How We Shot Our Bountiful Cookbook Cover & Outtakes

The last few weeks have been quite adventurous. Between our work shoots and trip to Orlando’s Disneyworld for Food Blog Forum we’ve braved Space Mountain and shooting highly reflective glassware in the same week. If you’ve ever experienced either one of those, you’ll know that they both pose their own set of challenges.

More on our Food Blog Forum Disney World adventures on a later post, but we wanted to share some slides with you all here on the blog that we shared on our photography presentation at the conference. Part of our talk was showing behind the scenes from other photographers and how they were able to achieve their beautiful food photographs. The audience really loved seeing these blogger’s behind the scenes and it was super helpful to see how others capture their images in their home set up.

For our portion, we shared how we were able to get our blog photo’s including how we captured our Bountiful cookbook cover! It was so much fun to show our messy home and studio set ups.

We wanted to show the audience that it doesn’t take a bunch of expensive gear or tools to get a decent photo.

So we’re sharing part of that presentation for you today along with some never-before-seen outtakes! Well, except for at the conference. How about, never-been-posted-online-before outtakes!

Though our cookbook is vegetable and fruit focused, we wanted to show the diversity of the recipes: from seafood/meat-based, to whole grains and desserts. So we wanted to makes sure the cover conveyed those elements. But we also wanted the cover to feel real and make the viewer feel that they were at the table with us. That’s why we didn’t want a perfectly manicured/styled scene. A little crumb and mess was ok. It was important to us to show the cover as a shared eating experience, rather than a perfectly staged scene.

We shot the cover in our studio, with natural light from a roll-up warehouse door. There was so much light, so we had lots of black panels to block out the excess light.

See the table-top we used? We found it on our neighbors sidewalk with a “free” sign on it. Score!

Here’s a closer look at the set. The wood board with the clamps on it was used for a straight on shot from a different angle.

We shot several variations and these were the two that we sent to our Abrams publisher team and book designer for approval. Everyone loved the one on the left and thankfully, they  loved having our hands in the shot! So Amy our designer finished off the final design.  Ta Da!

For the hand shot, we forgot our remote trigger at home, so we used the timer in the camera to set the timer, then jumped back down to the table and held our breath, hoping that our hands were in the right position. We did this on several shots. It worked, but only took about %$# times. But we did it.

For all the communal, gathering and dinner scenes from the cookbook. We photographed them in our kitchen (messy!) and our garden.

We had different groups of friends come over on several occasions to eat and we had their hands in some of the shots. Here’s the famous “free” table-top again that we used. We shot the indoor table scenes in our tiny dining room. You can see how small our house is based on our dining room. The ceiling are low too, so all our tall friends can easily reach the ceiling. We’re the short people with the cameras. 🙂

For the recipe shots that we shot in our kitchen, we set up a folding table in our little dining room and used the natural light coming through our sliding glass patio doors. Inexpensive Ikea panels were used to diffuse the light.

Here’s a shot of the pears. But it never made the final cut of the cookbook. Instead, we used a different pear photo.

Out-takes with our crazy cast of characters.

Alex couldn’t figure out how to start the lighter for the candles. Jennie thinks we need lighter fluid. And Geri says “Alex is this much taller than us!” .

Now, Alex stoops low so she can be everyone’s same height. Julie is loving “shorty-Alex”. These two are having their own comedy scene on their end of the table. Jen and Geri try not to spit out their wine and ignore Alex and Julie.

Happy and beautiful Julie. We made sure her wine glass was always full.

The pups always somehow managed their way into the shots, hoping to get a bite of the feast. Sierra loved to nap, while Lexi enjoyed harassing our guests.

Why were Sierra and Lexi nose-touching?! hmmm….. And Lexi managed her way on Alex’s lap, hoping to get a piece of the berry pie! It didn’t happen.

We attempted a table scene with these even crazier group of friends. This photo felt way too staged, fake and we were trying not to laugh too hard….

So we told everyone to “act natural! be yourselves!”. And we got this. Thank goodness none of these made the cut!

So there you have it, some behind the scene shots of our cookbook adventure!  You can order Bountiful on Amazon here !

And here’s our previous cover announcement post with more images that didn’t make the cut.


diane and todd


{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Girish

    Thanks for the behind the scenes post. I truly love the arrangement of the main shot! Great use of colors as well.

  2. Kristen

    Love it – can’t wait to see it in real life!

