Book Reviews

Plate to Pixel

Marla Meridith reviews the book Plate to Pixel

By now most of you have heard of (and probably own) a copy of Plate to Pixel. If not then you must. I need to take a moment to define this masterpiece. This book is a visual journey with lessons in digital food photography and styling. It is written by one of the most talented people this world has ever known, Helene Dujardin aka Tartelette. She has become a household name to any food blogger, cookbook author and food connoiseurs everywhere. Honestly my 7 year old daughter could tell you who she is, no joke. That is how famous she is around these parts.

I will walk you through this post with a journey through my own food photography and styling. Beware and be nice, this first collage is from the very beginning. We all need to start somewhere right?

Marla Meridith early food photographyOK, stop giggling I heard that. Note how there is not much “styling” the photo quality is poor and the lighting is not very good either. The good thing is there was plenty of room for growth! Now each time I create or see a photograph it is instinct for me to critique the image to figure out what works and what I would change.

Thankfully things are getting a lot better as I learn more and more. Each day offers unique challenges and I welcome them. My camera is always glued to my side.

Healthy homemade baked crisp with cranberries and cherries.

I have been photographing food for two years now and a lot has evolved. Which is good for all of us. When I do things I need to shoot for the stars. That has become my goal with my food styling, recipe development and photography. With a type A personality half measures are never OK.

Gluten Free ratio rally mini cakes with strawberries and coconut milk

I want to share a brief history of my friendship with beautiful Helene. Not only can this gal create a gorgeous plate of food but she is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. The first time I met saw (or heard of Helen) was back at the first BlogHer Food in San Francisco back in 2009.

Hot Dogs on a stick recipe for summer Grill BBQ party

I was a newbie to the world of food blogging and my blog was very green. I had not a clue what I was getting myself into. I just knew I LOVED the world of food blogging.

Grilled Ile De France Camembert cheese

Helene was one of the first inspirations to take me away from shooting food photography with my iPhone. Our second meeting was last March she taught a workshop in LA, and then I attended Food and Light workshop in Boulder.

Healthy Avocado scones for tea parties, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day

She teaches with grace, proficiency and honesty. Helene will have many more workshops coming up including the one I will thankfully be attending at evo’11 next week.

Healthy, low carb, diet Chocolate Chip Scones by Marla Meridith

The thing I love most about Plate to Pixel is that it demystifies the often complicated task of learning how to use today’s digital SLR cameras. I have the attention span of a house fly so anything “how-to” often does not keep my interest for more than 33 seconds.

This book filled with tons of Helen’s photos that will make you swoon. The lessons capture her voice and playful personality in a way that manuals and tutorials often do not. For the small price of this book you will learn a college education’s worth of photography skills.

Vegan vegetarian summer squash with grilled marinated tofu

These days photography for me has gone way beyond food. It has opened up my world, given me ways to communicate with the world through pretty pictures. It has allowed to to express my creativity in ways that I never thought possible. I am passionate about capturing the beauty of landscapes and my most prized subjects….my children.

Pre school boy in orange gingham checked shirt

When I travel it is wonderful to be able to share the visual treats I experience with all of you….

Marla Meridith Travel Photography

I am never without my Plate to Pixel book. It is a book I will read & re-read. When not taking photos you can find me on the treadmill or the bike at the gym with this gem wide open while my body gets exercise my mind does too.

I want to share this wonderful photographic journey and life experience with you. What better way than for me to host a giveaway for a copy of Plate to Pixel.

If you cannot wait then you can also order one from my Amazon store.

Graphic with pink fleur de lis for

Food photography and styling book by TarteletteGiveaway Details

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for your entries. Congrats to Clea from Clea Shannon.

I will provide one reader with a copy of their very own Plate to Pixel book. This giveaway is open to USA visitors and will be open until Sunday, July 3rd at 12 midnight PST.

The winner will be chosen at and will be notified via email, so please make sure your email address is correct. You will have 48 hours to respond to me, or a new winner will be chosen.

How to Enter

Tell me your greatest photography inspiration or why you want this book. To earn additional entries, leave a separate comment for each of the steps listed below. If you don’t leave separate comments for each step, the number generator will not count them as separate entries.

