What inspires people to become food photographers

Behind the scenes of a food photographer: Interview with blogger marylicious

Just introduce yourself! Who is behind the blog marylicious?

Hello, I'm Maria Panzer, in my mid-twenties, with a head full of colorful ideas and a heart full of drive and passion. I love baking and of course food photography. At the beginning of the year I had a little burst of courage and turned my passion into a job. Since then I have implemented numerous wonderful photo projects and supported many people in taking even more beautiful pictures of their food. Because that's really a matter close to my heart.

How did you get into food photography?

In the third grade I already held my first photo camera in my hand and haven't left it lying around since then. I came to food photography a little later, more precisely during my studies. I wanted to make a little cookbook for my boyfriend, who is now fiancé, so that he can eat healthily in his student dorm and not just eat fast food. After this little project was finished, I couldn't stop myself and started my food blog marylicious in a night and fog campaign.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Most of the time, the best ideas come to me when I'm in the fresh air and just switch off. At the same time, I like to get inspiration from Instagram, Pinterest and from magazines and books.

Light, color, perspective - everything is right here

Who are your three greatest kitchen heroes and why?

Since I mostly bake, I could never do without my collection of mixing bowls and spatulas. Neither of these are particularly spectacular, but it doesn't all have to be funky. Last but not least, good music should not be missing. When I get in the right mood and dance around the kitchen more than anything else, the most delicious things are created.

What would you say is the biggest challenge in getting the perfect shot in food photography?

Hmm ... of course different things come together. But what I think is most important is that all props (i.e. decoration) and the dish come across as naturally and not posed as possible.

You have a weekly podcast. What can you expect as a new listener there?

In my podcast “Foodphotography for business”, as the name suggests, everything revolves around food photography. Of course, food and set styling also play a major role. There is also regular input on all aspects of social media and mindset. Two - in my opinion - totally important aspects if you want to be successful in the long term with your hobby or creative business. And that's exactly where I want to support my listeners! You really enjoy listening to it, you can listen to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify, for example.

Is there a picture that you are particularly proud of? And if so, which one?

The picture of that marble cake with cherries that I made a few weeks ago. I love how the light shines through between the pieces of cake and how the chocolate icing glows and shines.

Maria's marble cake makes you want to have a coffee chat without a lot of chichi. © Maria Panzer | marylicious

What was your most chaotic or unusual photography experience?

I immediately think of a shoot that I had a few days ago. It was a totally chaotic day - there were pastries and decorations everywhere and you really had to be careful where you put your feet. I was totally in the flow and so it hardly bothered me. The first pictures were already in the can and I was just setting up a new set. I still thought: "That could be chic ..."

I positioned my camera on the tripod, didn't pay much attention to the image section and took a first test picture. When I saw it on the screen, I let out a little scream. I was totally taken by surprise, because the picture was almost perfect and so much more beautiful than I expected.

What equipment should every food photographer have in the studio?

Absolute must-haves include a tripod and a thick, white styrofoam plate. This is the perfect reflector that doesn't roll away and reflects a nice, bright light. Give it a try - it doesn't sound very effective, but you'll never want to be without it again.

Are you more of a minimalist when it comes to photo setting or do you tend to say “more is more”?

I definitely belong to the minimalism group. I try to focus on the food and create atmospheric pictures with as little decoration as possible. The use of light and sophisticated image processing play a major role here.

Here you can take a closer look at the finished tart © Jessy Nitsche | jessyphotography.de

How do you develop the concept for an image? In brief, what are the key considerations?

For larger projects, I usually make small sketches in my notebook. I can't paint and that's not bad either. In the beginning I never did that because my drawings didn't live up to my expectations. In the meantime I've accepted that it's enough if I stick to the idea behind it and never win a painting competition - but I prefer to take photos anyway.

When planning, the most important thing for me is to find out which emotions I want to achieve with the picture. When that is clear, it is much easier to decide on a suitable decoration and a beautiful surface.

What are the most difficult dishes for you to photograph? And how can you save them?

Definitely hearty dishes. First, because the vegetables are often slightly overcooked and you want to eat warm. It is important here to set up your set beforehand so that everything can be done quickly afterwards. In general, it helps if you focus on the fresh aspects of the dish with fresh herbs or parmesan, for example.

What features should a good camera for food photography have?

The most important thing is actually that you can change the lens of the camera. Because that is usually more decisive than the camera itself. Instead of the kit lens, which is usually included with the purchase, I always recommend a fixed focal length, such as the 50 mm lens. You can no longer zoom in and you have to change your position yourself, but you can enjoy this wonderfully blurred background.

And the photo studio? What does the perfect place to take photos look like?

I usually recommend the brightest place in the apartment without direct sunlight. That could well be the bathroom - I speak from experience. For a while, I took my photos over the bathtub in an attic apartment. In supposedly dark apartments you can still take wonderful photos with the help of a tripod, so please don't lose heart.

What should you look out for when choosing backgrounds and props?

At the beginning I would rely on a few basics that you can use regularly without it being immediately recognizable. In addition, you should avoid strong patterns and strong colors, as it quickly looks kitschy and cheap and distracts too much from the dish. In general, it is also better to use small plates etc. so that the proportions are right.

What tip would you give absolute beginners to food photography?

It is essential to switch off the ceiling light and not show the whole apartment in the background. Also, don't let up, because as the English saying goes: Practice makes perfect!