Interview with Gloria Duggan, Food Blogger and Recipe Developer
Hi Gloria! Could you please introduce yourself to the readers?
Hello, my name is Gloria and I am a Food Blogger/Recipe Developer & Photographer.
My blog is Homemade & Yummy (https://homemadeandyummy.com).
I am a wife, mom and gramma. I started my blog after I retired because of an idea from a good friend of mine. I had NO idea what a blog was, or how to start one.
I LOVE to cook, so I thought why not? Food plays such an important part in the special times shared with family and friends. ALL holidays and special occasions are celebrated here in our home. I hope to create some wonderful memories for my children and grandchildren, just like my mom and baba did for me.
I built my site (I have zero tech experience), joined social media platforms (which I knew nothing about), and started this business. With the constant support and help from my loving husband, business is growing every year. I have partnered with some great brands to promote their products, and look forward to working with new companies along my journey.
What came first in your life: the passion for Gastronomy or for Photography?
Gastronomy was FIRST for sure. Coming from a Ukrainian family, food was such a huge part of my upbringing. My mom, aunts and baba had large vegetable gardens, my uncle had a farm that we would get our meat from, and one of my aunts had a fruit orchard as well.
No one ate processed food. Bread, pasta, preserves, soups….you name it, all were made from scratch. As a child, I never had store bought anything.
How long have you been a food blogger?
I have been blogging for just over 4 years.
Looking at your website, we find that there is a lot of information available and a lot of work and dedication. How much time per day do you dedicate to this project?
This is a business, and just like any business you have to work if you plan on getting results. Honestly, I work more hours in a day than when I was working at my previous job. A regular day is anywhere from 8-12 hours 5 days a week, and 2-4 hours a day on weekends (unless I am doing a photo shoot, judging a food competition or out on a brand engagement shoot).
A typical blog recipe post includes: creating the recipe, shopping for ingredients, making the food, food styling and shooting the pictures, photo editing and writing a blog post that people would be interested in reading. Then of course there is the kitchen to clean…thank goodness I have a great helper. My husband loves washing dishes in exchange for getting to eat the food. YES we do eat the food, so I do not use any chemicals to make it look good for photos.
Very early you verified that, in order to get the message right to your audience and to make reading your blog pleasant, the visual component was very important, right? How were your first steps in regard to food photography?
Ok, this is where you might be surprised. When I started my blog, I didn’t think of the photography aspect because I really DID NOT like taking pictures! I had a cheap point and shoot camera (that I hardly used). I knew this was not going to work for my blog, so I started with an old Nikon camera that my husband has. He liked taking pictures, unlike myself.
So, for the first 3+ years I struggled to learn on his camera. We purchased some new lenses, and he tried (sometimes endlessly) to explain to me the aspects of photography and how to use the camera. OMG this was WAY harder than cooking. Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, F stops…this was like a foreign language to me.
Honestly I thought I would NEVER figure this out, but I knew if I didn’t, I might as well pack it in. He tried taking some pictures for me, but that didn’t seem to work either. It was too hard for me to explain to him exactly what I wanted to see in the shot. I had to learn how to take the pictures myself, and I believe that I have.
We can see that you have a huge variety of dishes, bowls, towels, cutlery and props. Have you transformed your kitchen into an authentic studio? Or are there simple and practical ways for people to improve their food photographs with a few simple steps? Would you like to share some tips?
I have just recently turned a spare bedroom into a photo studio, and this has made a HUGE difference for me in both saving time and organization. Prior to that, I was shooting either on the dining room table, or on the coffee table in the living room because I have a small kitchen.
Having everything in one room is amazing. I have a large desk that I use as my table. My camera equipment, lights, and a restaurant style shelving unit that stores all my props (dishes, glasses, linens, etc.) are beside my desk so everything is close at hand.
As far as props go, I am constantly adding to my collection. You can get some great things at yard sales, but most of my items have been purchased from a few of my favourite stores. I watch for the sales (like really good sales) and buy a few items throughout the year.
Backdrops are foam board covered in peel and stick paper, ceramic tiles, and my husband has also made me a few wooden boards as well. I have not bought any of the expensive backdrops on the internet, and I do not feel the need for them either. You can find lots of information on how to make these at home at a fraction of the cost.
What’s your current equipment setup and why Olympus?
Currently I use the OMD E-M1 Mark ll, and the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 12-100mm F4 Pro lens.
Like I mentioned earlier, I started with an old Nikon and knew that I would have to upgrade to achieve the results I was looking for. We did so much research (like my husband literally did this for days), trying to figure out what to buy.
I had some criteria that the camera had to have, like touch screen and live view. We honestly were considering a full frame camera, but could not find exactly everything in one camera.
My husband kept coming back to the Olympus E-M1 Mark ll, but I was still hesitant since I already had a crop sensor and really wanted to go full frame.
One of the features that totally sold me on the Olympus camera was image stabilization since I do not like using the tripod (unless absolutely necessary). It is awkward and it takes much longer for me to shoot with it.
I am THRILLED with the results of this camera. I have not used a tripod since getting my Olympus camera in December 2017. I have even shot pictures for magazines and electronic billboards hand held. AWESOME. This camera saves me so much time in photoshoots, and the picture quality is amazing.
Natural or artificial light?
Shots for my site are 100% artificial light. Unfortunately we don’t have great lighting from outside. I would constantly have to move to different rooms in the house, depending on the time of day I am taking pictures. Besides, when I plan on doing a photo shoot, 90% of the time it just happens to be dark and cloudy that day.
Did you learn by yourself, with practice, or do you have training in Photography, more specifically, food photography?
Practice, practice, practice is the name of the game. I still feel like I have so much to learn. I have bought some photography books, and taken a couple of workshops. Like I mentioned earlier , I did not like taking pictures at all. If you look at some of my old posts (that I am in the process of redoing), the photography is terrible. I knew that if I had any hopes of growing this business and getting brands interested in working with me, this was something I had to learn.
Olympus has helped me improve my photography so much. I did not have anything published in magazines or billboards until I started using this camera. I am so happy we made the right decision in choosing the OMD E-M1 Mark ll.
This camera is simply amazing. When I want to capture that perfect action shot (like a drip sliding off a spoon), I can shoot up to 60 frames per second. I’ve never had to take pictures that fast (yet), but knowing I can makes this a very special camera indeed. Thank you Olympus for making my creative process easier.
“I am a Food Blogger/Recipe Developer & Photographer. I am a wife, mom and gramma. I started my blog after I retired because of an idea from a good friend of mine. I have partnered with some great brands to promote their products, and look forward to working with new companies along my journey.”