Recipe Book: From Functional to Beautiful

A couple years ago I started designing a cookbook, mostly for myself as a way to track the recipes I enjoyed and keep record of the recipes I created on my own. At present, I’m considering sharing this book on a larger scale, which means my old criteria of “as long as it shows the food clearly, it’s a good photo” ain’t gonna cut it. Observe:

honey mustard tofu_before…yum? It’s a delicious dish, I promise, but this photo isn’t doing the recipe any favors. It also apparently hearkens to a time when I thought “blur all of the edges” was a legitimate Photoshop technique. Whoops. Jump forward to the present revised photo:

honey mustard tofu_after

Much better! At some point I’m sure I’ll view this image with a more developed eye and more scrutiny, and then see an entirely different set of errors. But, for now, the presentation is more coordinated, each of the elements in the dish are showcased, and most importantly, the food actually looks appetizing. It probably would have benefited from a lighter background, but until I’m able to borrow a friend’s apartment, I’m limited to the surfaces I own… it turns out that there is a downside to only having black IKEA furniture. At least when you decide to start pursuing food photography, anyway.

There’s also something to be said for presentation, garnishing the food and adding small personal touches instead of photographing the food however it happens to look just before I devour it. Behold some strawberry banana “ice cream” straight from the blender:

strawberry ice cream_before

It’s honest, but not so appealing. Or maybe it is still appealing, but not endearing, and with no sense of atmosphere. The second time around is better:

strawberry ice cream_after

Yum yum yum.

Having fresh new photos is also inspiring me to create a few new recipes, ideally capturing a quality photo the first time around. Here’s the latest entry:

sesame asparagus noodle bowl

More tastiness to come. For now, I need some taste-tester chefs to try out these recipes and provide feedback, especially on ingredient amounts – any volunteers?

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