Hi there! We’re Robin & Sue, food photographer and styling team based in Maplewood, NJ.
While we love to shoot ALL food, we especially love it when we are able to work together with
people who are promoting healthy eating, which is why we are so excited to be jumping in on
Beth’s blog! (Thanks, Beth!) Today we thought it would be fun to give you a little sneak peak
into a shooting day with us so you can learn a little bit about our process and how we make our
For today’s shoot, we made my favorite smoothie. I love making smoothies for breakfast
because at least then I know I’ve started the day off right. To photograph it though, It’s more
than just pointing the camera and shooting! So here’s what we do to make food look it’s best.
Our first step is to gather some inspiration images to get ideas on the look and feel we are
going for with the day’s shoot. From there we can plan what backdrops and surfaces we’ll use,
how we plan to light it, and what props to bring out. Usually, pineapple kale coconut smoothie
Sue decides on the recipe and how to style the food and I decide how it is going to be shot and
lit- will it be shot overhead? Straight-on from the side? A three-quarter angle? And where will
the lighting be coming in from? Is this mimicking early morning? Mid-day? Early evening? Once
those decisions are made, we’re ready to shoot.
For this smoothie, we knew wanted to make it look bright and cheerful- so the idea was a light
and bright photo shoot (as opposed to a dark and moody one, which might be more suitable for
a winter soup, but eh hem, I’ve had one too many of those this January and we want some
sunshine!) Because of this, we chose to shoot on a white marble surface to make the color of
the smoothie really pop. We also wanted to highlight some of the great healthy ingredients in
the smoothie, since once they are blended you will not be able to see what’s inside. So we
decided to surround it with big chunks of the pineapple and kale.
A word of advice when shooting food- don’t just run to the store and choose the first kale bunch
you see! Food stylists take their time really looking at which ones look the freshest and buy
those. You may get some weird looks from the produce department, but no worries, I think
secretly they love that you are showing the care those vegetables deserve!
We now have to set up our set. We get our backgrounds and surfaces in place, our props and
glassware ready, but, we don’t put the food in yet! We use a stand-in (maybe it’s a rolled up
towel or something like that to hold its place) because here’s the thing: food starts to wilt,
discolor, and settle while onset. I happen to have LED lights so they are not hot, but even
still, you’ve seen food after it sits awhile- it turns color, develops a crust, loses its
So, once all these things are in place, we do some test shots to set up our lighting the way we
want it. We then make sure the props are in a pleasing composition and our colors are showing
appropriately on camera, and that I have a good white balance since those whites need to be
NOW it’s time to add the food! We pour the smoothie into a glass that’s already exactly where
we want it to be in the frame. We shoot and Sue starts to make the little micro-adjustments to
make it look perfect- moving the kale around, the pineapple chunks, checking for condensation,
etc. It’s definitely a job for people who are patient because it sometimes takes 30 minutes to
an hour to perfect a shot! This definitely surprises people, but it’s true! Sometimes we luck
out and nail it right away, but being the perfectionists that we are, it usually takes that
Hope you enjoyed hearing about our process. If you are curious to know more, we’d love to
hear from you! Come check out our website at www.robinandsue.com and drop us an
email. We welcome any conversations about food, and if we can help you make your food
shine, let us know!
Pineapple Kale Coconut Smoothie
1 cup coconut milk (the kind in the dairy aisle in the carton)
1 T almond butter
½ t chia seeds
1 t flaxseeds
½ frozen banana
½ cup frozen pineapple
Handful of kale, sliced off the stem
In a high-speed blender, add ingredients in order. Blend until smooth. Add small amounts of
water, if necessary. Enjoy!