Day in the Life: Recipe Photoshoots

‘Sup fam? Serious question. I’m 29. Is that too old to be calling everyone “fam”? Because I can’t stop. Somehow I work “Come through fam, it’s lit” into a sentence like once a day and I’m starting to think I need an intervention.


DITL posts always seem to be a hit so I figured I’d throw another one at you to show you what a recipe shooting day looks like for me (this was yesterday). I’ve mentioned before that I try to focus on one task category a day because it helps me be way more productive. I’ll go into a recipe shoot day with at least two weeks worth of food content planned. In the winter months, sunlight hours are limited, so I wouldn’t be able to shoot more than that in a day, but in the summer, I am typically able to stretch that to three weeks worth of food content. Clearly some preparation needs to happen prior to shoot days so I’ll start with all that’s done leading up to them.

Preparing for a Day of Recipe Shooting

  • Recipe creation and testing – I’m not a dedicated food blog so it’s not like I need to be cranking out new recipes right and left. I’ll play around with new recipes throughout the week and jot them down in a notebook as I go. If they need tweaking (they almost always do), I’ll leave notes and jot down ingredient changes for the next time I attempt the recipe. Once I have 3-5 keepers with all the kinks worked out, I’ll set a date for a big recipe shoot of all of them.
  • Check the weather forecast – Lighting is EVERYTHING when it comes to taking pictures of your food. With my window setup, I need a sunny day with little to no clouds for the best results (for others, cloudy days might actually be best–totally depends on the direction your window is facing and the layout of the room). I’ll look at the week’s forecast, pick a sunny day, and mark it down on my calendar.
  • Make a grocery list – I then go through my notebook and write down all the ingredients I’ll need for all the recipes in a separate shopping list, crosschecking my kitchen cabinets so that I don’t buy anything I already have.
  • Grocery shopping – I live in a city and don’t have a car anymore so big shopping trips are tricky. I’ll usually break up my list into a few separate trips, going to Roche Brothers a couple days in advance to get the bulk and stock ingredients and then Whole Foods the day before or day of to get all the produce.

Day in the Life

5AM | Wake Up, Walk to the Studio, Panic Attack

I woke up at 5AM, quickly got myself ready and then made the short walk to Btone to teach my morning classes. I spent a couple minutes testing out one of the transitions I had planned for that day’s routine and I’m glad I did–totally weird and clunky. Change of plans! As I got my playlist queued up and waited for everyone to arrive, I realized I hadn’t brought a snack with me to the studio (usually I eat a Larabar or an apple before teaching in the early morning). NOOooOooOoOOOOoooo. I stared forlornly at my water bottle full of stupid water, wished it were edible, then got over it.

6-9AM | Teach

WEARING | Fabletics top & leggings // ToeSox grippy socks

On Wednesdays I teach three back-to-back classes. There are always tons of regulars and familiar faces so it’s a really fun block for me to teach. I know teaching three fitness classes on an empty stomach sounds insane but there’s no downtime in between the classes to even really think about it. Honestly didn’t bother me until the last class ended. Then the hanger hit …

9:30 | Whole Foods Run

I walked from the studio to the Whole Foods at Ink Block, blind with hunger, stumbling off the sidewalk, clutching to chainlink fences as my vision blurred and the world around me spun dangerously out of control. My knees buckle as my empty stomach churns and twists and I hurl myself across the pavement one forearm in front of the other, dragging my lifeless body inch by inch closer to the doors of salvation.

Me? Dramatic? Nahhh.

YOU GUYS. I am a real peach to be around when I’m hangry. That above paragraph didn’t actually happen per se, but it was happening in my mind, ya feel me?!

I booked it straight to the smoothie bar, probably shoving innocent elderly women out of my way in the process (can’t say for sure, I think I blacked out), and ordered a juice and a smoothie and then grabbed a Larabar off the shelf and ate it while I waited for my breakfast. As long as you don’t rip the barcode and hand the cashier your wrapper to scan, I think it’s totally acceptable to eat your food before paying for it at grocery stores … right?

Wow this blog post is all over the place. Focus, Nicole, FOCUS!

I got the remaining ingredients I’d need for the recipe shoot and walked home.

10:30 | Prep for Cooking/Shooting/Life

Joe left the kitchen really clean for me, which was awesome because I could get right to work!

In all fairness, I, too, am a bit of a slob. Before diving into the cooking I:

  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • Got dressed – I’ve noticed that taking a few minutes to put together a cute outfit and maybe–MAYBE–some mascara actually helps me be a little more productive when working from home. It doesn’t happen every day (as my Snapchat followers have probably noticed by now haha), but the past few months I have been making an effort to wear normal clothes more often.

WEARING | Demi Bolo Necklace by Vanessa Mooney c/o Shopbop // RAILS shirt (RAILS is amazing–seriously worth the money!!) // Level 99 jeans

  • Queued up an audio book – When I’m cooking, I either like to listen to informative podcasts on health and wellness or listen to scandalous fiction crime novels with absolutely no educational value. There is no in between. Right now I’m listening to The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz which is good–definitely entertaining–but a little ridiculous. There’s a brain tumor and amnesia involved soooo … enough said.

Now it’s time to cook!

11:30-4PM | Cook and Shoot (and Eat)

As far as my shoot setup goes, it’s about as barebones as it gets. My desk is white and in a corner right by a big window so I just clear it off and use that. Back in my old, dark apartment, I had a whole white poster board wall system to bounce light, but the walls of my desk nook pretty much take care of that for me. I don’t use a ton of props either because I live in a one-bedroom apartment–storage space is far from plentiful.

It looks a bit depressing from behind the scenes but just check out the end result: 

Like what?! Proof that you don’t need a ton of expensive equipment to start a blog.

Whatever the cook time of a recipe is, I have to add on at least 30 minutes when shooting because I’ll stop throughout the process to walk everything into my bedroom and take pictures of it. The in-progress shots don’t always make it into the final recipe blog post, but I find they come in handy when I need pretty stock photography of food for other blog posts and social shares. 

In total, I shot three recipes and then two other food-related things for a client. Since I don’t post more than one or two recipes in a week on the blog, this content will last me until mid-February–score!

4-5:30PM | Emails

My most loathed part of blogging: the ever-exploding email inbox.

6PM | Yoga

(I chickened out taking a selfie at the studio and instead just took one of the mats–so stealth haha)

Monday and Tuesday were intense workout days for me and my body was like gurrrl get yo’ ass to yoga. I went to Slow Flow at YogaWorks with Kate and I seriously can’t recommend her classes enough. Slow Flow is a gentler vinyasa mixed with restorative poses and my body just screams YASSS this is delicious the entire time.

Side note: why is my body talking like a sassy drag queen?!

I actually had one of those emotional release moments in this yoga class that I talked about here. We were laying on our backs with a rolled blanket under the base of our shoulder blades and the stretch was giving me an intense opening through the upper rib cage. Suddenly a wave of intense anxiety came out of no where and I had a mini panic attack. Why am I so anxious? Am I forgetting something I should be doing right now? Did I leave the oven on? But just as quickly as the anxiety rose up, it vanished and I realized it was probably getting released with the stretch–so crazy when that happens!

7:30-10PM | Dinner, Class Plan, TV

After yoga, I showered, munched on some leftover stuffed peppers from the shoot for dinner and settled onto the couch. I planned the next morning’s Btone class and watched some mindless TV before getting into bed at 10pm.

And that was my day! Any crime/murder mystery book suggestions for me? Boston friends–have you tried Slow Flow? Fellow bloggers–what do your recipe shoots look like?

Some links to outfit details are affiliate.