  1. Re-tweet this giveaway, being sure to include my Twitter handle (@MarlaMeridith). Here’s a sample tweet you could use: Plate to Pixel by @SweetTartelette Stop by to enter the giveaway @MarlaMeridith for this amazing book. Pls RT
  2. Follow @MarlaMeridith on Twitter
  3. Follow @SweetTartelette on Twitter
  4. Copy and paste my badge into your sidebar or somewhere on your blog
  5. Stumble this post
  6. Subscribe to via RSS or e-mail

*You can stay in touch with and Helene Dujardin Photography on Facebook too

Links to the Recipes Above disclosure: I am a huge fan of Helen Dujardin. She is a friend and colleague. The publisher provided me with a review copy and will send the winner a copy of Plate to Pixel.

~ Marla Meridith

Join the Conversation

214 thoughts on “Plate to Pixel

  1. To tell you the truth, the way you and all of the other top food bloggers photograph your food is truly and inspiration to me. I’m just in awe of the beautiful photographs. Someday I hope to take as amazing photos as y’all. 🙂 Thank you for the giveaway!

  2. I always love your photos. They’re always so inspiring, as are the photos at Tartelette of course. I’m looking to purchase her book soon. I still have a long ways to come, and need to obtain a lot more props (!), but it’s always crazy for me to look back at my first few food photos. Yikes! With each food photo shoot I do, I find myself progressing, and I’m sure you feel the same way. What kind of camera do you shoot with?

    1. Grace, about a month ago I got the Canon 7D. Prior to that it was the 10D. Amazing and very well needed upgrade! I am with you, each and everyday I feel and see my own growth. Your prop collection will grow over time. These days I have outgrown all of my cabinets & storage space. Everything is tucked away very precariously, tough to find the ones I need sometimes. It is funny those first photos, sometimes I want to take them down. It is way more fun to leave them though.

    1. Rosa, so are yours! By the way, you get the award for actually adding the accent marks to Helene’s name! I cannot seem to locate them on my keyboard…..

  3. Your evolution is quite impressive my dear… at first I thought you were showing pictures from Helenes book! I would love to win one cause I am a fan or both of yours. 😉 Blessings!

  4. My greatest inspiration right now is my 16 year old daughter. She is just gorgeous, regal really. I would love to be able to really capture that on my camera. Your photography is inspiring. You have learned so much and do a great job. This book would be a welcome addition to my blog world.

    1. That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read! I feel the same way when I look at my kids. Thankfully these days I am able to catch things as I see them. Not always, but most of the time. Grab as many images of your daughter as you can. It will be so worth it to be able to look back on them as time goes on. Believe it or not some of my favorite photos of my kids have been quick ones I take with my phone & post on Instagram. There is something about an unplanned, spontaneous shot that is priceless.

  5. Marla, it is truly amazing to see how far you have come in such a short time. Your works is really lovely. I love Helene too!

  6. My greatest photography inspiration is other people’s delight whether it be on their face in a photo, on their face when looking at or receiving a photo or their pride in me for investing in and learning about the photography world. Sharing my photos with others is my greatest inspiration to take them!

    1. Vallerie, that is beautiful! Isn’t it amazing how touching it is to see other peoples reactions to photography. That is what it is all about. Finding that spark and igniting the passion. Keep sharing those photos and putting smiles on faces.

  7. I’m inspired by the photos on several great food blogs including yours, Pioneer Woman and Bakerella. I’m struggling to improve my skills in photography.

  8. I would love this book, unfortunately I live north of the border. However, I do live south of Minnesota. Hmm. I will just admire from a distance.

  9. My biggest photography inspiration is other food bloggers. I still have quite a bit to learn about how to take good food pictures, so this book would be very helpful!

    1. Thanks Sarah! And it is readers like you who inspire me to do my best. I love setting up the stage for food photos. It amazes me each time how a different mood can be staged with the subject, colors, lighting etc. It has taken gobs of practice to get where I am now, but with dedication I believe anything at all is possible! Keep going in your pursuits… will get that image and find that dream 🙂

  10. I’m constantly working on my photography. This book sounds like a great addition to my collection. I would love to better photograph the wide variety of food my son eats and him eating it!

  11. I am a photographer…but only of people. I love food and reading foodie blogs and am always captivated by the images many food bloggers post and I absolutely want to learn a bit more about this “commercial” type of photography 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win the book, it looks great!!

