Blogging about Food is a Lot of Work

We usually blog about food, although we also include birding, art and other sundry topics from time to time. Jeanne posts more often than I do but together we try to post about twice a week.  I also follow several food blogs by folks that have similar approaches to mine or who just strike my fancy.

One blogger I follow is, Conor Bofin who writes One Man’s Meat. He posts about once a week. His writing is witty and often punny. Sometimes he’s down right hilarious as in this disquistion on the proper use and finish of the mashed potatoes on various meat pies (fish, shepherd’s or cottage).

Blog in and blog out, he weaves his obvious love of food and cooking with his love of family and his relationship to his community.  His photography is good, certainly better than mine, but not so good that it overpowers the food. He’s not creating photographic art but rather good photographic documentation of whatever dish he’s featuring. Mr. Bofin frequently owns up to photographic gaffs (usually leaving a key ingredient out of the photo of his mise en place) that would go unnoticed if he hadn’t mentioned them.  But, he also takes credit for some well framed and composed images.  And from time to time he nails it – capturing that elusive plume of steam rising from a bowl of freshly served stew, the crispness of some freshly gathered vegetable or the bloody beauty of a haunch of some beast ready for the oven. At his full-time job he runs an advertising agency in Dublin, Ireland so his concern over his photography may be understandable.  I appreciate his efforts and genuinely look forward to his posts (which I wish were just a bit more frequent).

Other food bloggers seem to have either nothing else to do or a staff of assistants to produce their posts.  Their writing is not any more extensive than most food blogs – usually a recounting of the origin of the dish and a serviceable recipe to follow if one wishes to attempt replicating the offering.  But their photography – Oh, their photography!  It borders on art.  And it comes in volumes – dozens of images to detail every step of the recipe – every step from boiling the water to adding the salt!  Ending with glorious shots of the finished product that would make a New York food stylist proud.  How do they do it?  How can they cook while, seemingly at the same time, stage and take all those photos.  Take for example, Ree Drummond who blogs under the name The Pioneer Woman.  She runs 5 different blogs: (The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Pioneer Woman Entertains, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, Pioneer Woman Home and Garden and Pioneer Woman Homeschooling), she has published 4 books (2 cooking and 2 children’s) and she has a show on the Food Network.  She posts frequently – a least once a week, sometimes more frequently, for each of the 5 blogs.

But what puzzles me is how she can put together a food post with so many photos.  Take this recent post for Butternut Squash & Kale Quesadillas.  Now, I make quesadillas.  I usually make them for breakfast using what leftovers I have on hand.  They’re easy – two tortillas, some cheese and some other things (meat and/or vegetables) – toast them until the tortillas are nicely browned and the cheese is melted.  Slice into quarters and eat.  No magic, no secret techniques.

Ms. Drummond’s post about the quesadillas, on the other hand, runs to 48 photos including 17 images on peeling and cutting the squash, 2 of melting butter, 2 featuring her new manicure and 5 of the finished dish.  Don’t get me wrong – the quesadillas (and most of her other offerings) look tasty but really, 48 photos?

I blog about what I cook too.  Not everything but from time to time when I think I’ve made something interesting or that other people might find interesting.  I try not to blog about basic cookery, assuming that most readers have some passing understanding about how to peel and cut a squash, grate cheese or boil water; or of they don’t that they know enough about the web to find multiple sites with that information (it’s amazing what you can find on wikiHow and Wikipedia).

What I don’t get about bloggers like Ms. Drummond is how they can manage to actually cook something AND take all those beautifully staged and framed photos at the same time.  I suspect the presence of another hand (or two) – maybe a photographer who doesn’t have to wash chicken mush or onion juice from their hands every time they need to pick up the camera (meanwhile losing track of the pan on the stove and coming close to burning the whole mess) – or maybe a food stylist to make sure each of the ingredients are well seen in the set up shot and identifiable in the money shot of the finished dish – or even a continuity assistant to make sure that no step in the preparation or cooking is missed or that no errant ingredient ends up in the finished dish that wasn’t present in the set up shot or the list of ingredients.

On the other hand, my efforts usually fall short of such professional attentions.  I can usually manage a set up shot but almost always forget to put some major ingredient in the shot, as in this shot for Coconut Chicken Curry with Cashews that I got from David Tanis in the NY Times which I followed closely except for substituting sweet potatoes for the parsnips in his recipe.


Ready to go. Yup, everything EXCEPT the chicken, sweet potato, tomato paste, mint and cilantro

As I went along, I only remembered to take a couple of photos that don’t exactly show off either the food or my photographic skills very well.

Tomato paste added to the sauted onions looks rather unappealing at this stage

Tomato paste added to the sautéed onions looks rather unappealing at this stage

Well, at least I remembered to get a clean shot (meaning BEFORE I started eating it) of the plated curry.

Coconut Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Cashews

Coconut Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Cashews

Well, I guess I’m more of a cook; being a media savant is too much work.  Bon appétit!


5 thoughts on “Blogging about Food is a Lot of Work

  1. Hi Guys, Many thanks for the very kind and incredibly insightful comments about my blog. And, yes, it is a lot of work. However, it is work that I really love doing. It allows me improve my photography (plenty of room for improvement), my writing (ditto) and my cooking (ditto again). I rarely get the opportunity to bring in assistants and often am getting the camera covered in various kinds of food goo as I try to get ‘that shot’.
    Thanks again, this sort of feedback warms my heart.

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