Behind the Scenes

 visual creations & the stories behind them


Digital Imaging Portfolio – Comm 316

My Comm 316 Portfolio Journey

Over the last 4 months, I have had the incredible opportunity to dive deeper into photography and explore several different styles through a digital imaging course. I have studied landscape photography, external lighting, food photography, product photography, cinemagraphs, and more!  I love all the ways to create and capture stories with a camera in hand and have appreciated the opportunity to really clarify my style and niches within photography. My 2 favorite discoveries in this class were finding my love of food photography and learning about cinemagraphs. Cinemagraphs are images where one (or a few) parts of the image are moving (it reminds me of Harry Potter…so that could definitely be part of the reason why I like it so much!) I’d never heard of them before and enjoyed the creative process of planning the shoot and editing it. Originally, I was just excited about food photography because it was an excuse for a poor college student to buy her favorite salsa…but then I fell in LOVE with it! You get to style the table, pick the dishes, use the ingredients, and create a aesthetically pleasing mess 😉 It taught me a lot about lighting, my editing style (I realllyy love a good moody edit 😉 ), thinking creatively, trying new angles, and having fun!

Below are some of my favorite portfolio pieces from the projects I got to work on this semester! I learned that I love anything that really allows my creative juices to flow and think outside the box. Between getting creative with projects while having COVID, amazing roommates modeling and letting me rearrange the living room for shoots, a winter landscape excursion, a reflector flying into the river, building my website, and more, I learned so much in this class and it only makes me more excited to keep learning and trying new things. Stick around for many more photos and stories to come!

If you are looking into investing in your photography skills or trying out a new style, I highly recommend it. You learn so much about yourself, life, and your craft. You just might surprise yourself at what you learn, use your skills to help others, and find a new love. Here’s a link to another student’s work who dove deep into learning different styles. If you go on this journey, follow me @k_creates_ so I can see your work!


Digital Imaging – Comm 316 Portfolio Photography

Food Photography Personal Project

How I Learned Food Photography

I tried food photography for the first time last month. While food and photography are two of my favorite things, I wasn’t sure how I would enjoy the process of styling a food shot. However, after shooting my favorite salsa (view here), I was hooked. I love creative shoots, and this type of photography includes so many different creative aspects. There’s color, playing with light, selecting the right dishes (I get to add to my collection of mugs and dishes, so count me in!!), styling the food and props, using the right table textures, ect. I felt like a little kid creating in the kitchen!

After my salsa shoot, I decided to do a personal project to dive deeper into this form of photography that was new to me. I created a Pinterest board  for tips and inspiration, followed Food Photographer educators on social media (some of my favorites: @useyournoodles @healthylauracom @bealubas), watched YouTube videos on topics like styling and lighting, joined a Facebook group of other food photographers, and went thrifting for my own collection of styling supplies. I also enjoyed the editing process as I brought the images into Lightroom and practiced creating different moods for my photos. Even food can tell a story. (:


My Food Photography

Here are some highlights from the shoots I did for my personal learning project. There are 26 images in these 5 posts. Click on the links below each section of images to visit the posts and learn more about the process behind each one.

Part 1 & Part 2 of Styling Cookie Food Photography

Sam’s Choice Chocolate Food Photography Post

Breakfast Yogurt Food Photography Post

Lara Bar Product Food Photography Post

Resources For You & How to Hire Me

This personal project stretched me in many ways as I tried new things, failed, kept trying, thought creatively, and dove deep into learning more about the art of food photography. I found myself spending free moments looking up more resources and inspiration for my shoots. The hours shooting flew by as I setup and shot the images (and occasionally snacked (; ) If food photography is also something you’re interested in, I recommend looking into the resourced I listed at the beginning of this post (Pinterest Boards, Facebook Groups, YouTube -The Bite Shot is a great one, and Instagram Educators) You can also read this post for some styling tips I learned. Before you know it, you’ll be making everyone’s mouth water with your images!

If you would like to hire me to capture your incredible food, contact me here

Thank you for stopping by!

~ Kianna Leah

Follow my photography adventures and connect with me @k_creates_

Sam’s Chocolate Food Photography

Chocolate Food Photography Process

“Lots of chocolate for me to eat!” – Eliza Doolittle 

For this shoot, I got to photograph Sam’s dark chocolate. (It’s 72% cocoa which I think is perfection!) There’s something very classy about chocolate, and so I knew I wanted to shoot it on a black background. I picked one up at Walmart and also came across pomegranates. When I think classy, I think red, so I decided to throw some pomegranates in to style the shoot. Plus, pomegranates with chocolate is a heavenly combination! (Adding other food items to your shoot can really bring color and style to your shots. Check out this example from another food photographer. She uses spices to color the shoot.)