  3. Waiting on Martha (@WaitingonMartha)

    Love seeing the behind the scenes! Everything is seriously beautiful. I want to cuddle all those pups too! xo Big Hugs @ Waiting on Martha

  4. Tiffany

    Thank you so much for posting this! As an aspiring food blogger/photographer it is so refreshing to see what goes into making a photo – whether for a blog or a cookbook. This was really inspiring!

  5. Nicole

    I love the peek behind the scenes. I’ll definitely be implementing some of these tips … hopefully my neighbors will have a Free table for me! Oh, congratulations on the book!

  6. Marilyn @Pink Martinis and Pearls

    Congratulations on the book. It looks beautiful. 🙂

  7. katie

    Oh I love that you guys shared the behind the scenes! I can’t wait to get a copy of your new book!

  8. Roberta

    Loved the ‘behind the scene’ post and the way you let us enter your world, your studio, your work.
    Thanks for sharing
    best wishes for the book!

  9. dervla

    PS: that photo of Lexi grabbing your guest’s leg is killing me!

  10. dervla

    Yay what a lovely post! You guys are the best 🙂 I feel honored and lucky that I got to work on the book with you.

  11. Helene

    I am so excited and I did pre-order your cookbook 🙂 Can’t wait to finally get it.

  12. Alaiyo Kiasi-Barnes

    Thanks for showing how wonderful photos can be with only natural light! Your book cover is beautiful.

  13. Clare

    Drat! Not available until October here but I think I can find my way around it – going to buzz my sis in LA :).

  14. Clare

    Woo hoo as soon as I’m done writing this comment, I’m clicking that Amazon link and hoping I can get it delivered to Ireland. 🙂 Massive congratulations to both of you on the book, what an accomplishment. But I’m not surprised, you two work incredibly hard and are so diligent with always learning and researching and opening yourselves up to new experiences…it’s a calling, not a job, and you guys do it with pride and passion every day. Can’t wait to get my copy – it’ll be like having a little piece of you guys and sunny SoCal here with me.

  15. Julie

    Congrats guys! It looks beautiful and I’ve already pre-ordered my copy of this lovely book (yay). As I always say, you guys make magic happen. Thanks for being you.

  16. Abbe@This is How I Cook

    If you ever need to shoot other table scenes, I’m available. And I don’t mind if I end up as an out take!

  17. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom

    Love this post and can’t wait for the cookbook. . I know it will be beautiful. . I just planted my own fruits and veggies in a local community garden so can’t wait for your recipes! I must ask: where did you get that beautiful table on the grass (photo with your 4 girlfriends). . I love it!

  18. Susan Cunningham

    I love your blog and look forward to your new book. Are any of your photos available for sale?


    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hello Susan, yes, we do have different photo prints available on our photo store and greeting cards too. . Thank you!

  19. Ashley

    Behind the scenes posts are always my favorite. Loved this!!

  20. Katherines Corner

    love this post. seeing the behind the scenes goodies is so fun. Congrats on the cookbook. Wishing you great success and many printings. xo

  21. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet

    I love this post! I’m always curious of the behind the scenes of food photography. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  22. Erika-Southern Souffle

    Those pup pictures are pulling at my heartstrings..seriously. So excited for this beautiful cookbook.

  23. Chris

    Outtakes are the best! And I absolutely love how your pups fit right in. That’s how it should be. Thank you for including the behind the scene/set up shots – helpful for those of us learning the ropes!

  24. Tom M.

    Thanks for sharing some of the behind the scenes shots and low-budget secrets. It’s interesting to know how you did it.

    Is Sierra an American Bulldog?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hi Tom- Sierra is 100% Boxer. Her white color really throws people off and always thinks she’s an American Bulldog or a Pit Bull. 🙂

      1. Tom M.

        Yes, it was the color that threw me. Boxers are great dogs. 🙂

  25. Megan {Country Cleaver}

    I can’t wait to get my mitts on this gorgeous book! It’s a stunner! Those pups just melt my heart, I’d give Lexi a lap to sit on any day. It’s the eyes and little puppy face wrinkles. I’m a sucker.

  26. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    Congrats on a gorgeous cover! I love the details like the free tabletop, the hands in the pic/forgot the remote timer; the shots of your friends, tall Alex, the things you felt were too forced, etc. I love the stories behind it all, and the glimpse into the shooting process. Pinned to my photography board!

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