Have you ever wondered what it's like on the set of a cookbook photo shoot? I had no idea before this past March, when I spent 10 days with my mother in Oakland for the Bread Toast Crumbs shoot. I wrote about the whole process — finding a photographer, creating the mood board and shot list, and the day-to-day events at the studio in Emeryville. // alexandracooks.com

Every so often I get an email regarding photography and what sort of gear I use to take and edit my photos. I hope this page might offer some guidance:

My Gear:

• My camera: Currently I use a Canon 5D Mark III

• I mostly use this lens: Canon 24-70 mm standard zoom lens

• I love this Canon 50mm Lens (mostly for portraits or outdoor shots like this one)

• Once upon a time, I use a macro lens: Tamron AF 90mm Macro Lens for Canon Digital Cameras (a generous hand-me-down from my father-in-law; for capturing extreme detail like the caviar of a vanilla bean, this is a good one to have; but, unless you have an extremely steady hand/don’t drink half a pot of coffee a day, you have to use a tripod or the image will be blurry.)

• Once upon a time, I used a flash: Canon 430EX Speedlite Flash. Warning: this thing eats batteries about as quickly as you replace them. I recommend not storing your batteries in the flash itself, but inserting them as you need them. Also, I generally just recommend avoid using a flash if possible.

• I love my tripod for shooting overhead video and for Instagram stories.

• This is the phone attachment for my tripod. I use this for Instagram stories.

At one point, this was my workspace: a wooden pallet next to a window that gets a ton of light but no direct light. Update: I use the same north-facing windows, but I mostly use my kitchen countertops now. 

My process:

• natural light only

• I set up my food on a countertop or table next to a window that gets the most sunlight without any direct sunlight — a north-facing window is ideal.

• I generally shoot between 10am and 3pm depending on the time of year and also the type of day. When I lived in Virginia, I had these great shades from IKEA that were very sheer, and I could pull them down all the way, and they would diffuse the light so nicely — this might be a nice option for those of you who only have windows that let in direct sunlight.

• I find wood backgrounds to be particularly nice. White, as much as I love it for serving food on, is difficult for me to photograph on.

• I use minimal props.

• I edit in Adobe Photoshop, too, but mostly simple things: minor adjustments to increase contrast, and sharpening.

• Sometimes I balance a big piece of white foam core on the side of my board opposite the window, which helps bounce light onto spaces that might be shadowy.

• That’s about it — I update this page as things come to me.