My ghetto photo studio

My cookbook editor, Holly, is flying down to Florida and spending the entire day/eve with me tomorrow! I”m really looking forward to meeting her in person, since we’ve been working closely together for the past few months.

We’ll be spending the day cooking, testing, photographing, editing (ugh) and feasting!

As you know, I’ve been spending a lot of time honing my food photography skills, and I just learnd from David Lebovtiz that professional food photographers can make about $1,000 per shot! Of course, that fee includes a professionally equipped photo studio with expensive lights, a gazillion props and backgrounds, photographer’s assistants, catered lunch and food stylists.

Sadly, I do not have Food Fluffers.

And my studio is pretty ghetto:

My ghetto photo studio

no catered lunch either…I just eat the set.

If you’re curious, the reason my ottoman is scarred…it’s because one day I was too lazy to lug out the ironing board. And I only had to iron in big-ass wrinkle out of my dress. So I used the ottoman.

Let’s just say that the extra $100 spent having all furniture sprayed with Scotch-Guard stain resistant spray burns quite easily. (yes, i know. grammer sux. my subject-modifier thingy is all wrong. Too busy to fix)

and another shot…

Since I’m getting wonderful natural light, I don’t use my Ego lights spare bedroom studio unless I’m shooting at night.

Photo Studio

(if you have a Flickr account, you can click above photo for larger shot)

I think I need some basketweaving lessons:


But I very much want a Food Fluffer!!! πŸ™‚ This is a Steamy Kitchen, after all!

hee hee – I said “fluffer!!!”


Show me yours!

So now that I’ve shown you mine, I want to see yours! Some of you already have shown me yours in a previous post (just add to the links below) Take a photo of where all your food photography magic happens whether it’s fancy-professional, ghetto like mine or just the kitchen table and link to it here. Or, just comment below and tell me about it!


A note to my recipe testers

We’re almost ready to start…look for an email from me in the next couple of days!

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Comments 54

  1. LunaPierCook

    We did this a couple months ago, but that’s alright … I’m curious as to others shootting rooms!

  2. katy

    ohh, i am jealous. i have no “studio” to speak of — just photograph my dishes on my kitchen table with a pretty placemat usually! my apt gets lots of light so they generally turn out pretty well.

  3. Lilie

    I don’t have a picture of my ghetto studio yet. I have my first food picture though! It’s here: http:[email protected]/2450890290/

  4. daphne

    hmm.. let’s see.. mine consist of a white table against a white wall… and beside it is a pile of linen and wrapping papper! That’s about it…

  5. Nicole

    Ghetto or not, your ‘studio’ has the most important thing…plenty of gorgeous natural light! I’m jealous because I’ve really been struggling with lack of light since we moved into our new place. Who’d have ever thought I’d have problems finding light in San Diego! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Karen MEG

    Jaden OMG, I haven’t been by in a while …. me bad, don’t know why because you’re such a talent and absolutely hilarious!!!!

    I didn’t realize food photography could be so lucrative!!!
    Good luck on your cookbook … how awesome is that!

  7. Sowjanya

    i got no studio and I don’t take nay good pictures ( I should I know).

    I don’t know which I love the most about your picture, the hand painted table or the normalcy of the room with a toy helicopter near the door πŸ™‚

  8. Jandi

    Jaden, I’ll be your food fluffer! In fact, one of my nicknames in high school was Fluffy…mostly because my last name then was Fulford and sometimes because I over-washed my waist-length hair in Prell. When I was a commercial photographer (decades ago) one of my clients was a porcelain doll manufacturer. Lots of fluffing was required to show the dolls at their best. Dolls, dumplings…what’s the diff?!

  9. sharon

    I’d have to say my studio is more ghetto fabulous than yours πŸ™‚ I usually just stick to the dining room table. Sometimes I accidentally get books, mail, junk, in the shots and forget that not everyone wants to see that πŸ™‚

  10. Tenina

    Your photos are absolutely goregous and I would definitely pay you $100 per shot (if only I had money…’sigh’) What’s more, you made me laugh, not an easy thing to get a frazzled mother of five to do who is food blogging late at night for the peace of it all!! You officially hit my blogroll!

  11. mimi

    you are truly ghetto fabulous while my set-up is just plain the dumps.

    the studio dump

    because i’m on the garden floor of a brownstone i have terrific light in my garden, but not so much in my apartment! and especially at 10pm when i’m usually baking or cooking. so my coffee table works wonders.

    maybe i can get hubby to be the fluffer. wow. did i even go there? well it’s not like i mentioned it first, dirrty grrl!

