This is not only what I consider to be The most beautiful book of the year, but it is also one of the most helpful books of the year for those who take photos of food (whether through accident or design).

Its most striking feature is the gorgeous photography throughout. The photos are not just showcased for all the author knows — which is breathtaking in both breadth and depth — but show how to, say, take step-by-step photos for a photo essay or how-to.

The page layouts are exceptional, too, both clear and dynamic. The tone of the prose is informal, even conversational, yet quite direct with no extra verbiage or unnecessary diversions. The overall effect is a dear friend helping you out, who just happens to be a world-class food photographer, yet remembers what it was like figuring everything out on your own.

The book is divided up into seven chapters, each with six or eight several subsections, some of which are just a page or so, while others are 20 pages long. The chapters include lighting, capturing and shaping light, the characteristics of light, working with artificial light, and working with natural light. The second chapter is on the composition the third is on styling, the next is crafting a story, then editing and processing, followed by case studies and finding and developing your style. The different sections are extremely helpful, and well laid out, with practical yet inspiring instructions both in terms of principles and practices.

The case studies chapter includes examples of how to apply these different practices and principles with subsections including a Mesa table scene, caramel drizzle cake, a dark and Moody cocktail, and both flour and flambe action shots. The commercial bottle shot using a simple one-light setup is another example of how practical yet helpful each section of the book is. The book is well-edited, with no waste here. It’s all good, constructive, and extremely valuable. It’s so great that, aside from my own use, I got an extra copy for my daughter’s pastry shop to help elevate their social media photos.