food photography

wrightfood photography manual – help japan!

April 12, 2011

About three months ago Danika turned to me and suggested we do more for charity. That is something that you can never just say “meh..” to. So we got thinking. She is a very accomplished artist so we are planning on selling some of her works for charity. We also thought about setting up a large community vegetable garden to supply vegetables and fruits to lower income families, however that is a wee bit adventurous for both our time and wallets right now.

She then said “why don’t you make a book about food photography and sell it”. That was that. For the last two months in the evenings after work you would find me typing away, making illustrations and designing page layouts.

The book is done. It took longer than expected. Apparently that is how it goes with these things.

I am going to keep this short and sweet – here goes:

I wrote a short book on food photography. It covers everything you need to know to get yourself taking great food photos in your house. Examples of how to use scrims, bounce cards, natural light, artificial light. Everything to get you going.

I wanted it to be more than that though. So, what I did was include a bunch of examples. On one full page you see the food photo I took and on the page next to it you get a detailed description of the setup, along with an illustration I did showing exactly how the scene was setup. Where the light was coming from. Where the bounces are. Where the camera is – AND WHY.

There are examples for both natural and artificial light. I talk about lenses, cameras, tripods all that good stuff. I even give advice on composition, scene setup and all that stuff.

By the time you finish this short book, I want you to be able to take really great shots of your awesome food at home. No studio stuff, just a camera and some light, and a few doodads that you can buy at an art supply store.

Now, we all know about the horrors going on in Japan. I don’t need to talk about the loss of life and property. The continuing earthquakes, the radiation. Scenes no disaster movie could ever begin to visualize are happening over there. With that in mind, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to Japan relief, through the Red Cross (and, if anyone knows of a better charity to get the money where it matters, please for heck sake let me know).

Here is how it works:

I designed the book. I wrote it, I took the photography and made the illustrations. I learned Adobe InDesign to put it together (a really fun package BTW) in to a neat little book. Now I just needed to sell it, which I cannot do. Thankfully Blurb can.

CLICK THIS LINK HERE to the buy the book:


The book costs Blurb $34.44 to produce. The cover price is $44.44. Those $10 dollars is what goes to Japan relief. I make absolutely nothing on this. I wish I could make it cheaper for people to buy so I could ramp up the donation cost a bit, and save customers some cash too, but I cannot – that is set by Blurb.

So, don’t waste time reading this blog post. Click that link, go buy the book and lets raise a shit load of money to help those suddenly made less fortunate than ourselves in Japan.

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  • Liren April 12, 2011 at 4:50 am

    What a wonderful way to use your talents for a good cause! I will absolutely share this with everyone I know and can’t wait to see the book in my own hands!

  • Clare Barboza April 12, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Matt, you are the awesomest. That is all.

  • Ethan April 12, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Great idea, great cause, looks like a great book and who doesn’t like doodads!

  • Muriel April 12, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Wow! I am so impressed! What an awesome idea and gift to charity! Can’t wait to get a book!

  • Muriel April 12, 2011 at 5:09 am

    I will definitely be sharing this to all of my readers and everyone that I know! Thanks

  • diane and todd April 12, 2011 at 5:21 am

    You’re the real deal Matt. You rock beyond words!!!

  • Matt Lawrence April 12, 2011 at 5:28 am

    It was great to see you on Sunday, you and Danika are awesome.

  • Kristina April 12, 2011 at 5:46 am

    This looks fantastic. Don’t you just love Blurb?
    Thank you for taking the time to do it and the charity part is just an added bonus. Must go click the link now..

  • Amanda @ Easy Peasy Organic April 12, 2011 at 8:09 am

    A beautiful idea. And beautiful photos, too …

    I’ll be putting this on my wishlist 🙂

  • Frau Haselmayer April 12, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Is there a ebook version of your book available, too?

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food April 12, 2011 at 11:35 am

    An absolutely wonderful idea! We are using Blub for the Peko Peko Cookbook For Japan Relief and they are fantastic.

  • Wandering Chopsticks April 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    If your book is in pdf format, you could also make an electronic version available for $10. I’ve seen craft blogs make their patterns available or even other bloggers sell their own books electronically. Once payment is sent, you get a download link that expires in a few days or get emailed the pdf. I’m not sure how you go about setting it all up, or which one is best, but Payloadz is one method I’ve seen people use. Or you could always just send pdfs to people directly if they pay you via Paypal or send you a receipt for their donation to the Red Cross.

    Your photography is gorgeous and your other photo tips have been really helpful. So I know having a more affordable option would make me, and probably a lot of others, much more likely to buy it.

    There are pirate sites that republish digital books so there is concern about that. But I figure it’s the same concerns we have about other people republishing our blogs. Anyway, just thought I’d make a suggestion that might bring in more donations.

    We all do what we can. And you’re doing a great thing.

  • Matthew April 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    what about publishing it as an E-book at a slightly lower price and higher percentage to relief?

