During a casual chat with a Twitter friend, she asked me what helped me the most in nurturing Orgasmic Chef. It didn’t take me very long to say, “I have three books that combined are the bible for me.”
She was surprised that I would mention hard copy books rather than websites and asked what the books were that made up this 3-volume food blogging bible. The truth is, there’s no secret at all. Most accomplished food writers and even those of us who are hoping to become accomplished, all own these three books. Even Charlie wants to get into this writing business!
I bought this first book from the author at my first Eat Drink Blog conference in Adelaide a couple of years ago. Yes, I’m talking about Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob. Dianne is a writing coach, freelance writer and guest speaker who takes no prisoners when talking about writing. If she thinks you’ve written something stupid, she doesn’t sugarcoat her advice. I love that about her. We’ll never get better with advice that makes us feel good.
She has had a long career as editor-in-chief of a publishing company, editor-in-chief of a city magazine and before that she was a VP of a public relations firm specializing in print publicity. Dianne has several degrees in journalism, so we can read her book with full confidence that she knows what she’s talking about.
The second book probably sits dog-eared on many a food blogger’s bookshelf. Mine certainly looks that way. Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin is the book I turn to if I have a photography question. Helene’s writing is easy to read and even easier to understand. She was born in the mountains of Provence in France and moved to the United States in the late 90s.
She is Senior Photographer for Oxmoor House, the cookbook division of Time, Inc and blogs at the popular Tartlette. Her photographs are not only beautiful, they also tell a story. Sometimes it’s just a piece of grated cheese casually placed on a plate and I can imagine myself grating cheese over the dish.
Finally, Food Styling by Delores Custer is written for the professional food stylist but the ideas, tips and tricks really get my attention. I know I don’t do half of the things she recommends but the book is fairly new on my shelf. I’m getting there!
Food Styling is not an inexpensive book but who’s going to give away secrets they’ve worked a lifetime to develop for next to nothing? Nobody.
Delores has been a professional freelance food stylist since 1978. Her work has been seen in most of the best food magazines and she’s often asked to teach courses in food styling and recipe writing. She also does demonstrations for students at The Culinary Institute of America as well as other culinary schools around the world.
I’ve learned from Pixel to Plate to keep all my props organized and handy. Here’s what it looks like under the stairs at my house. The next photo is my stash of fabrics, napkins and tablecloths. I put them on the rods so I don’t have to keep ironing them. I need a better solution so if you have any ideas, I’m all ears.
During my conversation with Sarah, my friend on Twitter, she asked me if I’d ever shared these books on my blog and it was a ‘duh’ moment. I suppose I initially assume everyone knows more than I do so I don’t need to share. Her advice was that I should write this post. If you all own these books, terrific. If not, you might add one to your Christmas gift list.
I have linked the book titles to Bookworld here in Australia as a favour to them. When Lorraine Elliott’s book, Not Quite Nigella, came out I pre-ordered my friend’s book so I could get my sticky fingers on it first. Bookworld got the book to me within 24 hours. You might think that’s no big deal but my experience with Australian booksellers before Bookworld was that I could order from the states and get a book faster than I could from Australia.
Thank you so much for generously sharing these books and advice. Kudos to Sarah for sparking the conversation:)
What excellent recommendations, Maureen! I’ve not read any of them, so you’ve really piqued my interest. 🙂
Amanda (@lambsearshoney) says
Thanks for sharing your inspirations, Maureen.
I was thrilled that Dianne agreed to come to Adelaide as I’d been a fan for some time – she’s just gold!
Mel @ The cook's notebook says
Great post! I’ve been coveting the food styling book for many years and should just go and get it. The other two are also on my bookshelf, but have not been read as much as they should have. Love your props storage – what about a clothes rack for your linens? I really need to get myself sorted with a photography space.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
What a helpful post! And thank you so much for the lovely mention too, you’re such a sweet heart Maureen! xxx
Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine says
I have all three of these books on my bookshelf. We’re just two peas in a pod. The only other one that really helped me, being a dummy about all of this stuff, was Blogging for Dummies.
I love a these books Maureen ! Sounds amazing.
I have someones but more little
But I will try to buy some of these:)
Gourmet Getaways says
Great books and nice setup you got there! I love that dog!
Such terrific resources! I need to purchase that food styling book ASAP!
Vicki Bensinger says
Great suggestions Maureen. I have those books as well plus many more. Of all I think Will Write For Food helped me most. I still struggle with my photos mainly because I think I need someone to sit with me and show me. I’m a visual learner. Denise Vivaldo also has some great tips on food styling.
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
Interesting post, Maureen. I have From Pixel to Plate and love it. I have my props all organized but rather idiotically have all my cloths and napkins etc folded so I have to whip out the iron if I want to use them. Great idea to store them on rods – now why didn’t I think of that!
Ok, it is now done. I have officially developed intense blogging inferiority complex….
Suzy @ The Mediterranean Dish says
Maureen, I loved reading this post! Being new, I can use these books. Thanks for sharing!
I couldn’t agree more with these three books. I remember the day I got my Food Styling book, I didn’t put it down for weeks! Dianne’s book is amazing and I’ve read it cover to cover at least 3 times. I am only partially through Plate to Pixel but so far I love it. I have a digital copy I really think I need to just buy the darn book. It makes a huge difference.
Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ) says
I want to get my hands on the Plate to Pixel book – a very generous post Maureen – thanks for sharing and what wise dog Charlie is and how helpful he must be:)
Mary Frances says
Great selection Maureen! In the past, I had hired Delores for many a photo shoot. She is delightful to work with and a lovely lady. I recently ran into her teaching a class. Next time I see her, I’ll tell her about you!!
Mary Frances says
ooops – forgot to check my Comment luv!
John@Kitchen Riffs says
Excellent post! I love your suggestions. I don’t have Diane Jacob’s book, but I have the other two — both are great. Food Styling for Photographers by Linda Bellingham and Jean Ann Bybee is also very good. Much less detailed than Delores Custer’s book, but also has a bit more hands-on photography discussion.
Carol at Wild Goose Tea says
I was unaware of these books. I am a reader. Very very very interesting.
Veronica (Roni) says
Thanks heaps Maureen…just what we needed. I am also doing it blind, so your sharing is a little bit of gold :)) Have a honey of a day … cheers Roni xx
Choc Chip Uru says
That food styling book is SO good 😀
I know zilch about it, I just put it somewhere and hope for the best 😛
Choc Chip Uru
Another of the many reasons I don’t start a blog. It’s just too much work 🙂
That’s interesting to know about Bookworld, thanks M. I’ve never ordered from them before! I actually don’t own any books related to blogging at all, maybe I should get some.. 🙂
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Excellent post, Maureen! I have a couple of the books you mention…. I think I need to get my hands on that food styling one too!
I have a feeling that these three books are a Master’s level college course on food blogging. Thank you millions and millions. You are not only an outstanding food blogger you are a great and priceless friend. Blessings.
Hotly Spiced says
This is so helpful, Maureen. As food bloggers those are the ‘trinity’ of things that make up what we do – writing, photography and styling. Definitely styling is my biggest issue. I need to get that book xx
Norma Chang says
I am not familiar with any of the books but am definitely going to get familiar with them real soon as I need all the help I can get. Thanks for sharing.
Anna @ shenANNAgans says
Fantastic post, and brilliant recommendations. Thanks for sharing! Love your photo setup too.
Thanks for this post Maureen. I need to get two of these books. I bought Plate to Pixel a few years back and I too learnt about importance of props in the life of a food blogger from Helene.
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day! I was not familiar with these books either Maureen, so thanks for allowing me to learn something new and laughed about ordering the book from the states as was quicker!
Helene D'Souza says
I have two of the above books and I obviously love them. I still want to get food styling though. Interesting to see how you have been working. I wish I had a place where I could store the props etc, they accumulate fast, although I am not a big buyer of things.
Amy (Savory Moments) says
This is a helpful post, Maureen. Thanks for the book recommendations!
No, I don’t own any of these so thanks for sharing. I love your “behind the scenes” photo!
HI Maureen, great post, I certainly could use help in all areas. Thanks for the recommendations!
movita beaucoup says
I adore Plate to Pixel! Such a great book – even for those not photographing food! I recommend it to everyone.
Sandra - The Foodie Affair says
Great recommendations, Maureen! I think I’ll splurge and buy a book or two. Heck, why not all three! I actually prefer paper books instead of online reading. Nothing like ear markings your own book 🙂
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
I have been meaning to by pixel to plate for ages but now I’ll have to get the styling one too! Your collection looks much neater than mine. Mine is all over the shop!
Mrs Mulberry says
Great recommendations Maureen, I couldn’t agree more! I love Lorraine’s book and plate to pixel. Two of my faves!!
Sherry from sherryspickings says
I have rushed off and ordered the will write for food book. I have seen it on several blogs lately so I think I need it:)
She takes no prisoners, especially in person. I could listen to her talk about writing all day long. It makes perfect sense.
Emma @ Bake Then Eat says
I think we all have our ‘blogging bibles’ we go to, 2 of mine are here on this list, plate to pixel and will write for food the other one I found really useful is food blogging for dummies. Combined I find all three usually provide the answers for me. Great post I love nosing about other peoples bookshelves 😀
I’ve had two people recommend food blogging for dummies so I must get it. I’ve always found the dummies books for real beginners but apparently this book is not. Thanks!
I have the first two, but not the third, so I’ll have to rectify that. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience to glean here, and I find Pinch of Yum to be a helpful resource too. Organizing props and linens is something I’m still working on — I have some in the back of the closet I forget are there. Great post!
I know what you mean, I’ve been going through everything trying to sort what belongs in the kitchen and what are usually props only. 🙂
InTolerant Chef says
Great advice thanks Maureen!
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Great post Maureen! It goes to show what an amateur I am…no books or props at my house. Your photography set up is terrific as well.
I love this “behind the scenes” post! I find hearing about others blogging life is so very interesting. Taking photos is what I struggle – I see your lighting set up, definitely what I need as I can only really take photos on the weekend when it’s daylight!
Me too, Linda, me too. I look at photos from other bloggers and wish I could be half as good. I’m not giving up my quest!
Thanks for sharing this great tips and advise
Feeling rather smug that I have and love the first two of those three books! I’m extra interested in the third now, sounds like a nice Christmas present to myself…