  12. Kelley Smith

    My studio looks much like yours. Same lights, same tripod, same reflector thingies. I can shoot from my dining room table during the afternoon hours with natural light. I shoot from my upstairs office/studio with awesome morning natural light . Or I shoot wherever with the studio lights, but mostly from a table set up in the office/studio. I’ve collected quite a few dishes and placemats from some discount places that find their way to photographs. While I don’t have helicopters littering the floor anymore (my kids are 13 and 17) I do have to worry about after school and after football practice starving teenage boys eating up the food before I have photographed it.

    Yes, a food fluffer would be nice.

    I’m so jealous of your cookbook!

  13. cindy

    o.k., what is a food fluffer? πŸ˜€ i am so excited for the testing to start! i don’t have a studio for photographing things, and i ususally i say a little prayer to the camera gods, and hope for the best! it’s not too bad on sunny days, (the few that we do get) but on the rainy, dreary ones, the photos are really hard to get to come out, for me.

  14. Micha

    He he…you are so ahead of me on the “studio” πŸ™‚
    I use our guest bathroom, which is all white and has a huge mirror…so a lot of light is reflected around. In the daytime it gets good natural light and at night I use some cheap paper shaded lamps from Ikea to direct more light where I want it. Actually, it works pretty well but I have to be careful not to dump my subject in the sink πŸ˜‰

  15. Kitt

    Yes, Jaden, explain “food fluffer.” Because I want a good laugh. (Do you yell “We’ve got wood!” when you pull out a bamboo tray?)

    No studio here at all. Just kitchen counter, dining room table or window sill. Wherever the light’s good.

  16. Sharon

    I wonder how it feels to use the phrase, “my cookbook editor, Holly”? Hmmm? I thought you tossed it in with aplomb! .

  17. Marvin

    Food Fluffer. Nice!

    My photo setup consists of just the EGO lights and a tripod. I’ve got to put more effort into the extra scenery like you do (i.e. basket weaving and fabrics and such).

  18. courtney

    You are not only a great cook, writer,but photographer! My studio hasn’t eveloved from my kitchen island.Even a windowsill at times. Talk about Ghetto. Have to be careful so the security bars dont enter the shot. Hey I live in the city! I will be using the back porch more this summer.

  19. blondee47

    Jaden it is a good thing u said food fluffer because in the porn industry a fluffer is something completely different and this fascinating knowledge comes from watching Nip/Tuck on television…..bad girl that I am, and i kmow all ur readers are dying to know…think keeping the men ready and prepared for their turn in front of the camera all propped up and ready to go!!

  20. Vitor Hugo

    Oh, boy! My photo setup is still the same as I said earlier. heheheh The table dinner and not-so-fancy fabric. But what really kills me I don’t have a nice background and a spotlight (cheap one), heheheh.

    I was shocked when David said about the price! =O Soooo expensive, geez!

    Hum… testers! =O

  21. jeni

    my “portrait studio” is my kitchen. D:

    i need better lighting but i tend to cook at night when there is nothing but the yellow light in the apt. one of these days i’ll get act together and try to get some “fancy” supplies.

  22. brilynn

    You don’t even realize how high class your studio is compared to mine. I have to edit out the bars on my windows…

  23. Andrea

    I think your studio looks great! I would like to use the kitchen table more often because that room has the best light, but it’s always covered with whatever the boys have thrown all over it. Seriously, we have to scrub it down before and after e v e r y meal. If I were a rich woman, I could probably hire someone just to clean that table and the floor around it and that would be a full time job.

    So I am stuck with the crappy light in the kitchen and the dining room.

  24. Christey

    Awesome! I LOVE the natural light you have! We have this awesome light here in Florida, however our house has no good windows πŸ™ so I use the back porch often (

    This page ( I have our kitchen and my final plating shot area, except the kitchen has changed, where you see the umbrella is now a big ol soft box and the final plating area is in our dining room.

    Here are two pictures I JUST took of the final plating area. Notice the curtains hung with plumping pipes that i concocted in an attempt to hide my computer and studio area when we have people over πŸ™‚ haha! I just moved everything up from downstairs cause it was impossible to get anything done with it all downstairs.
    Anyhow I hide all the lights from the kitchen shooting behind there, but I lately have been doing all my final plating on the dining room table instead of my ‘studio’ area, so yeah, it’s all good. and it is ALL block off by an 8 ft baby gate from my 17 mth old and my 7 mth old πŸ™‚ (and occasionally from my 11 yr old and my 7 yr old πŸ˜‰ )

  25. Christey

    hmm well it didn’t post the two pictures so here are the links to them :
    http:[email protected]/2457613037/
    http:[email protected]/2458443888/

  26. shelley


    I am soooo envious of your natural light! I would kill-killl-pussycat-kill to have such great light!

