4 Phases of Recipe Video Production

4 Phases of Recipe Video Production | A helpful article by CheersYears.com about the 4 phases of recipe video production and her process #recipevideos #foodvideography

This week I shot my 3rd & 4th recipe videos using the same method that’s produced the most professional video quality (despite my lack of the professional equipment). My tripod set-up is absolutely crazy since I’m working with what I have right now. It’s a light-weight traveling tripod that has NO ability to extend the camera out or hold a lot of weight. So, I had to get a little creative….

The 4 phases of recipe video production- the Cheers Years recipe video set-up

I’m currently using 2 bags of foods (1 is a smoothie protein supplement & the other is a bag of chia seeds (appropriate for a healthy food blogger, right?) to weight down the back-end of the tripod. I’m also leaning the tripod forward with the help of a yoga block with reinforced arm weights and a bag of flour for extra support. Due to this extravagant (and slightly ridiculous) set-up, the first step of set build takes a little longer for me than I feel like it would if I had a tripod that had an extending arm. So keep this in mind while I’m sharing my 4 phases and the length each of them take.

I believe these 4 phases of recipe video shoots remain the same across the board of beginner to advanced pro. What I’m hoping is that I will become more efficient overtime at each of these phases won’t take quite as long as they do now.

I’m sharing my four phases of recipe video production with you today so that if you’re getting into recipe video shoots, you can plan your time accordingly. Also, you’ll know what to expect and be aware that it does take time outside of just the recipe shoot itself. There’s a few things that are sneaky time suckers (like cleanup between shots & breakdown afterwards!).

Some of the steps in these phases might seem obvious and others might be a surprise, depending on where you are in your food blogging and recipe video journey.

These four phases were taken note of after a year of food photography and now video shoots. So even though I’m still rather new at recipe videos, this process remains the same for photo shoots as well (minus the tripod if you prefer to free hand).

My first note and tip of advice would be pre-planning the shots you want, the colors/mood your going for, and the overall purpose/goal of the video. This should be completed PRIOR to diving into the video shoot. I wouldn’t recommend planning this as you go. The shoot will go much smoother if you’ve already made a plan and a list of what you need.

The 4 phases of recipe video shoot production:

1.) Set build.

Building the set is, of course, a crucial step and not one to be rushed through. If you slop through building the set build, the rest of the shoot will not go smoothly. Your video may reflect that, and you might even end up taking more time during the important part of actually shooting to adjust things like the backdrop or tripod.

  • Collect items like camera, memory card, and batteries (it's especially important to make sure you have a backup charged when doing video).
  • Collect and assemble (or have ready) backdrops, tripod, and reflective light bounces.
    • This takes a good 10-15 minutes, depending on where you store your items and how comfortable you are with setting up your backdrop & tripod.
    • This is also the time when you want to gather extra plates, serving utensils, textured items like a napkin or height addition (like my round wood block in the photo below).
This Carolina Kale Salad Recipe is the perfect make-ahead salad for lunches all week. Made with all local ingredients and stored in mason jars! #kalesalad #kalesaladrecipe #masonjarsalad #mealprep
  • Not essential, but preferable (for me): I always have music playing during my shoots on either a Bluetooth speaker or my home sound system. It helps me to relax, move, and get creative during the shoots. Some of my favorite playlists include: chill, global dance, ambient beats, and alternative hits. I try to match my playlist with whatever mood I’m going for in my photos or video. I try to come full-circle with my photo & video production, even down to the music! :)

2.) Ingredient prep.

Making sure all of your ingredients are washed and/or pre-measured for each step of the recipe video is essential for your shoot to run smoothly. You don’t want to start/stop your flow to gather ingredients each time. You don’t need to show your ingredients being measured, unless you’re showing us a new method or it’s a key step you want to highlight.

  • I like to have all my ingredients ready to go either on a tray beside my video shoot station or prepped in the fridge (for temperature-sensitive items).
  • I also keep 2 dishcloths nearby on a pate: 1 damp & 1 dry.
    • Spills during a shoot are very common between mixing ingredients together. I like to go ahead and have a few cloths handy so I can immediately wipe up, dry, and move on with the shoot instead of stopping the process to run to the kitchen for cleanup cloths.

NOTE: This is also a good time to look over your recipe to be recorded and ensure that you have everything on your checklist nearby, ready to go.

3.) The recipe video shoot.

