Taking Photos of Your Tea Experiences

Sharing photos of the teas you are drinking at any particular time online on your blog or on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook is becoming a rather common occurrence. The big question on your mind is probably: Why don’t my photos of tea ever look as perfect as those on tea vendor websites?

A photo setup should have flair
A photo setup should have flair

I always use photos in my tea reviews and often take the photos that are used with my tea articles. Why do I bother? The vendor has great, professionally taken photos on their site. Most would easily consent to me using them if I asked or would even provide me with even better resolution copies than on their site. I’ve asked a few times and most site owners have responded this way. However, I prefer to do my own for a couple of reasons:

  1. My photos give a personal touch, while at the same time assuring that I really tried the tea;
  2. I have a digital camera that would otherwise just sit there looking lonesome ― oh yeah, and I’m an artist so it’s fun for me.

(Note: not all tea reviewers have a camera available to them, but that doesn’t mean their review is not legitimate.)

If you’ve ever been frustrated by the gorgeous photos of what a particular food dish or tea, etc., should look like based on the perfect photos in the cookbook, magazine article, or blog site only to have your own photographic efforts fall a tad short in the appearance department, never fear. It’s not you. It’s the photographer.

Food photography is a real art and one that few practice well. I don’t always get true color, for example, plus I don’t have the lighting options of a pro. Often, hubby and I photograph in the kitchen so I can get reflections off of that granite composite countertop we spent so much on before the economy skewed. Getting our money’s worth!

That brings me to my list of photo tips:

  • Pick a location where you can set things up the way you want, that has good lighting, and that isn’t too far away from where you fix your tea (or at least where you heat the water)
  • Keep a lamp or two handy to give you additional light when you need it (you’ll want some shadowing to give your photos depth but not so much that viewers can’t tell what they’re seeing)
  • Build up your collection of teapots, teacups, and other items to use in your photos or put together one or more “regulars” (teawares you use consistently in your photos)
  • Avoid flash when you can, especially if you’re photographing something white, since it will look washed out and you won’t get the delicate nuances of color shadings and reflections that you would with natural light
  • Speaking of reflections, if you are snapping something that’s shiny such as a stainless steel electric kettle, you could end up being in the photo, whether you intend to be or not
  • When photographing tea in a glass teapot, cup, etc., be sure to have a light colored background (I often set mine on a white plate)
  • Don’t worry about your tea leaves looking different from the vendor’s photo, since that’s a pro’s photo and you are trying to show your readers what you saw when you opened the pouch, tea tin, etc. (photos that look too good can lead to disappointment)
  • Use a tripod to cut down on shakiness and blurred photos
  • Try different settings on your camera, and if you’re using a digital camera, don’t go by the preview since the colors will not be the same as on your computer (I use close-up, night time, and auto settings, and then select the best one among those)
  • Crop out extraneous items whenever possible, or save yourself some fuss and remove anything out of the line of the camera lens (what you think your readers won’t notice they will)
  • Set up your photo layout or at least have some idea of what you want to photograph before beginning your tea tasting or photo session
  • Finally, add a copyright notice to each photo (you’ll have to open the photo in a software program on your computer to do this)

Some samples of mine vs. the pros: 

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

2 thoughts on “Taking Photos of Your Tea Experiences

  1. Pingback: A Year of Great Blog Articles « Tea Blog

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