Feb. 21 2022 08:00 AM

Sharing recipes and photos of food online is very popular right now, and these photography tips will help you showcase your culinary creation.

We all have memories of our mother or grandmother following a recipe from an open cookbook propped up on the kitchen counter.

While cookbooks aren’t quite in vogue anymore, the recipe itself lives on. In fact, more people are cooking from home during the pandemic, but instead of using a cookbook, they are turning to their cell phones or computers for inspiration.

This is especially true of Gen Z (ages 10 to 23), who listed food as their top spending priority in a recent survey. This generation demonstrates a sense of curiosity in their eating habits as compared with previous generations, and they crave healthy products, unique flavors, and eating experiences.

This is one reason why the dairy checkoff continues to offer dairy-friendly recipes at USDairy.com and on our social media channels.

Some of our recipes, however, needed a fresh photographic touch to generate more interest with consumers. After all, what better way to sell the deliciousness of dairy than through a photo where you can almost taste the melted mozzarella!

This has become a priority for Olivia White, who serves as manager of marketing communications for Dairy Management Inc. She and the team rely on consumer insights reports to see if there is a particular recipe or food that is trending. They then scour our recipe section for corresponding recipes, and this is where White’s photographic skills are used. She has become a self-made food stylist and has learned her share of tricks of how to effectively convey a recipe to consumers.

Once the refreshed recipe is completed, she and her team will repost it at USDairy.com and via Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Instagram is an especially key avenue with so many Gen Z consumers heading there for culinary ideas.

Here are some examples of White’s refreshed photography work: Spicy Hot Potato Soup, Light Cheddar Macaroni, and Cheese Lovers Pizza Squares.

She and the team also keep up with celebrations such as this Instagram post for National Pizza Week or this holiday cookie charcuterie board. They also have a series of posts planned for National School Breakfast Week, March 7 to 11.

White has taken things a step further by creating recipes and turning her home into somewhat of a test kitchen. She created the Air Fried Chicken Parmesan recipe and the salad dressing for the Touchdown Taco Salad, which were distributed on the checkoff’s channels.

She shares many of her “do’s and don’ts” learned along the way:

• Lighting is key! Shoot next to windows to maximize natural light.

• Use smaller serving/dining ware (and portion sizes) than you’d typically use to make the food look bigger. For example, use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate.

Matte utensils are lifesavers to avoid unwanted glares and reflections in your photos.

• Gather all props, tools, and garnishes, and set up your shot before you begin cooking. One time, she had apples sliced early but then they had turned brown when it came time to shoot the photo.

• Create an “inspiration board” by finding similar photos on Pinterest or elsewhere of what you plan to cook and then shoot.

• Create a shot list ahead of time of the specific photos you want to gather.

• Whether using your iPhone or professional camera, make sure the you have the right equipment in your arsenal – think about using a tripod, diffuser, bounce board (a simple white foam board does the trick), or a grey card. While these aren’t all essential, they can help enhance your photography.

• Tether your camera to Lightroom on your computer. This allows you to see the images instantly and can save time.

• Always buy extra recipe ingredients and be prepared to make extra servings (but don’t let it go to waste – freeze leftovers for a rainy day).

• Use a squeeze bottle when plating sauces and salad dressing.

If you have any questions on how to effectively share your recipes online or need help with your social media advocacy, reach out to me at don.schindler@dairy.org.

To learn more about your national and local dairy checkoffs, visit www.USDairy.com or send a request to join our Dairy Checkoff Facebook group.

Don Schindler

The author is a Senior Vice President of Digital Initiatives at Dairy Management Inc.