Welcome to my Blog... and thanks for reading...

First... welcome! And thanks for visiting my website!

I get lots of questions when people discover that I am a cookbook author, but the most common by far is, "How did you get into the business?" I think most people wonder solely because it sounds like a fun job. And, it can be. But, with two books under my belt (Houston Classic Desserts, Pelican 2010 and Houston Classic Mexican, Pelican 2011) I have to tell you - the 'how' is not so important as the 'why'. I got into the cookbook business because I have a sincere love for food, a great support system of friends, family and fellow 'foodies', a husband that's really good with a camera and... a bit of luck.

I hope this blog will serve as inspiration to those of you with a passion for beautiful and tasty food, cooking, dining out, kitchen gadgetry, kitchen goofs and the musings of a girl that's discovering new things about herself and her passions... one delicious recipe at a time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

You Oughta Be In Pictures

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: An oldie but a goodie... we are re-running this post from September of 2010 wherein Erin and the Houston Classics team 'talk shop' about food photography, lighting and styling. It's kind of cool to see the behind-the-scenes shot now that the Houston Classic Mexican book is in print... we think the shot that appears inside the front cover of HCM is the shot that Billy was taking at this exact moment!

Food photos are tough. There are so many variables going on - location, scheduling, styling the food, dressing the set, lighting - things can get a little hectic and a lot can go awry. Even tougher are the shots that I have to be in for the interior of the book. I don't love being in staged photos because I always feel so awkward and dorky and it becomes just an extra bit of pressure to look my best with everything else that's going on. But one of the best parts of producing cookbooks is the great fun we have behind the scenes.

With the popularity of websites like tastespotting.com and foodgawker.com, (my Editor Jeffrey refers to these sites as food zoos or food porn... as they are sites that feature amazing pictures of mouthwatering food, but no source or recipe for them) I thought it might be helpful to the home cook to offer some advice, from the professionals that help ME, on how to take great shots of food in your own kitchen.
(Photo Above, Left)

This morning, we were lucky enough to be on location at the home of Jay and Barbara Tomek, who were gracious enough to let us invade their beautiful Houston residence and shoot the cover for my forthcoming cookbook, Houston Classic Mexican (Pelican, Spring 2011).

My husband William "Billy" Jones Miller is an outstanding photographer and videographer and he produces all of the photos that appear in my books. My friend and Editor Jeffrey Linthicum is also a spot-on food stylist and set decorator. Here are some pearls of wisdom from these pros on how to get that perfect shot...

Jeffrey: "Be mindful of three things - texture, contrast and color. A creamy smooth soup will look a lot better in a rough-hewn bowl with a sprinkling of something textural like a few pine nuts, some little shards of fresh dill or a punch of rough-chopped cilantro. Food will 'pop' more if you contrast the dish on which it is presented. Put darker foods on lighter plates and lighter foods on dark ones. Lastly, remember that color wheel you made in 3rd grade art class? (shown left) Use complimentary shades for the best effect. Find the color of your food on this wheel... and offset it with a background or dish of the color directly opposite it. For instance, a bright yellow-green leafy salad will really stand out on a violet-red plate."

Billy: "Natural light is your friend. Take your dish outside or bend the light to where you need it by using a reflector. Professional ones are best of course, but in a pinch you can cover a pizza pan with aluminum foil. And get in close! The best food shots are tight enough that you can actually see the pores of the food and the individual grains of salt and pepper. Remember the food is the star... let it shine."

Lots of folks have been asking about the apron I am wearing in this behind-the-scenes shot. Yoli, 'The Apron Senorita', is such a sweet lady... and she sent me a box FULL of the cutest kitchen towels and aprons EVER. I love them. Get yours by clicking here.

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