The sun was starting to set when I did this shoot, and so I placed my table by the window and moved things around so that there was a streak of light falling over the chocolate. I enjoyed playing with the lighting and being intentional with it in this shoot. The editing process was also fun! I tried some different styles and tried to really pull out the delicious dark brown of the chocolate with the red of the pomegranates.


Sam’s Choice Chocolate: Food Photography Final Images

Follow along on my photography adventures and introduce yourself  @k_creates_ on Instagram 

Want to work with me? Click on the contact page to send me a message. I can’t wait to meet you!

Breakfast Food Photography ft. Yogurt

Yogurt Breakfast Food Photography Process


I had a lot of yogurt for breakfast these past months after coming down with strep…twice. While I was eating it for all the good probiotics, there’s no reason you can’t dress it up! Berries are my favorite addition. Sometimes it’s frozen blueberries and raspberries, recently it’s been pomegranates (big YUM), and for this shoot I tried cranberries! Then I threw on some raisins, slivered almonds, and walnuts. If you want to go all out, drizzle some honey on top! Is your mouth watering yet? (;

To style these shots, I used some dishes I thrifted at the D.I. I also enjoyed trying different setups and angles, but my favorite was styling the overhead flat lay shots. I spent time arranging and rearranging and had a fun time figuring out how to best show off the yogurt. (Quick tip: When I tried to space our my raisins or other food items perfectly and evenly, it looked weird. I had a lot more luck just taking a handful and dropping it on the table. I then altered a few things, but found that that process made it look more natural. Here’s another example of another photographer who uses this technique.)  Editing was also a fun process because I tried more moody looks and brighter ones. Now let’s see how this shoot turned out!


My Breakfast Yogurt Food Photography

Follow along on my photography adventures and introduce yourself  @k_creates_ on Instagram 

Want to work with me? Click on the contact page to send me a message. I can’t wait to meet you!

Lara Bar Food Photography

Brand Food Photography: The Lara Bar

Lara Bar’s are my go to college splurge. They’re healthy with straightforward ingredients and are great for days where you are on the go. ( I also enjoyed learning the story of how they were created. Click here to hear the founder, Lara Merriken, speak on the “How I Built This” podcast.)

Partly because I wanted an excuse to get another box for an upcoming road trip, and partly because I thought it would be fun to create a shot with all the ingredients in the bar, I got some Cinnamon Roll Lara Bars. (My other favorite flavors are Apple Pie, Lemon, and Blueberry if you’re new to them.) You can also make your own with this recipe!

I laid out the ingredients on a paper texture table top, like this one. Then I had some fun figuring out how to arrange all the nuts, dates, raisins, and spices. Below is a behind the scenes time lapse of different styling!

Final Lara Bar Photographs

These were my favorite shots and styling from this shoot and I enjoyed editing them on Lightroom. 

Follow along on my photography adventures and introduce yourself  @k_creates_ on Instagram 

Want to work with me? Click on the contact page to send me a message. I can’t wait to meet you!

Part 2: Styling Cookie Food Photography

Cookie Food Photography Styling Continued…

If you missed the first post, click here. It has styling tips and behind the scenes for you!

I can never decide if I like cookie dough or the actual cookies more. So, when you can’t pick one, you just pick them both. Part 2 shows my styling for the dough and the baked cookies. This was fun because I was able to try out different moods in the editing and did some different angels for the shots. I also brought in a new texture and props to give my last cookie shot a more Christmas mood. When doing food photography, sometimes it’s fun to take your food and try out a different setup. It can be as simple as changing a towel or plate or a bigger change like the texture and lighting. Don’t limit yourself. Do have fun and get excited about the creative options! Here’s another great resource to get thinking creatively with your styling.

Let’s head to the pictures! Let me know in the comments if you prefer cookie dough or cookies 😉


Cookie Food Photography: Before & After the Oven

Follow along on my photography adventures and introduce yourself  @k_creates_ on Instagram 

Want to work with me? Click on the contact page to send me a message. I can’t wait to meet you!

How to Style a Cookie Food Photography Shoot Part 1

Styling Cookie Food Photography

Raise your hand if you are also in love with cookies?? I can’t count the number of times I’ve spent making them (probably to many, but do I regret it? Never!) Growing up, we would beg our mom to let us make a batch, saying that we were sure the neighbors needed some and it would only be the right thing to do. We were persuasive little kids, but my mom knew we were mostly after the cookie dough that is amazing frozen or not, and the warm, gooey goodness post-oven. Another cookie memory came last winter. I had a roommate that made the best cookie recipe ever and made us feel like we had our very own in-house crumble cookie shop, but better! I loved talks with her in the kitchen while we all taste tested the cookie dough 😉 So, as you can see, cookies are not only about the taste, but about the memories of making them.

