Food Archive

A little something different: food photography

By far, the most helpful styling & photography specific workshops that I have found are food photography workshops. Specifically, anything put on by the incredibly talented and humble Helene Dujardin.  As most of you know, I am self taught both with the technical side of photography as well as, more recently, the styling side of the commercial photography industry. Heck, I am pretty much figuring it out as I go with commercial photography in general and product styling specifically.  It’s proven very difficult to find great hands-on styling training as well as any kind of wisdom about how to navigate the industry and so, food photography, while different, has really helped me to connect the dots and grow in my knowledge and styling in ways that have easily carried over to products. Not to mention, I just really love and admire everything about food photography. Check out my Pinterest styling inspiration boards and you will find lots of food styling images that I use as inspiration for my product styling.  Food styling (as opposed to just food photography) really is a whole ‘nother beast – one that I don’t really have any interest in wrangling right now BUT I will take any bit of styling advice that I can and so when I heard that Helene was going to be putting on a workshop in Birmingham with her favorite food stylist Tami, who is phenomenal in her own right, I just could not possibly miss it.

So, over the course of day 1 we had two assignments, the first was breakfast and the second was a pasta dish.

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I was able to select my surfaces and props and then pull what I wanted from the large spread of food and ingredients provided to create my own images.  Overall, I’m really happy with the results and can see how I have grown since attending her workshop last year.  I still feel like I have no idea what I am doing but each time I learn to trust my gut a bit more.

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For example, my gut tells me that glitter tipped nails are not a great fit for this image…but hey.

One thing that I love love love about this workshop is that everyone is able to create their own images with the large spread of ingredients, surfaces and props provided.  No vying for position or all attendees coming away with “different” versions of the same image (that they really should not be taking any credit for anyway) and the best part – no two images look alike – AT ALL!  You are taught some principles, watch it put into practice and then (gulp) let loose on your own under their watchful eye – ready to lend a hand when you get stuck.

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I had a lot of fun getting some practice with styling the pasta for this second set of images.  For the above image I had a color story in mind but it took a lot of playing around and not liking anything to figure out the best way to execute it without defaulting to my comfort zone of shooting overhead.  In the end I really love the angle that I ended up with thanks to Helen’s suggestions.

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For this last image I had about 10 minutes left to execute because of how long I took developing the first image so it really didn’t get the time and attention that it deserved. There are elements that I like about it…the curve of the props leading through the image, the contrast of white on the dark background, the simplified color palette and the pops of green.  I’m still not great at “editing ” my own image visually and so I have a hard time choosing between two similar images like these last two – probably because neither is really a winner.  I like the completed thought of the S curve in the top one but I like the closer feel of the second one and not having the bread, which I never did conquer, in the first image.  If I were going to develop this image more it looks a little too clean to me. I would mess it up a bit with salt, stray peas etc on the table and would love to have added a dark rich texture like a bowl of a beautiful kale salad peeking in. My noodles were also going a bit flat but hey, not bad for a non food photog!

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Day two we learned how to make a Galette and then were each given a unique assignment with specific criteria.    The assignment that I drew read “Girly, bright happy light, incorporation of florals, pattern and multiples.”  Um…yes please.  Here are my two favorite images from this assignment…

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Obviously, out of all of the images this felt the most like “me” haha and at one point I had to just stop trying to create an image that wasn’t me and got the helpful push I needed to make this one my own.  Such a wonderful and helpful experience on so many levels.  Now I just need to find someone who enjoys cooking all of this amazing food so that I can get more practice!

 

 

Styled Stock Photography: Breakfast Styled Desktops

We are so excited about something new that is hitting the shop today! These early morning desktops are the perfect addition to your website, Instagram Feed, Blog post images and Pinterest image promotion! If you are a web designer looking for a new way to show off your portfolio, or are a small business looking for a fun way to share a current project or a feature that you have recently received these styled stock images are so perfect for you! We have versions that include simple negative space for text or product overlay and smart phone and tablet screens!

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One of our favorite new concepts that you guys have been asking for is blank notepads for writing notes to your followers and announcing sales and promotions beautifully on social media!

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Succulents are so in right now and that didn’t go unnoticed in this new styled stock image set!

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If your morning looked like this, wouldn’t your work day be off to a great start? Get yours and be sure to share with us how you use it with the #scstockshop hashtag on Instagram! You may even be featured on the SC Stockshop shop feed!