  • Carolyn Jung April 12, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    A wonderful gesture! Kudos to you for doing such a thoughtful act.

  • TripleScoop April 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    What a generous offer.

  • Cristina April 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Matt: A lovely and genuine gesture, and what better way than to sharing your talent. I can’t wait to check it out!

  • Alan April 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Matt, Great job! Very thoughtful!

  • Gary April 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Everything is beautiful…unfortunately, you did not correctly spell voila! You spelled it viola…which is incorrect. Hopefully, you can still make the change!!!

  • David April 12, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I just want to piggyback on what Wandering Chopsticks said. it would be more affordable, but i’d be likely to pay more than 10$ for it then all can go to japan. let me know if that could be a possibility, I love your work and would love to get the book.

  • Winnie April 12, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Love this and just bought my copy Matt.

  • Melissa April 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Hi Matt.
    I agree with some of the other comments. Maybe you can publish an e-copy at a lower price with more $$ going to Japan. I would love one.

  • Erina April 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    What an awesome idea!! I was looking for tips to improve my food photography skills (that’s how I got here) and the ways to help Japan, and you got them both!! I’m a Japanese native, and this means a lot to me. There are ways to donate directly to the devastated areas such as Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, but donating through Red Cross or UNICEF is probably the easiest. Thank you for doing this for my country. I can’t wait to see the book!

  • Jimena A April 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Matt: I think this is a great Idea!! And a great way to share your talent. I will share it with friends and all the people i know who likes food photography.
    Also I think you should make an ebook of it. Great job!

  • Helene April 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Since I always admired your work I just bought the book. Can’t wait to get it. Excellent idea!

  • MarcSeattle April 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Matt, you are my hero. Ordering your book now.

  • MandyM April 15, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I’m going to echo some of the other comments here, a downloadable .pdf version would also be great. I’d be happy to pay $20-$30 for that, which means more goes towards a good cause.

    A great idea and something I’d love to have!

  • Brooke April 15, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Just ordered one. Can’t wait! I want an autograph!

  • HankShaw April 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Great idea! Just ordered one.

  • mike April 20, 2011 at 12:31 am

    echoing others sentiments………..I’d gladly drop ten-twenty bucks for a PDF version that could go straight to japan!


  • zenchef April 21, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I just ordered one!!

    Wow, Matt. You never cease to impress!

  • Eric April 21, 2011 at 2:50 am

    Great work, Matt! I just ordered my copy.

  • art and lemons April 22, 2011 at 1:08 am

    A brilliant idea and so generous. The book sounds fabulous—can’t wait to read it!

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 22, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I am so excited to learn from you this summer in Boulder!

  • Elizabeth Q @asianinamericamag April 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    How wonderful & generous of you to share your gifts inorder to give back to the community, especially Japan. I can’t wait to get my hands on your photography book. Hope it is the first of many more that you will produce for the rest of us . Thanks for sharing your “bounty” !

  • Sushmitha April 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Will get this one. Thanks for the idea.

  • katie April 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    i’m beyond moved…i don’t even shoot food, but i’m damned if i’m not buying your book. you RAWK!!!

  • Mari @ Once Upon a Plate April 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Fabulous idea! I’m so happy to support the cause, I’m am heading over to order your book.

  • Alexandra April 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Matt, I just came to your blog via White On Rice Couple.

    While I think this is a wonderful project (and I would love to have the book) I feel completely averse to spending $44 on a book as long as $34 are going to Blurb, and only $10 to Japan aid (also, Blurb doesn’t even allow a proper preview of the book).

    Making a huge “donation” to Blurb in order to make a tiny one to Japan just doesn’t make sense to me.

    However, I would gladly spend around $20 on a pdf of your book, with all of the proceeds going to Japan relief (or of course some to you, for all your generous efforts).

  • Alexandra April 26, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for adding the pdf Version, Matt – I just got mine (the download was as smooth as patĂ©) , and the book looks really beautiful. Cannot wait to dive in!

    Again, thanks for putting in all this work for a good cause & Greetings from Vienna, Austria,

  • Self Sagacity April 28, 2011 at 8:26 am

    That is a great idea, and wonderful of you to be part of it. It is very inspiring to see people reaching out to help.

  • The Italian Dish April 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    What a great idea, Matt! I just hopped over to Blurb and bought a copy.

  • Wendy April 29, 2011 at 4:40 am

    looking forward to it. What a fun thing for you and a great thing for the people struggling in Japan.

  • Heidy May 2, 2011 at 5:16 am

    I received the book last week and absolutely love it. Thanks!

  • susan May 10, 2011 at 6:25 pm


    Just got your book…LOVE IT!!!!! It’s EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for. And thanks for answering my e-mails….you make me feel like a Rock Star!


  • Liz May 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Wow, this is amazing! I moved home from Japan weeks before the earthquake happened to have a baby. I lived in an unaffected area, but living there has given me a true insight into the people and culture. They are the most amazing people and truly need all the help they can get!