    1. Dana, your images are beautiful! It is amazing how food comes alive we we photograph it. I actually play music when I shoot to boost the inspiration & get the food to behave nicely 😉 You will learn so much with this book about the non-human subjects.

      1. Thx for checking them out, Marla 🙂 I am just back online after the weekend away…did you post a winner? If so, I will have to order the book 🙂 Thx for sharing!!

    1. Hey Amy……go easy on yourself, OK? Answer me this….Are you having fun as a food blogger? I bet the answer is a big yes! That counts for a lot girl. I see large amounts of passion on your blog and you do a great job over there. Keep up with the food photography & it is destined to improve with time. We are all improving with time & that is a great thing!

  12. Love your pics and your food styling – it’s a journey – everyday something new to learn – which is why I love what we do!

    1. Lucy, I love our daily journey of self discovery & enlightenment. Gosh, I feel blessed. Can’t wait to see the photos & everything in your book. Very exciting times girl!

  13. Great minds think alike… I too have my Plate to Pixel giveaway going on right now. Love how you took us through the evolvement of your food photography and styling, you’ve obviously have learned a thing or two. 😉 xo

    1. Lauren, though hands on workshops are ideal this book is great too. I learn best with a combo of both. P to P really drives it all home & keeps the learning all in one place. I refer to it while taking photos all the time. A teacher alway at the ready.

  14. So much fun to see how your photography has evolved Marla – it is very reassuring that not everyone who has gorgeous, professional quality photos on their blogs started out that way!!!
    Helene is indeed an inspiration – her blog was one of the first ones I read and her photography is breathtaking!!

  15. I could definitely use this book. I purchased a DSLR last Christmas for myself and I need something that will help me work with it more. We all have to start somewhere!

  16. I ordered mine on Amazon last week and it came and I have been *loving* it! So much. I am actually getting ready to post my review of it.

    So you are going to Evo. Awesome! If i wasnt going to Mexico, I’d be there.

    Why do all the good trips have to overlap?! Todd & Diane, Helene, etc all there….but Mexico wont be too shabby either.

    And your photography has, is, and continues to shoot for the stars as you wrote and the results are breath-taking!

    1. Averie, isn’t it the BEST?! Amazing how much you can learn from one book when it is a subject you LOVE so much. I know, these days there are so many great events all the time. You will have a blast and learn bunches with Penny de la Santos though in Mexico! xo

  17. Wow- what a great opportunity. I hope my pictures capture the essence of the moment, so that someone who looks at them is instantly transported to that moment of time. and i would absolutely love to get a chance to have “from plate to pixel” so i can read up on how to improve my food photography skills!!

  18. I would love to be able to take photos half as gorgeous as yours or Helene’s ~ I think this book would help get me on the right track!

  19. Marla, all your photos are stunning. I don’t think someone could say Helene’s photos are anything perfect. I wish mine were at least half as beautiful as yours.

    The book is the best photography manual so far. So happy I got my own copy, can’t wait to finish reading it and putting my knowledge to practice 🙂

  20. I’ve been glued to a camera for as long as I can remember, but am still trying to figure out how to make food look as beautiful as you and Helene do. I need that book! Thanks for hosting such a great giveaway!

  21. I’d like the book because I am a photographer trying to start a biz and food is so central to my life (trying to survive being gluten-free, dairy-free, and more since my son is almond free, soy-free & eggs-free, too) that I need to improve my food photography so I can blog more about food on my photography blog (to stretch me beyond my comfort zone, portraits of people!)

  22. Marla,
    Your photography has been so inspiring to me. I have been working on my food photography and it has become quite an obsession, in between shuffling the kids around! I would love to see Helene’s food photography book as I have so much more to learn!

  23. I feel like I’ve certainly come a long way in my food photography but I know I have still so much to learn. I’d love to have this book to really use my camera more effectively along with lighting and food styling. Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

  24. I’ve loved food photography since a long time ago, but I think the first one I stumbled upon and loved was Steamy Kitchen. In fact, her xiao long bao is my screensaver. 🙂

    I can totally tell you’re type A by the perfect design and pictures on your blog. I wish I had half your talent!