You’ve planned, you’ve prepped, and now you’re ready to actually film the recipe. This is when I get in the zone and start reenacting the preparation my recipe in the most helpful and artistic way.

  • As you go, reference your notes on what steps are important to highlight about what makes the recipe unique.

Are you showcasing…

  1. How easy a recipe is to make?

(Wow these 5 ingredient flourless peanut butter cookies only take minutes to make!)

  1. How insanely decadent?

(Pimento mac & cheese tacos, what?!)

  1. How innovative?

(I had no idea you could microwave a brownie in a mug like that!)

  1. How creative/entertaining?

(Look at this rainbow unicorn banana pudding being made into cat-shaped ice cream balls!)

  • Whatever category your recipe falls under, highlight the steps that matter, and don’t worry about shooting Every. Single. Step.
    • In the beginning of my food photography, I wasted a LOT of time showing measurements being made or ingredients mixed when it really wasn’t an important part of the recipe. It took up a lot of my memory card’s storage and it was a pain to edit. Finally, I realized, why am I shooting every single step? I was adding the photos into my posts and found that they really didn’t add extra value for the reader.
    • Bottom line: skip filming the steps that readers already know how to do or are understood. For the most part, you can skip steps like measuring or taking something in/out of the oven.

DO photograph or video the most important parts of the recipe including the final shots of the completed recipe.

CY Tip! >> I get the most positive feedback or reactions of my recipes when I take a bite out of the dish or a VERY close up final shot. This could look like a bite taken out of a cookie or spoonful of your gooey brownie. This way, it’s like the reader or viewer is taking a bite or close-up look of your dish right there with you. It shows movement, playfulness, and makes us say “Mmm!”.

4.) Breakdown.

I have to admit, this is my least favorite phase of photo & video production. It’s kind of like coming home from a camping vacation. You had a blast, but now you’re tired and have the obligation of cleaning up all your gear. I keep the music cranking and make sure if it wasn’t on an upbeat, motivating playlist before, it is now.

The breakdown includes…

  • Enjoying a portion of your recipe, or storing for later.
    • First things first, either enjoy the fruit of your labor or store it for later.
    • Turn off your camera and carefully put it away. You want to be sure it’s safely stored while you’re breaking down the set so you won’t bump into it.
      • (At this point I go ahead and pop out the batteries to be charged and the memory card.)
      • Take all your dishes, utensils, measuring cups/spoons, and any other kitchen gadget used to make your recipe to the kitchen sink or dishwasher.
      • Wipe down your props used if they have any recipe residue on them and put away.
      • Wipe off your backdrop and the surface it sat on and put away.
      • Breakdown your tripod and store it.
      • Arrange any furniture or décor you had to move out of the way back to it’s original location.

My final advice

When you’re first starting out with recipe videos, I would advise carving out at least 3-4 hours of production time from start to finish. It sounds like a lot, but that’s because it is a lot! There’s so much MORE to the process of a recipe video (or photo!) shoot than just making the recipe and filming it along the way. It might sound like I’m complicating the process, but my hope is that you’ll see this as an easy way of breaking down each phase of the process.

I tried to “just make the recipe and take photos/videos” in the beginning of my food blogging career, and I wasn’t happy with my results. They didn’t look as professional or inviting as the recipe videos you see on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. If you go through each of these phases by planning and executing properly, you’ll produce amazing recipe videos, and be organized in your process.

Breaking down the steps of a recipe video production helps me see where my time is going and I feel better about my time spent working on it. Prior to understanding these phases, I would ask myself, “why does it take SO LONG for me to just video a recipe?” and “shouldn’t I be able to knock this out in a few hours?”. Well, after identifying ALL the aspects and phases of recipe video production, I started understanding. It allowed me to give myself a little more grace about the amount of time I was funneling into my projects.

If you’d like to see some examples of my favorite recipe videos and photo from this process, check out–

Carolina Kale Salad (video)

The BEST Gluten-Free Banana Bread (video)

Bikini-approved Frozen Chocolate-Covered Banana Bites (photos)

Grapefruit Ginger-Mint Mimosa (photos)

Keep up with my video recipe production process and see my latest videos, by subscribing to my new YouTube channel HERE! :) 

Have you mastered your recipe process? If so, let me know what’s working for you! (I’m always looking to continuously improve my process.)

If you’re struggling to streamline your photo or video process, tell me what’s your biggest hang-up right now?  Comment below and let me know! I want to provide feedback and share experiences!