    Until I can build my next house, with proper lighting, I’m just going to go crazy with mirrors, white boards and, uh, more mirrors. Probably filled with kitty prints. πŸ™‚

  27. Holly

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear there were no survivors of that helicopter crash – and they got so close to your specially woven landing pad and a last meal. Such sad, sad tragedy. πŸ˜‰

  28. Chez US

    Well, ours is more ghetto than yours! After cooking a fantastic meal in our 20sq. ft. kitchen we propped it up either on the dining room table – using the word “dining room” loosely there … or we prop it up on the kitchen counter on a sweep with some lights and we shoot away. We really need to get the lighting thing down … urrr! Steamy you are an inspiration!

    On another note …………… if you have some tasters that decide to NO SHOW on you, we would LOVE to be tasters!!!!! I had tried to sign up way back when but never heard back! Keep us in the loop is so!!

  29. Kitchen Scrapbook

    Wow! Do you eat hot food?! πŸ™‚ I make food in the kitchen, take it 10 steps to the dining room, put it on the table, say, “Ok, just wait, I have to get the camera”, and snap a picture or two. Then later, I crop off little hands, the butter dish, a stray spoon, etc.

    So, in other words, I didn’t get to the part yet where I have a separate studio for my food. But I’m very intrigued with yours!

  30. radish

    Sadly, I have no studio and shoot most of my food in the kitchen sans tripod or anything. We have no space in the apartment and since we are showing it to be rented out, we have to keep everything super sleek and minimalist. In an ideal world, I’d create something like your little studio with some reflective lighting, pieces of fabric and a few new plates to showcase the food. Ah, the life of NYC resident – cramped πŸ™‚ Besides, usually the boyfriend is sulking in the corner accusing me of starving him to death while i angle my shots to be just right.

  31. Jerry

    OK… I’m absolutely loving the foam-board idea! Why in the world hadn’t I thought of that!?! And considering I’m just about to move ito a new house that has room dedicated to be a studio, I forsee some very colorful photos coming out of my kitchen very soon!

  32. Brave Sir Robin

    Hmmmm – Why can’t I view your filckr photo? Was it that thing with the spatula? I swear I thought it was room temperature.

    Really, it says private.

    I’ll photo my non-studio this evening.

  33. Ann

    OMG, you said FLUFFER!!!!!! Can’t wait to tell my hubby! You are one naughty kitten, my dear Jaden – which is why I keep coming back, of course.

    I usually take my pics in my kitchen nook – hopefully w/ afternoon light, but it’s completely ad-hoc, ghetto – like most of us here. LOL. Great post.

  34. Nate

    My “studio” is the kitchen table with natural light in the day time and CF light at night. I bought the cheap $3 foam board but I keep forgetting to bring it out. I have a little P&S POS…I could use a camera upgrade…

    Can I be your food fluffer?

  35. Single Guy Chef

    Jaden, my “studio” is more ghetto than yours. I’ll do a feature on my blog one day, but basically it’s pressed up against my window to get natural light and I just crop really close. But I recently purchased those lights you recommended and they’re great now for taking shots at night. But I have to say, it was a bitch assembling it! The inside was kind of weird to push down the plastic thingy and it felt really unstable. But after several tries, I got it to work and now I have natural light via the lamp. πŸ™‚

  36. White On Rice Couple

    Your living room is so pretty! The wood floors are beautiful! Love the furniture too!

    Anyways, back to the studio talk…We just shoot our food on the kitchen table and get as much natural light as we can from our windows. For night time, we have a little Nikon ($80) speedlight flash we use.

    We’ll get a post together and show you with pics!

  37. noobcook

    beautiful! I love your home decor sooo much. Looks like something fresh out of a home decor mag. I always look forward to reading about your photography adventures n props!

  38. Jim

    in my family, we find the hardest part about food photography is waiting to eat! We have food competitions with my mom, my daughter and myself. We pick a theme, a course and then off to the store to purchase all the ingredients.

    Once back at home, the three of us fight over utensils, pans, kitchen space and plates. until finally, it all comes together and then we rush to plate and photograph the food for our blog.

    It’s a fun family day, and we all enjoy our labors of love.

  39. Nicole from: For the Love of Food

    Will be glad to share my “new” food porn room with you when I get back home from my 3 week vacation in the States. BTW – you have sucha beautifully decorated home! When did your little guys stop destroying everyting?? My little guy is almost 15 months, and I just keep giving away my stuff…soon there’ll just be a mattress and a refrigerator πŸ™‚

  40. Jim

    I have posted a pic of my “studio” on location

    Apparently, i miss-typed my url earlier. Oops. We have posted some pics from our latest foodfight.

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