Musing,  Parenting

Photography Confidence

Let me explain about this photography confidence that I felt I had lost. Regular readers will know that last year my first cookbook was published and I put my heart and soul into that book. I wrote the book at a time when things were very bad for us and it gave me something to focus on.

I am not the world’s best photographer. I’m the first person to put my hand up and admit it. Putting my words, and my pictures into print made me feel exposed. Ask yourself, how would you cook, style, and photograph a cookbook containing nearly 150 recipe images on your own with a cheap DSLR? There were times when I thought I was going to crack from the pressure to perform. The internet and cookbooks are full of perfect pictures, beautifully styled and presented. Many cookbooks have a small ratio of images to recipes but I didn’t have that luxury.

Most of the book reviews have been lovely. Some suggested people should buy the book not for the pictures but for the content – which to me was the important part – but still a part of me cringed inside. Those pictures, they were mine, I slaved over them, and the worst part? Looking back now I am not proud of many of the images that were published. Comments like “rustic” and “realistic” photographs were so well-intentioned, but made me feel awful. Here I am, a published author, with a book that should show how wonderful and easy it is to live on a tight grocery budget. However, it left me feeling bleak because I feel the images didn’t live up to the content in the book.

It’s taken a lot for me to pick back up my camera and start using it again on manual mode. For a long time I just shot in automatic and didn’t concentrate too much on what I was doing, or used camera phone shots in blogposts.

For months now the tripod has sat in the dust jacket in my office, along with some other photography bits and pieces. Anyway this week I took out my camera, connected it to the tripod and tried my best. I’m happier with the results (coming to a blog near you) than I have been with many of the photographs I’ve taken in a long time.

There’s an expectation if you’re a food blogger; if you want to be successful, that you should have pristine photos, impeccable blog design, amazing writing skills – basically have it all. Now I understand why some bloggers decide to work with professional stylists and photographers. In many ways I wish I had that opportunity when I wrote the book, but I realise now that I’ve learned a valuable lesson. I’m picking myself up, dusting my camera off and I’m back in action.

If you want a sneak peek at some of the things I’m working on you’ll find them over on my Instagram account:

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.


  • helix1581

    Dear Caitriona,

    i have your book and love it! i love the recipes and the pictures. Don’t beat yourself up – us Irish women are too good at that!? be very proud of all you have achieved and are still achieving – I wish i could do half as much!! take care (of yourself, for once), love, Marian H x

  • nono667

    I think you should be very proud for getting a cookbook published and all done by yourself, without the artifice of a food photographer. Au contraire, what you have done is true to the title of the book, “wholesome”: sincere, generous with the little imperfections that make it so unique and beautiful!

  • maggie osullivan

    Thanks for being honest, it’s not easy to own up when you feel you could have done better. Of course, hindsight is 20:20, isn’t that what they say? This post has reminded me that I want to buy your book. And to be honest, a bit of reality in cookbook photos sounds good – there’s nothing worse than noticing the disparity between what you produce yourself and the glossy photo in the book, served on a scallop shell on a placemat made of rustic twigs or something…..

  • Maire

    Dear Caitriona

    I admire your courage being so open about comments.

    Yes of course the recipes are the most important part! I didn’t notice anything wrong with photos.They were very clear and gave me a good idea what the end result should look like (which is their function I presume ). The food looked appetising also.

    Guessing there may be design conventions you can learn for the next book to keep the critics happy if that is what you want to do. THis may be important for booksellers.

    Wishing you the very best of luck with all your projects.

  • Mira

    Caitriona you are doing brilliant and you are truely an inspiration so don’t beat yourself up. Having said that I’m the same when I see all the perfect pictures and props other food bloggers are using and mine is like ( I have no idea what I’m doing). Though it keeps me distracted from many other things in life and also a reason to get up in the morning and learn how to make that bloody picture perfect!
    You are really doing great keep it up

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