This past weekend, I attended a food photography workshop run by House of Brinson. If you haven’t checked out their blog yet, you really should. It’s brimming with beautiful photography and recipes. Naturally, when they announced their workshop, I signed up immediately.
This was, hands down, the most helpful and informative food photography class I’ve taken yet. There being only three of us in the class, the small student-teacher ratio really allowed us to get in all our questions, and get as much information and assistance out of the class as we could.
We each set up a total of three shots. William, the photographer was on hand to give us advice on topics such as lighting, exposure and white balance, while Susan the art director would supply styling tips – as well as cooking up a storm (for both eating and photography purposes).
Here are the photos I took, with some notes scribbled in for helpful hints.
My first shot was of a bunch of golden beets (pictured above). I kept the styling simple so I could concentrate on the veggies. That being said, we did get to pull from the Brinson’s vast supply of cool vintage props. Like the soap stone that the beets are seated on.
You may remember from my previous food photography post that white and black cards can be used to reflect light and create shadow. I used two black cards in this shot to make the beets a little more moody. Who doesn’t like moody beets?
In fact, roasting beets is a great way to make them both moody and tasty. Here’s how to make Roasted Golden Beets:
What You Need:
1 bunch golden beets (about 4), rinsed with the stems cut off
tin foil to wrap them each individually
2 tablespoons olive oil
What To Do:
Heat up your oven to 350 degrees.
Wrap each beet loosely in tin foil.
Place in the oven, wrapped and on a cookie sheet and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife and soft on the inside.
Remove them from the oven and peel off the skin (be careful – they will be HOT).
Slice them up into chunks and place in a bowl.
Season with sea salt and the olive oil. Rosemary is nice too if you have some fresh on hand. Serve alone as a side, or throw them in a salad.
My second shot was of a Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella and Zucchini Savory Pie that Susan baked from Martha Stewart’s Pies Cookbook (we also ate a duplicate of this guy for lunch).
A filling of zucchini, tomatoes, and cheese was enveloped in a buttery crust like an enormous pocket. Check out Martha’s book for the recipe.
Two challenges faced me when photographing this pie:
1. It was a little lopsided – too much crust on the lower right hand side.
2. It smelled really good. Even after eating it for lunch, I wanted another piece.
I cropped out the lopsided portion of the crust (you really don’t need to see the whole pie anyway), and tried my best to ignore the smell of the cooked veggies and cheese. As an added trick, we used gray cards for white balance/color temperature control.
My final shot was of four leek and puff pastry squares fresh out of Susan’s oven. They looked so nice on their parchment paper that I scooped them up in the pan and started clicking away. Eventually, we decided that the pan wasn’t working in the shot, so we removed it, keeping the parchment paper.
We didn’t use any artificial lighting – all of it was natural light coming in through the windows. It happened to be a VERY cloudy day this past Saturday. If you were in the NYC area that day you might recall it being downright unpleasant: horizontal rain and whatnot. However, we were still able to achieve nice lighting by slowing the shutter speed waaaaay down.
And speaking of puff pastry, it’s something that’s ridiculously easy to make. I even recommend getting the store bought variety and then topping it with any number of things. Take for example this recipe from Bon Appetit for a Honey Roasted Onion Puff Pastry Tart. You could also use many of our suggested pizza toppings, like the Fig Prosciutto and Ricotta topping.
Hopefully, in the coming weeks I will have much improved food photography for you. Although, I will still be inserting many a wonky iPhone shot just to balance things out.
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