In the studio: Citrus Stock Photography

It is no secret that I am a lover of food photography. Great food photography accounts for the majority of the images that I use as inspiration for my own client work. If I can find a way of styling food it into client work I will. Every time.  Every year I create an inspiration board of things that inspire me, fire me up, and things that I want to more intentionally incorporate each year in life and work. Every year citrus images make it on the list. It is something about their scent that is always a refreshing inspiration to me. So, I made it a 2015 resolution to shoot more citrus! This past weekend, while the kids were napping and I had some down time, I decided to begin to make good on that little promise to myself!  It was a step in the right direction and I am loving these bright and airy citrus images that were the result of my playing around (and the way they made my studio smell wasn’t so bad either)!

 

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All of the images were shot in natural light and I am proud to say that the gorgeous leaves you see featured came from my brand new orange tree! I can’t wait to pick my own oranges!

 

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I just love graphic images like these with lots of white negative space!  I have mentioned this before, but I am dying to shoot a cookbook one day. Any food bloggers out there have a need? If so, I am your girl!

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Even though I shot these images for myself for fun, I would love to hear if you would be interested in having them (or something like them) available in the SC Stockshop!  Am I the only one gushing over citrus? I am likely going to do a limit run of them in the shop for a brief period of time in time for Spring/Summer shop advertising. I am also curious if you would like to see any other food related images in the shop? I would love to get your thoughts in the comments below! We are revamping the shop this year and I am always open to your feedback!

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I’m sorry that you can’t smell these images, haha but I hope that they at least give you a little visually inspiring refresh for your day! Happy Thursday friends!

Surfside Food & Photo Workshop | Day 2

In between eating amazing food at the workshop, we take a few pictures. This morning we go to learn a bit from Helene about composition and styling and then watch her style and shoot a beautiful scene (you’ll have to check my IG feed for her final image!).  She had taken the time to prepare a rather ugly, plain (but no doubt delicious) soup as a challenge for us today.  Without a beautiful food subject to count on you really had to be creative and thoughtful in telling a “story” that would draw people into the image and invite them to linger (over ugly soup).  The other unplanned challenge was that it was a dark, disgusting, rainy day outside!  All of our gorgeous bright natural light was gone but Helene used it to illustrate how we could still use it to our advantage.

I really wanted to push myself today to create something outside of my typical bright,cheery, minimalist style.  As soon as they let us loose in the make-shift prop rooms I went for the darkest surface that I could find and started to pull dishes and silverware that I felt would work well together while providing a mix of textures. I pulled dark gray linens, a mix of metal and ceramic bowls and plates and a few other little pieces that I would use to create my dark, rich color palette.  The color story always seems to be the place that my mind goes to first and once I have my props selected and some initial styling done, I bring in my food at the very end.  I was really really happy with how these images turned out. I love all of the complimentary colors and textures going on. I love that you can see yourself sharing a meal and a glass of wine with a friend on a rainy day in this image.

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I was able to create two shots with this “story.” The first was shot from overhead, obviously the way I tend to “see” things stylistically and where I am generally the most comfortable.  While we styled and shot, Helene was on hand to answer questions or help with pointers when we got in a bind. She provided some really helpful tiny pointers that made a big difference in executing my vision for this scene.  For my second image I worked to convert this styling into a 3/4 shot…an angle that I rarely use and one that comes less naturally to me creatively.  I think it turned out gorgeous and I have a hard time picking a favorite between the two!

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Just a few of the things that I learned today from the workshop are:

1. I was BLOWN AWAY by what Helene was able to get in such low light and I was easily able to put her lessons to the test and create gorgeously lit images while on a higher (then I would normally shoot) aperture, with a beautifully low ISO!  Seriously, my mind is still blown.

2. I am learning to trust my instincts a bit more with styling and at the same time, try not to overthink things.  Any of you who have worked with me live on a product shoot know that I become really perfectionist when it comes to styling. With open ended time to “tweek” my styling I sometimes need to know when to just move on!

3. I want to start shooting tethered when I am doing on location shoots with clients.  And maybe even in my own home. It just makes the process so much easier when you can see the image full screen, see your problems and make your tweeks and be done!

I should also mention that another thing that I have learned is that I do not enjoy the cooking process as much as the eating process. haha. I guess I knew that already but I have truly gained a whole new respect for those of you who just really love the cooking process and can nerd out reading recipe books when I am only opening them to look at the pretty pictures ;)

Until tomorrow!!

Shay

Surfside Food and Photography Workshop | Day 1

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!

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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.

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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!

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