Being Self Taught
What being self taught means to me is to not be afraid of trial and error. I believe we can learn a lot even from the mistakes we make. When I first started with food photography, I would shoot more than 50 to 60 images. But as I kept trying, and learning, I reduced the number of shots to around 15, sometimes less, sometimes a little more. In the process, I learned to be more organized before shooting; to focus more on the light sources, and to better time the cooking, the plating and the staging.
All the food in my photos are real. Even the ice cream is real. I found that if I first chilled the plate or bowl just before adding the ice cream , this delayed the melting. And, yes, I eat and drink all the food you see in my images.
Learn By Doing
Again, I repeat, don't be afraid of trial and error. Make mistakes. Sometimes even the mistakes turn out to be great. Learn by doing also means to me to stretch myself, to expose myself to something more. Before I got my camera, I had already read multiple articles that the best way to learn a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera was to shoot in manual, or aperture priority or some other setting--and not just in automatic. On the immediate arrival of my DSLR camera, after charging the battery, I switched to the manual mode. This forced me to learn other settings such as shutter speed, F-stops, ISO, etc.
Reading Articles on Photography
This probably seems obvious. But self-taught learners do this automatically. I don't just read about food photography but photography in general. I should note here too that other sources I use are lots of videos on YouTube and web sites of professional photographers. So many of them are very generous to share their knowledge and experiences. As one professional put it, you could use the same equipment he uses with the same settings he uses but you would still come out with a different picture. Your perspective would produce a different image.
Looking At the Works Of Professional Photographers
This is always fun to do not only for learning but also for the sheer pleasure of looking at beautiful images. Once I get past awe, I try to guess how the image was taken, how light plays on the hero. I note such things as composition, the placement of objects, the colors, the shadows and more. If I really love a particular image, I ask myself why. And I do the same for images that do now appeal to me.
Participating In Photography Communities
Fortunately for me, I found a food photography community on Google Plus. I love it because amateurs and professionals frequent the site to share their work, discuss photography and equipment, and critique an image when asked. There are lots of other communities or photography forum sites, The key is to find one that best match you goals.
Learning My Camera
This is listed last; yet, it is the most important. As I already stated, when I got my DSLR camera, I immediately started shooting in manual mode which forced me to learn much much more. It doesn't matter if you have an inexpensive or a very expensive camera. What's important is knowing how to use it and all the wonderful things it can do. Even later model androids and iphones are including many features found in a DSLR and can take really good photos.
Well, that's how this novice is learning food photography. How about you?