  25. I’d love this book. I need all the help I can get with my camera. Thanks for the giveaway. Be Blessed!!!

  26. The joy of capturing a delicious meal with my camera and actually doing the food and the moment justice, allowing for a bit of energy, spontaneity and surprise or the hint of the story behind the food and the photos – these are the reasons that I would love to own this book. Thank you!

  27. I love this post, Marla. You are awesome for sharing some of your earliest pics with us…and I have to say, they look amazing compared to my earliest pics, lol! You’re right though, that gives us lots of room for improvement. 😉 And I have to say, your photography skills shine through in your pics, which are gorgeous and always beautifully styled!

  28. I shall definitely be ordering a copy, what a great sounding book and she has obviously been a real inspiration to you, and you create beautiful photographs. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  29. My sister is my inspiration. She’s an amateur…taught by her husband…and she just captures the most beautiful moments.

    This is a great giveaway!

    1. Clair, that is so cool that your sis is such a great inspiration. It is fun to have such talented people close by and at the ready to teach us new skills.

  30. Were you reading my mind? I have wanted a copy of this book ever since it came out. And of course, you know what a HUGE fan I am of your blog and your photography. Amazing 🙂 I tweeted your giveaway!

    1. Thanks Liz! Your great energy, knowledge, personality & commitment to great health are a great inspiration to me too. Remember….I want to shoot your next book 😉

  31. My greatest photography inspiration/encouragement is my husband. He takes great pictures, knows a lot about many types of DSLR cameras, is my constant photoshop tutor, and most importantly … tells me to keep trying when I get frustrated with my photos. 🙂 He’s a keeper.

    1. Lindsey, you are so very lucky to have such a great support. It is amazing when our significant others can teach us such awesome skills. My husband is a tech guru so he handles all the admin & tech stuff on my blog. Would be nowhere without his skills 😉

  32. And I am know following the author (thought I was already! :-/ ?) @sweettartelette! Thanks again for this give away. I loved seeing the progression of your photography skills. Hope for me!

  33. Hi, Marla!
    You’ve been on my blog roll since day one. 🙂 Loved your photo journey and keep up the good work! Your recipes and photos inspire me!
    ~ Kim

  34. Just subscribed and don’t know why I didn’t before now! As for why this book would mean so much to me, I love food, I love the challenge of portraying food in an artistic way, and I don’t have a clue how to utilize my digital camera to it’s fullest! 🙂
    ~ Kim

  35. I can’t enter because I’m Canadian, but good luck to the others! This sounds like a wonderful book. Your photos look so great.

  36. I get inspiration from the various shapes of food and then being able to work in low light situations, the challenge keeps me going. The book would be an added inspiration for my photography skills can always use some help.

    Bon appetit!

  37. Marla, reading that post totally inspires me to want to be a better photographer. It is really hard! I have been doing the food photography for a year, so I guess it is time to step it up!

  38. Having this book would be really helpful towards me. I was in Afghanistan through the holidays last year (only a lovely deployment the Marine Corps decided to send me on) and I spent my days reading food blogs from start to finish – like biographies into people’s lives. I fell in love. Cooking and baking is my passion – it brightens my day. I knew I wanted to write a food blog myself… so I came back to the states and started. I enjoyed it, throroughly… but the only thing I didn’t enjoy? Taking the pictures. They were really horrible. I think if you have horrible pictures, no one wants to check out your blog – so I never had a good outcome on readers. I ended my blog at the beginning, but each time I want to do it again, but then I’m reminded of my photography skills. I would really love to learn to take photos correctly, and allowing other people to enjoy my photography (hopefully I can become as good as you!)

    1. Samantha – you rockstar you! First of all you served in Afghanistan, secondly you helped yourself get through a tough time reading food blogs. LOVE that! With practice & awareness of photography essentials you will get there. You are wanting, deserving and open to great things. By the way, thank you bunches for serving out country 🙂 xo

  39. I loved seeing your photography journey – you really do take beautiful photos, my friend. I already own a copy of Helene’s book, so count me out for the giveaway. However, I wanted to re-iterate what you said – this book is so helpful. There are plenty of photo examples, along with clear instructions. Not only that, but Helene is a very down-to-earth, kind person.

    1. Hi Dara, thanks for your sweet words. I respect you immensely & you too take beautiful photos. Not to mention you do AMAZING recipe development. Heck, you make a great grill buddy too. Can’t wait to see both you and Helene next week at evo 🙂 xo

  40. I would absolutely love this book. I so want to learn how to take great pictures like you and Helene. You both add so much depth to the photos, while mine just seem to lay flat.

