I have stolen away this week to treat myself to four days of eating gourmet food, learning to cook, and learning to style and shoot food from one of my favorite food photographers Helene Dujardin. So, basically, I have died and am in heaven. I might not come back. I started following Helene on Instagram after devouring (no really, the images in it are good enough to eat) her book…twice.  When she announced that she was hosting a gourmet food photography and cooking workshop…at a beach house…it really took some convincing (not) and I really took some time to think about whether it would be worth it (not).  When I told Graham that it was a workshop that revolved around eating and styling he told me that I basically HAD to go. (Thank you honey). I agreed.

Each day we spend a bit of time learning from Helene, watching her style and shoot a scene and then they let us loose in a kitchen full of beautiful fresh food and with two rooms full of surfaces and props and tell us to have fun and create two shots that we love. Oh. my. goodness. The hardest part for me is getting past all of the options!  I have to just pick something and go with it.

Seeing all of those gorgeous props I wanted to create a beautiful color story. I and went for a beautifully vibrant beet salad that the chef had made the day before and selected a light, textured surface with minimal props.  I liked the shape and surprising pattern of the radishes when cut open and I chose a simple clean bowl that mimicked the shape of the radishes to give it some visual interest.  I stuck with the clean, bright, minimalist style that I tend to be drawn to and really do love the first shot that I created!


Also in the kitchen and vying for my attention, was the most gorgeous bunch of radishes in all different shades of pink, red, white and purple.  I didn’t have much time left for a second styling, we were really only supposed to create one, but I tried to quickly fit this idea in.  I would have loved to fiddle and perfect it (radishes like to roll…how dare them!) and I wish that the leaves had been green and fresh enough to keep but I do like the concept and the color palette in my second shot even if it was not perfectly executed.


So that was day one. Already I have learned some things that will drastically improve the way I shoot.  I knew that so much of what would be covered would apply to product photography and I am looking forward to putting everything to use.  Among those simple but game changing tips that I have learned are:

1. Instead of being so quick to increase my ISO in lower light, I should rely on my tripod more and not be afraid to slow my shutter speed way down to get the exposure that I need.

2. I am generally shooting way more open (aperture) then I should be, especially for print.  Again, taking advantage of my tripod and slowing my shutter speed down instead of widening my aperture to take in more light will keep my pictures crisp and with more detail preserved.

3.  You photographers may laugh at me but I had never heard of the golden spiral.  Its kind of like the rule of thirds…a great rule to learn and then forget. But hey, you never know when it will come in handy!


Tomorrow I want to push myself to create something a bit darker and more rustic, outside of my comfort zone but with more depth and warmth that draws you into the shot.  More to come!