Show #73 – Nicole Young (aka Nicolesy) – Food Photography

Host Mike Howard and Tim Kemperle interview photographer Nicole Young about Food Photography.

Nicole Young Mini Bio

Nicole is an author of several books including “Food Photography – From Snap Shots to Great Shots” and one of her newest “Plug in with onOne Software”.  Nicole is also an accredited Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) in Photoshop and is a Help Desk Specialist with the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.

Nicole is a full time photographer who specializes in food photography and lot of her work can be found in her iStock portfolio.

Nicole Young Interview


  • Tell me about “rouge signing” of your books
    • Will look through the photography section of bookstores and if Nicole finds one of her books she will open the book and sign it.
  • Food photography
    • Love to cook / eat and wanted to add photos to iStock
    • People sent in recipes and I kept learning and taking photos which ultimately lead to writing a book about food photography
  • Food Prep.
    • Do you cook the meal the same for a photo shoot as you would to eat it?
      • Depends on what is being made…I have photographed a steak meal that was my dinner
    • How much time do you have to photograph the food before it starts to not look appetizing
      • Most photos are completed within 10-15 minutes
    • Do you replace parts of the dish during the shoot
      • Meat will run out of useful span quickly
      • Take enough images to get around five photos “keepers”
      • Mint or basil leaves will wilt quickly
    • Meats will release fluid in a brief amount of time, how do you control this
      • Quickly take the photos…usually done within 10-15 minutes
    • Steam –  Real or Photoshop (reviewed shot of shrimp on fork)
      • True to the shot but not from the food that was made
      • Utilized a clothes steamer to allow steam to come up and Photoshop was used to remove the steam from below
  • How much thought goes into the serving dish
    • Color of the dish – Any favorites – Any dislikes
      • Depends on the which shoot is being completed.  A shoot may revolve around one item on the dish and I will build on the scene
      • Usually will Utilize simple white dishes
    • Clear dishes?
      • Not usually, felt they didn’t work
      • Background items may have clear glasses with fake ice
  • Camera setup
    • Lighting
      • Direct light isn’t idea unless diffused
      • Prefer to have light behind the subject (window light or flash in diffuser box)
      • White foam board to reflect light back
    • ISO used
      • Strive to use ISO 100
    • f/stop – how much or how little DOF are you wanting
      • Don’t want to be too shallow, most of the food is in focus with the background blurred
      • With the 100mm I am usually at f5.6
    • How tight do you want to shoot?
      • Usually 70-200 zoomed in to 200mm
      • Style is tight and compressed
    • Macro lens?
      • 100 Macro
    • White balance, how are you setting this
      • Auto White Balance and shoot in RAW
    • Tripod?
      • Tripod because of the lighting, usually around 1/2 second exposure
      • Very deliberate in what is in the shot…move ever so slightly to ensure items are placed exactly as I want
  • Shooting Position
    • What is included in the frame
      • A very small portion of the table is photographed
    • When do you shoot overhead vs at plate level?
      • Depends on the food being shot, most is at a 45 degree angle to the table…not level or there will be items in the background that I don’t want in the photograph
      • Sometimes, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwich lend the photograph from top down
  • Food
    • What food do you find the most challenging to photography?
      • Tried grilled cheese sandwich and you won’t find any in my portfolio
    • What is your favorite food to shoot
      • Pasta – texture
      • Shrimp – very colorful and complement other colors
  • Tips & Tricks
    • Any tips for making the food look fresh
    • Adding oil
      • If food had oil in the shot I would likely help it along with a little extra
    • Adding Water
      • Strawberries / Blueberries…usually you wash the food prior to eating so a little water added is appropriate
  • Props?
    • Blueberry shot: 
      • glasses in the corners
      • spoon not really touching anything
      • napkin in the top right
      • blueberries sprinkled around
    • How much before it becomes a distraction?
      • Sometimes, I will review the shot and remove items
      • Will photograph different variations to give options for Stock photography

Listener Questions

  • Sugar rim on glasses?
    • Salt on the rim, doesn’t dissolve, take a lemon and and swipe around the rim and place into a bowl
  • Face Ice?
    • Amazon, good size bag for $10-$20
  • Workshops / Tutorials?
    • Nothing setup and no plans at the current time
    • Tutorials with tips on website

Images from the show –

[portfolio_slideshow id=5672]

Future show calendar for jpeg2RAW

Article on various ways to receive the podcast each week


Nicole Young


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About geephotant

geephotant (Geek-Photographer-Accountant) (aka. Mike Howard) is the creator of Nov Studios and the jpeg2RAW podcast. Mike is an accountant by day as the Controller for a large US based corporation. By night, he is a geek and has appeared on the Home Server Show Podcast & the BYOB podcast ( both found at He has also appeared on the Home Tech Show podcast ( and is now a regular guest on that show. Mike's true passion is photography and shoots when ever he can find time. As an amateur photographer, he is always looking to learn more about the craft.

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