When I arrived at Matt’s studio Sunday morning at 9 o’clock, everyone there was working on their food and setting up their props on trays for their photo set-ups. Matt announced that we would be shooting two set-ups at a time on two tables in front of the big double garage door-sized window that was covered with a white gauze fabric.
The natural light coming in the window was ethereal and back lit the food and props in such a beautiful way. I had been having trouble finding the light for my photos, which was the main reason I had wanted to come to this workshop. And there it was.
I was hoping to get my photo shoot over in the morning, so I could spend the rest of the day photographing the other set-ups and activities. And I had butterflies in my stomach about my shoot, wondering if it would turn out alright. Or if my fledgling photo skills would embarrass me. I had brought two containers of raspberry sorbet, so in preparation I put a bunch of scoops on a plate and put it in the freezer.
It was really interesting to watch Cindie and Denise help everyone with their food and props. Cindie was absolutely meticulous with her placement of every little thing.
Cindie helps Carolyn Sue Nelson style her Shrimp Remoulade. Photos by Lynne
At one point someone was looking through a camera viewfinder and said they thought there was a lot of reflection on the knife in the set-up. It was evident Denise and Cindie have been working together closely for a long time, because they both yelled out in unison from opposite sides of the room, “Get the cream cheese!!” So the cream cheese was appropriated from the kitchen and rubbed on the knife to dull the reflection, and the photo shoot proceeded.
While Denise and Cindie were helping with the food styling, Matt was helping set up the tripods and getting each person’s camera pointing at the right angle. Some were from the side, some at 45 degrees and some straight overhead.
Cheri’s Tortilla Soup is made picture perfect by Cindie. Photos by Lynne
In the kitchen Denise was giving a demonstration of how to make a raw turkey look like it was cooked. She sprayed a Kitchen Bouquet and water solution on the turkey, let it dry and then sprayed more solution where it needed to be darker. There were many layers of spray until you could not tell it from a real cooked bird. We looked at magazines that Matt had in the studio, and because it was November, there was a Thanksgiving turkey on every cover. It was quite apparent that the plump smooth ones were raw and painted, and the shriveled ones were really cooked. This was a revelation to me. Henceforth I would be looking for trickery in every food photo I saw.
Food styling of raw turkey by Miri. Photo by Lynne
Food styling by Gilda Zevallos Photos by Lynne Food styling by Lisa Canning
Food styling by Gaby Dalkin. Photo by Lynne
Finally, by 3 o’clock, everyone had photographed their set-up except me. I was the last one. I laid out my napkins and, with Cindie’s help, arranged the glassware and spoons. Matt put my camera on his tripod and got it at the correct angle. I got the scoops of sorbet out of the freezer and got the raspberries, sorbet and cookies arranged. Matt put my camera on manual (its first time) and showed me how to focus manually. I was astounded at the clarity I was able to get, which I hadn’t been able to do before. My heart was beating like crazy and Matt told me to take the photo. There…it was done. At last.
Matt had been downloading each person’s money shot from their camera’s memory card throughout the day, and he told us he would send us all a slide show in the near future. So we wearily cleaned up the studio and packed up our stuff. Fond goodbyes and hugs were given as we departed. The end of an unforgettable weekend.
When I got home I found that a magical transformation had occurred. Every thing in my house, including the furniture, dishes, utinsels, pans, napkins, linens, cheese boards, cooling racks… had all morphed into PROPS. It was amazing. I had to laugh.
Don’t miss reading about the information-packed Day 1 of this Food Styling and Photography Workshop.