Sweets Illustrated

Sweets illustrated Blog

Photoshoot; Pastry Chef Perspective

I wasn't exactly sure how I'd piece this blog post together, so bear with me as I dazzle you with beautiful photography and haphazardly create what I hope to be a noteworthy post.

Photo shoots have become the norm for my company over the last two years.  But what exactly does it take to put a successful shoot together? The answer is: An infinite amount of time and random talents from a group of cool people.  That may sound scary, but it's sort of true.  I'll highlight a few broad topics that may help you if you've been curious about having a photo session of your own.

Here's a shot of most of the products that were included that day.  A tall drip cake, cupcakes, mini cupcakes, macarons, cookie sandwiches, and dessert shooters.  Perfect photography by Emily Katharine Photography.

Here's a shot of most of the products that were included that day.  A tall drip cake, cupcakes, mini cupcakes, macarons, cookie sandwiches, and dessert shooters.  Perfect photography by Emily Katharine Photography.

You’ll want a photographer!

My photography has come a long way since I first started this company. I've had the terrible lighting, awful backgrounds, and all around blurry photo's.  I've committed all of the photography crimes.  And even though I've grown into my photography skills, I still have a lot to learn.  This is why having a successful photo session means having a photographer who is understanding of your needs and style.  With that said, the first thing I did was research photographers.  After doing so, I ultimately decided that I wanted to work with someone I already knew, so I was able to narrow it down quickly.  When I reached out to let her know my overall vision, Emily was so excited.  That's when you know it's going to be a successful session!  Somehow I landed on shooting during the week of Thanksgiving.  Best idea ever?

I appreciate Emily so much because even though her style focuses on photographing people, she was willing to try something new with me and help capture these beautiful photo's.  She's flexible, and that quality shines through the photo's from that day.

                                             Watercolor sugar cookies with light touches of color.  The styling in this shot keeps everything soft.  

                                             Watercolor sugar cookies with light touches of color.  The styling in this shot keeps everything soft.  

Make a Plan & Stick To It!

In the coming weeks, I had put a lot of time into planning how many items I would need to have a successful variation of desserts.  My personal plan consisted of about 25 hours of prep, baking, and decorating.  That plan didn't include travel and piecing together items at the shoot  Overall, 35+ hours for me.  (A "simple" shoot can feel like anywhere from two to one million hours, in the desert, with no food or water.  Just kidding, but they can be long days.)

Staying organized through the entire process will be your best tool.  I'm a bit of an organizing psycho, so I typically make a list of dessert ideas.  From there, I break that list down into ingredients.  If I feel the ingredients list is too long for what my project is, I may remove or edit items on my list.
A lot of desserts require multiple steps, so rather than having a broad, "easy" looking list, such as "macarons", I break my list up into items that need to be prepared.  Example: 

  • Prep Macarons

  • Bake Macarons

  • Prepare Buttercream for Macs

  • Piece together Macarons

  • Decorate Macarons

This works for me, because I hate looking at a list and thinking I have one thing to do, when in reality, that one thing consists of five detailed tasks.

After finalizing a list desserts, it's a great idea to have a list of shots you'd like to capture to help your photographer on the day of the shoot.  In my case, I didn't have a list of shots, because I didn't want to hinder anyone's creativity that day.  I hope she doesn't secretly hate me.

   Becky combined a perfect mixture of flowers + edibles here.  I love that she chose to add a chocolate macaron to this box for a pop of color!  

   Becky combined a perfect mixture of flowers + edibles here.  I love that she chose to add a chocolate macaron to this box for a pop of color!  

Style, Style, Style!

Doesn't sound too bad so far, but what's next?  You're an awesome baker but does that mean you should be cut loose into the realm of styling? Ehhh...  Letting someone style your desserts is a real thing and I highly suggest it if at all possible.  

When I first started baking, I wanted to do it all.  I wanted to bake, decorate, make beautiful table spreads, and take gorgeous photo's.  When I look back at those times (and terrible photo's) I'm so thankful for what I've learned along the way.  Realizing where my talents are best used has not only saved me hours upon hours, but also tons of money.  Being inexperienced in styling, ultimately resulted in the purchasing of *many* of items that I personally loved but didn't necessarily need.  I did this for a long time before realizing my mistakes.  Two years later, I have finally managed to declutter all of the useless items and props I purchased. 

My friend Becky is a beast in this arena and she's been busy perfecting the art of food styling.  (Check out the doughnut shot below; it was the cover for Handmade Seller Magazine for February!)  So as you can imagine, I was beyond excited that she offered to style my pieces for this occasion!  I'll never say no, Becky!

This was one of my favorite additions to the shoot.  I make fun doughnuts occasionally and this one made the cut because of the *obviously* awesome heart in the center.  If you're wondering who took the bite, that was my son and he approved!  This shot was styled by the ever so talented Becky, with Daly Digs.  This gorgeous capture (by Emily at Emily Katharine Photography) and styling combo snagged us the recent cover on Handmade Seller Magazine!  Woop!  Check out the feature for February :)

This was one of my favorite additions to the shoot.  I make fun doughnuts occasionally and this one made the cut because of the *obviously* awesome heart in the center.  If you're wondering who took the bite, that was my son and he approved!  This shot was styled by the ever so talented Becky, with Daly Digs.  This gorgeous capture (by Emily at Emily Katharine Photography) and styling combo snagged us the recent cover on Handmade Seller Magazine!  Woop!  Check out the feature for February :)

Emily was willing to move between her film camera and digital camera to try and capture my personal style.  This is one of the best shots from that day *biased opinion*.  Flat lay, roses, macarons, marble, natural light?  Becky did her thing!

Emily was willing to move between her film camera and digital camera to try and capture my personal style.  This is one of the best shots from that day *biased opinion*.  Flat lay, roses, macarons, marble, natural light?  Becky did her thing!

Once you have a well organized plan, and a team of people you enjoy working with, these sessions become so much fun!  You'll eventually find yourself repaying your people by joining them in their future endeavors.  Being willing to work out of your comfort zone is a great way to expand your talents into other areas!  

This particular photo shoot was a favorite of mine because everyone was so relaxed and I was actually present for all of it.  Some styled shoots don't require my presence, so it's rare that I have time to stick around for all of the behind the scenes action.  If you've been considering a styled shoot or a photo shoot of any kind, my best advice is to have a reliable group to work with and stay as organized as possible.  At the end of the day, your stylist and photographer can only work with what you are providing them, so make it count.  If you have any specific questions about putting a shoot together, send me an email or leave a comment and I'll do my best to point you in the right direction!

*I'd like to apologize for this post and every post that will come after this one.  Apparently my eight year old never stops talking, leaving me to edit and read over my post 89 times, just to find myself with more typo's and grammatical errors than I started with.  It's real life in this house, people! 


If you'd like to check out Sweets illustrated's feature in Handmade Seller Magazine, I talk about how I started my career and how I landed where I am now.  
Handmade Seller Magazine


If you're interested in contacting anyone I worked with on this shoot, you won't be disappointed: 
Emily Katharine Photography
Daly Digs