If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you might have noticed that a few weekends ago I was enthusiastically sharing about a food photography workshop hosted by my good friends and amazing photographers, Todd Porter and Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple. I’ve heard Todd and Diane talk about food photography at several blogging conferences, so I knew the workshop held in their fabulous food photography studio outside Los Angeles would be informative, but I never imagined how life-changing it would end up being for me. Two days of listening to the experts, watching demonstrations, and practicing new shooting methods really got me thinking outside the box on my personal food photography journey.
Plus Todd and Diane had visited my house on the tour for their gorgeous cookbook, so they could help me with one of my biggest photography challenges, which is too many big windows in the rooms where I normally shoot. When I got home, I bought black foam core boards and clamps the very next day! A few food bloggers have been asking me about the workshop, so I thought I’d share some highlights and a few of my photos.
I felt Todd and Diane’s workshop had a perfect blend of lessons on lighting, photography tips and demonstrations, examples of food styling techniques, editing and file management information, and an overview of equipment, as well as some thoughts about the business side of photography for those who might be pursuing that. We listened and watched demonstrations followed by hands-on photography practice of what we’d learned; then we edited our photos and picked a few to share with the group. At the end of the two days for the “final exam” Diane and her brother set up stations of styled shots with various light conditions, and we had 40 seconds at each station to get a good shot. Overall it was a packed weekend of photography practice, with hands on help and suggestions from two great photographers.
I took an iPhone photo of the big table set up with various foodstuffs that we used for our practice photos. Food bloggers, just imagine choosing from huge rooms full of dishes, linens, silverware, glasses, and backgrounds to set up a shot. For some of our practice shots, we had to assemble ingredients that weren’t actually incorporated into a dish and then style it so it looked like a finished recipe shot, which was challenging and fun.
Here Diane was showing how any interesting surface can make a background for a food photo; in this case it was an old baking sheet! Diane would style a shot and Todd would photograph with different angles and then we got to see the results immediately, which was great for learning. I even got completely out of my box and shot without a tripod to practice using new angles. And I think there’s a new image-stabilized lens in my future.
And it’s a blurry shot with the iPhone, but the most life-changing lesson for me was watching how they used black foam core boards to absorb some of the light and add interesting shadows to the photo. (I’ve already experimented with this at home, and wow, what a difference it makes in my too-bright house.)
Now here are just a few of the many, many shots I took over the weekend.
This was one of my photos from the first day, when we had to create a photo using vegetables or fruit. This was shot in really low light to create shadows and highlights, and that was a different approach for me.
In this photo I was going for a different angle than I usually use in my pictures, and this was one of the dishes created with assorted ingredients that we had to style to look like a recipe.
For this shot I was learning to add interest with linens that aren’t perfectly ironed or lined up straight (definitely outside the box for me!) This quinoa salad was leftover from lunch (the workshop included meals for two days and the food was amazing.)
This was one of the “final exam” shots styled by Diane that we had to capture in 40 seconds.
And one more shot styled by Diane and shot in 40 seconds; I loved the colors in this although I doubt macarons will be making an appearance on Kalyn’s Kitchen any time soon!
(The next photography weekend with Todd and Diane will be in January 2015, more details on their workshop page. And if you want to see some samples of the beautiful photos from this talented couple, here’s their portfolio.)