Philip Lemoine (@philip_lemoine) is a photographer and filmmaker living in Hawaii. He primarily shot weddings but when the pandemic hit he made a pivot to creating cooking vlogs that are gaining popularity. Not only does he make YouTube videos on how to cook, he also shows a lot of behind-the-scenes on how he makes those videos. We connected with Lemoine to get his advice for creating your own compelling cooking vlogs. Read his tips below, learn more about his work in his Alpha Profile Spotlight and see the gear he uses for cooking videos in his What’s In My Bag article.
Cooking vlogger Philip Lemoine shares his five tips for creating better cooking videos.
1. Eat First & Don’t Rush
Lemoine’s first major tip when it comes to cooking and creating is to never do it on an empty stomach. “One of the worst things you can do when filming food content (or anything really) is to do it when you're hungry,” explains Lemoine. “I notice that wherever I'm filming and I'm hungry, I tend to rush some of my shots because I just want to eat the food already. I also get pretty hangry and when things are not going as planned (they NEVER DO), I'll get frustrated trying to juggle cooking and filming. This could also lead me to messing up the recipe, missing some steps, or getting lazy with my filming. Especially at the end when it comes time to shooting the plating part or styling the dish to take a photo.”
“The YouTube thumbnail photos for recipe videos are honestly more important than the actual video and this is something you do NOT want to rush. Make sure you eat something before you start or snack while filming so that you don't rush this important step in the production process. Oftentimes the recipe or dish that you are filming might also be dinner for you and the family. If possible, I would recommend filming the dish much earlier in the day so that you have time to get all your shots and your family isn't rushing you to wrap up video production so they can eat. If you can't start earlier because of work or something, I recommend making extra food so that you can plate and style a shot of the dish the next day.”
2. Light It Right
Lemoine says that proper lighting is key for making your videos look like a professional production that people will want to watch. “You can have the most expensive cameras and lenses in the world,” says Lemoine, “but if you have terrible lighting it's not going to matter. Natural sunlight from a window is the best and free option. If you're going to use natural light from the windows, just make sure you turn off your kitchen lights because most house lights have a yellow glow to them.
“If you don't have windows in your kitchen, I'd recommend investing in a light kit. There are a bunch of affordable options on Amazon starting as low as $50. I love the ones that have a big softbox on them. One tip I'd share would be to buy all new light bulbs for your kitchen and light kit so that they all glow the same color. Typically on a box of light bulbs it says their Kelvin Color Temperature. 3200K is more yellow and 5600K is more white/blue. All the lights I have in my kitchen and light kit are set to 5000K.”
“Another great thing about investing in a light kit,” explains Lemoine, “is that you have full control over your lighting. You won't have to wait for a sunny day to film or deal with the sun popping in and out of the clouds and messing up your shot and exposure. You can film at night and still have great looking videos! The light kit also works great for food photography.”
3. Know When To Go To Manual Focus
While Lemoine does utilize autofocus while filming, he also notes how important it is to get comfortable using manual focus for most aspects of filming cooking videos. “I personally only use autofocus when I'm filming talking parts of the recipe videos. The Sony Alpha 6400 and ZV-1 have amazing face-tracking AF features that I LOVE. But whenever I'm filming my preparation or cooking parts, I switch over to the manual focus.”
“Often there are things like steam or even my own hands that will get in front of the food and cause the focus to shift from the cooking to the mixing spoon or something. By switching to manual focus I can control the camera to capture exactly what I want it to and not have to worry about the AF hunting around the framed shot. One thing I love about my Sony Cameras is that I have the ability to zoom in on my image while recording to check and see if my food is in focus.”
4. Always Prep First
A good tip for creating cooking videos, or really just for cooking in general, is to have everything prepared in advance. “One major tip I would recommend to all cooking content creators would be to prep all of your food before you begin filming,” says Lemoine. “When I say prep, I mean wash and cut all of your ingredients or measure out all of your dry stuff or liquids and put them into their own individual dishes. This helps a lot with cooking in general because you're not scrambling to measure out or chop something while trying to cook something else and film it all at the same time.”
“I like to break up entire recipes into smaller tasks and film them individually as I prep them. For example, if I need to make a gravy for my meatloaf dish, I’ll focus and film just the gravy first so that it is prepped and ready to go for the meatloaf when it's time to shoot that after instead of trying to do both at the same time. I know the gravy can hold for a while so I can take my time shooting that and let it hang out on the stove while taking a small break to clean the kitchen a bit and reset for the meatloaf. Now I technically have two videos I could upload that support each other, and when I share my meatloaf recipe I could tell the viewers, ‘this goes great with my brown gravy recipe, check that video out next!’”
5. Change Your Angles
We’ve learned how you can step up your vlogs with multiple angles from YouTuber Miguel Quiles, and Lemoine shares the same advice. “One of the easiest ways to make your food videos more interesting and dynamic is to switch up your angles while you're filming. A common misconception about cooking videos is that people think they need to film every single second of the process. Because of this, people will normally just record one long video of them cooking from one angle. This might be great if you're doing live cooking, but if you're planning to edit this footage down to a short video, you really only need to capture 10-20 seconds of each of the major steps in the recipe. Knowing this will allow you to get creative with your filming.”
“I love shooting with the Sony Alpha Cameras because they are so small, light and easy to move around the kitchen. Instead of shooting five minutes of me peeling a bunch of carrots from one angle, I'll literally just capture three or four peels from one angle, then change my camera's position and location to capture a few more peels of another carrot to create a two-shot sequence of the process. Not only do I save a ton of space on my memory cards, but it makes editing a lot more efficient as well because I’m not sifting through five-minute clips trying to locate the five seconds of footage I actually plan to use in the video. This also makes for a much more engaging video and helps keep your viewers’ attention and interest when watching. You can get as creative as you want with this step and move your camera as many times as you'd like or even experiment with different camera angles.”
See more of Lemoine's work on his YouTube Channel.