I decided to capture the process of making cookies in a food photography shoot! I thought and thought about what mood I wanted to create and how to style the shot (In fact, I was still daydreaming about this when I started softening the butter in the microwave…and may have melted it..) One tip that was very fun and helpful for me was creating a Pinterest board and looking at Instagram’s of food photography for inspiration. I began studying placement, mood, and camera angles.

Some styling tips I learned were:

  1. Messy can be good! (As a messy baker, this was good news for me 😉 Sprinkle some powdered sugar or spices around. It makes it feel more real and can add some fun color splashes.
  2. Use ingredients and kitchen supplies that you use when making that recipe. I pulled in table spoons, poured some vanilla on it, threw some chocolate chips on the side, and was excessively excited to use the farm eggs that friends brought by.
  3. Check your shot every time you take a picture from a new angle. When you go to a new angle, the spacing of objects change and so you may need to adjust your props.
  4. Don’t get frustrated too frustrated when you’re first idea doesn’t turn out. Do get excited about trying other possibilities. Sometimes when something goes wrong, it will give you the creativity to get to an even better styling idea.
  5. Use texture backgrounds for your “tabletop.” I had some paper texture backgrounds that I love. You can easily clean them off, move them, and use them as the wall or table for your image. Here’s a link to one I’ve used.
  6. Flowers and plants are almost always a great addition.
  7. Go thrifting for styling props. Get placemats, dishes, or random objects and textures that match the tone of your shoot. I love thrifting and have a slight mug and dish addiction so this part was a party!

Now on to the cookie photoshoot!

Styling Cookie Food Photography: Mixing


Behind the Scenes

Take a look at my setup and process below! I love using natural lighting by placing my table by the window.

Is anyone else craving cookie dough now? Click here for part 2 of styling for cookie food photography.

I also want to leave you with another resource for styling so you can make people’s mouth water with your photography (; Click here to read.

Follow along on my photography adventures and introduce yourself  @k_creates_ on Instagram 

Want to work with me? Click on the contact page to send me a message. I can’t wait to meet you!

Idaho Winter Landscape Photography

Frostbite Beauty: Winter Landscape Photography in Idaho

One of my favorite part of Idaho is it’s skies. The clouds, sunsets, and blue skies are all stunning. Winter only accentuates this beauty and so I was excited to take my camera out and capture some beautiful Idaho winter scenes. Many of these were taken on a drive home from Island park. The sun was setting and I kept yelling “stop the car!” I would then hop out, put my camera on a tripod, and try to capture the setting sun in all it’s different stages. There were also incredible clouds that night that almost looked like mountains themselves!

Another fun winter shot to take was the Cabin at night. To get this shot, my friend and I put on rain boots and waded out into the river once it was dark outside. There was a blizzard that night, so we put tinfoil over the top of the camera to keep it safe. I placed it on a tripod so I could do some bracketing and blend the images in post. (Bracketing is where you tell your camera to take an image with 3 different exposures. That way, you can blend them in post to preserve both the shadows and highlights.) That night was absolutely magical. The river was still and the night was quiet, with whispering snow coming down all around us. The only lights were the one’s from the cabin and they were dancing in the river. It was absolutely worth walking into the middle of a river in the winter!

(Here’s a resource for you if you want to be inspired by more Idaho winter landscape photography.)


My Idaho Winter Landscape Photography

Idaho Landscape Photography

Landscape Photography in the Great Potato State of Idaho

Idaho has been my home for the past 3 1/2 years. When I first moved here from Alaska, I was honestly a little disappointed. It seemed very flat and brown. However, as I have adventured to places around my college town, I’ve fallen in love with this state. There are so many gems. From the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, to random drives around town, I love the incredible skies and fields. I was very excited to go to Yellowstone for the first time ever! It definitely took me long enough to get there, but it didn’t disappoint. We had a herd of buffalos cross the road on our way and stopped to take some pictures of the beautiful Tetons on the way. One of my favorite places was a little stretch of land filled with little geysers. The colors of the water were gorgeous and I loved the clouds above them.

The last picture is from a beautiful spot called Crest Creek. It’s a short hike with a beautiful view overlooking a river and the valley. If you hit it right at sunset it’s so peaceful.

There’s a lot more than potatoes’ to enjoy in the great state of Idaho! (: If you’re in the area and want more ideas of where to shoot, check out this link.

My Idaho Landscape Photography

About Me

Hello! I'm a creative that has fallen in love with storytelling through photography, writing, music, design, podcasting, and whatever else I can learn. I'm an enneagram 4, Ravenclaw, INFJ, and sweater and thai food enthusiast. Thanks for stopping by!