Let's talk creative process, foodie favorites and secrets of the food blog trade.
Scanning human history, there’s not really a clear moment that indicates exactly when food documentation ingrained itself into our species. Maybe it started in 1983, when JVC released its first portable VHS recorder and countless videos of one-year-old babies eating cake sprang into existence. Or perhaps it goes all the way back to prehistoric man, when the night’s meal was scribbled across cave walls in the forms of leaping bison and deer.
However it began, one thing’s certain: it’s a practice that’s not going away any time soon. With the various social media platforms and visual editing tools at our disposal, capturing what we eat in pictures and words has become a cultural staple — and one that seems to transcend geographic borders.
Amidst this global allure of food, there are those that actually transform the habit into a practiced discipline, capturing artfully crafted settings while showcasing recipes and ingredients in unexpected or eye-catching ways. “Blogging” seems to be too mundane a word for what these people do, but nevertheless, it’s the realm in which they find themselves.
To gain insight into this food blogging arena and the work that goes into being successful there, we sat down with the delicious duo behind The Craft Chew, a local food blog brainchild from the creative team at Brightside Pictures.
1. What made you decide to start a food and beverage blog?
We started chatting about the idea over beers one Saturday afternoon at Social! (Love their Saturday happy hour.) We’re both little hungry kids at heart and love talking about food, trying out different recipes and tasty beers. Originally, we wanted to document our little food and beer adventures. We were already doing video & photography work full-time. We had the gear, so we decided why not turn this into something!
2. Where do you get your inspiration for dishes from?
Honestly, a lot of our inspiration comes from things we’re craving at the time. We’ll roam the aisles in a grocery store, looking at what’s in season (or what’s on sale!) and just bounce ideas off of each other. Most of our recipes start with one of us saying “Oooh, you know what would be good….” and we take it from there.
3. What has been the hardest part of creating content?
Sometimes just writing the first sentence of a post takes a while. I could have so much to say about tomato basil soup, but I just feel stuck on where to start. It’s easy to overthink the words you put down or the shots you get during the cooking process, but we just remind ourselves to have fun with it!
4. Can you take us through your process from concept to final post?
Since we’re always hungry at the grocery store, that’s where most of the ideas start. We grab whatever groceries we need (always enough for at least two tries), then I’ll do a couple of test runs, photographing and trying out different looks along the way. Then we’ll decide if we like it enough to put it out there.
Not every idea is a hit…and that’s ok! It’s still great to practice styling and photographing different types of food. But if it’s tasty enough to hit the blog, I’ll edit the photos and write the recipe card and post to go along with it.
If it’s a recipe we want to add a video component to, then we dive a little deeper and break the recipe down into a shot list. Sean shoots while I make the recipe. We’ll go through the footage together, picking shots we like and the perfect song to match! Once Sean finishes the edit and we have all of our ducks in a row, it’s time to publish, post and share it across our social media platforms. Then, it’s on to the next…
5. How long, from start to finish, does one post generally take?
It’s always different! If there’s a video involved, it takes more time, especially if we’re testing out new ideas. With video editing and post writing, it can be a long (but fun) process.
6. Any tricks that you have concerning food styling or props?
There are so many cool techniques when it comes to styling food. We’re eating and drinking all of the stuff you see on The Craft Chew, so we couldn’t bear the thought of pouring motor oil on our pancakes! But we use wedge shaped makeup sponges to help prop up squirrelly fruits and veggies and a 50/50 mixture of glycerin and water, spritzed on a rocks glass to make perfect condensation that stays put.
7. What gear do you find works best?
Lighting is so important. Natural light is a great source for lighting shots during the day, but if you’re working after the sun goes down, you need to shine some light on those plates of food! We use artificial, continuous light about 95% of the time. We love our Aputure lights (we use the 120dII and 300d).
8. What is your favorite dish that you have cooked? What about one you haven’t cooked yet?
We both really loved and ate way too many of the Cinnamon Pecan Cookies! This was a tweak of another cookie recipe we had done, so I wasn’t sure how they were going to turn out, but heck-to-the-yeah, these were good!
I’m still trying to nail down a hot chicken recipe. I have some serious respect for a good Nashville style hot chicken sandwich with lots of pickles and slaw, so I don’t wanna rush this one.
9. Which dishes have you found people check out the most?
Cocktails and sweets always seem to be really popular!
10. How does this influence your other business, BrightSide?
We try to think of them as two areas of the same business. The blog is something we really enjoy doing for ourselves, so it’s our chance to try out different techniques and styles and figure out what works. It’s like our Brightside practice field!
Starting The Craft Chew made us realize how much we love having anything food related as our subject. There are so many food stories to tell! We want Brightside and The Craft Chew to join forces to document some of those stories and definitely eat some amazing food and sip tasty beers along the way! Right now, we’re in the planning phases of a documentary style food series that we’re calling “Crafted,” so keep an eye out for that!
All photos courtesy of The Craft Chew