  41. I would love to have this book as I have been reading Helene’s blog for years. I admire her sense of style and would appreciate some pointers to help me develop my own.

    1. Oh yes, the cost of the book is worth thousands of dollars of classes. And you will learn way more from a $20 book. Guaranteed.

  42. A great review and giveaway! I love Helene’s work and yours as well. The photos conveys a beautiful story. I almost met Helene, but could attend FoodBlogForum Orlando at the very last minute. Better luck next time for me 😀

    ps: I am already following you on Twitter 🙂

    1. Kiran, sounds like Helene has many wonderful workshops on the horizon. I bet you will be able to meet her soon. I would love to meet you too!

  43. I never cared too much about photography until 2 months ago when I started blogging. Then I learned about sites like foodgawker, and blogs like yours and others – and the competitive side came out, and I want to be able to do that too. I have a lot to learn, but have also come a long way. Can’t imagine where I will be a year from now!

    1. Erin so much happens in a year. Really I can vouch for that! What do you mean “competitive side?” I know nothing of that?! LOL
      This type A gal loves competition. Anything healthy compete stuff that brings me & other folks to higher levels of living is FUN!! Let’s both dream of where we will be next year 🙂

  44. Oh man, I have been taking photos of food for years. I’ve noticed a lot of progression from making changes on my own, but as soon as I heard about this book I was hoping I could get it. Food is my favorite (photography) subject, and I’ve been looking forward to learning more!

  45. I so like that book. I am in love with food photography and getting this book will mean so much learning and growth!

    I know I can’t join this because I’m not form the US.. just commenting. I love love love your food photos too! Do you have a book yet?

    1. Hi Peachkins, I do not have a book yet. You guys will know as soon as one is in the pipeline. I suspect in the next year or so, we’ll see 🙂

  46. I bounce between food blogs every morning and it’s so very interesting to see different people’s styles of displaying their food creations. I never really thought about how food could be art until I was introduced to the food-blogger world.
    I’d love to be a part of it and contribute, but I haven’t the slightest iddea where to start. This book seems inspiring for novices and experts alike.

    1. Alyssa, before I started my blog I appreciated the beauty of a food photo but certainly did not study and critique it the way I do now. It is amazing how artful each aspect is. Now I am addicted. Yes, Plate to Pixel is a great read for any level of photographer. Besides, the photos are gorgeous!

  47. I try to take most of my inspiration from magazines like the photos from that are recipe reprints from mags, martha, betty crocker and southern living. I check foodgawker, tastespotting, and my fav blogs like yours too.

  48. I’d love to win this book to help learn to take better pictures of food in my little kitchen that has minimal natural light. I’d like to learn more about how to work with the tools that I have to make dishes really POP in the photos!

  49. I was just checking this book out on Amazon a little while ago. Definitely a book I need. Just getting into food blogging and need help and advice with the pictures. By the way, any other books you fellow bloggers would recommend? I have been looking at “Will Write for Food” on Amazon too. Any suggestions?

    1. Susie, “Will Write for Food” is a great choice. I collect many cookbooks and magazines that inspire me. I am also always checking out other peoples blogs for the latest recipes and photos. Foodgawker and Tastespotting will also help you learn how to compose a great shot. Just keep your eyes peeled yo everything around you 🙂

  50. I want this book so badly as I know I need some food photography help! I want to go from “oh that’s nice” to full on food 3x. Hah!

  51. I love capturing every day moments with my family, they are my inspiration. I also really want to learn more about food photography, and this book seems AMAZING!

  52. I had a great Photography mentor at a young age. She would take me to all sorts or places like the zoo, botanical gardens, the beach, you name it! I feel in love with it. Up until Lauren and I started, I hadn’t kept up with the photography, so now getting back into it, there is SO much to learn, re-learn and master! This book would be so helpful! Thanks for the giveaway!

  53. I love Tartlettt and would love to have her book. I need all the help I can get and who better to teach me? Besides you of course. Your pictures rock too. 🙂

  54. I am inspired by beautiful food and photos and Helene’s are certainly among those that I find most inspiring. I would love to have her book and learn more about what inspires her and how she translates that to her photos.