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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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!