Food and photography seem to seep their way into every corner of my life, which is just fine with me. I can think of much worse things to fill your dreams with! This past weekend it did so in a new way that I hope I’ll get to do more!
I don’t talk about it very often here but, running my design business is only half of my work life. The other half gets taken up with a much younger baby, Food Bloggers of Canada, which I started last year with Ethan and Mardi. It’s still in its infancy but our goal from day 1 was to offer our members, other Canadian food bloggers, a place to learn and have access to resources that would help them improve their blogging skills.
Up until this point, all the resources we’ve put together have been written. It was time to take it up a notch. So last Saturday we hosted our very first set of workshops here in Vancouver: Food Photography with Jackie Connelly.
Jackie is a well-known professional food photographer currently based in Victoria. I had the pleasure of taking my very first photography class of any kind with her about 2 1/2 years ago – before I even had a food blog. I learned so much. Her style of teaching is very hands on – she gets you up and moving and shooting and styling right away. None of this “sit and look at the wonderful photos I’ve taken and watch me while I take more” kind of thing. That can be extremely helpful but, let’s not kid ourselves. Photography is an activity and you need to try and experiment in order to learn. It’s great to take a photo and have a professional look at it over your shoulder and give you feedback right then and there so you can try again!
Seeing as we were the hosts, Ethan and I weren’t really sure how much shooting time we would get – we didn’t want to get in the way of our attendees! But that certainly didn’t mean we were wearing earplugs – we listened in as Jackie worked one on one with each attendee, picking up some of her tips and tricks on everything from angles, to light, to working around pesky reflections, to the benefits of a macro lens and understanding colour balance. And getting to try all of these things as she explained them went a long way to helping everyone learn.
In the end, E and I did get to work our way into the fray, shooting in between the gaps of all the students and I even got a little one on one time with Jackie where she helped me out with my overhead shots and gave me some very useful tips on angles for food.
We held the workshop in Sugar Studios and it was a great space. The entire studio, including the furniture was white, and with a massive south facing window it was beautiful and bright. You know how we always wish we had more light? Now I know how tricky having loads of light can be! But I’ve always loved really clean, bright, whitespace shots and I got my chance to try some.
Our second workshop with Jackie was a Q&A session where we got to learn about the ins and outs of taking our photography to the next level – where it can provide an income – and becoming a freelance photographer. I found this whole session fascinating – not just from the photography specific parts of it but also just getting to hear the experience of another person running their own business in a creative field.
Getting to meet some lovely local bloggers and FBC members was also a great plus to the whole day. The whole experience and shooting in a completely different setting than I’m used to really fired up the creative juices!
Food Photography Tips
All the photos in this post were shot during the workshop. I will admit to being totally obsessed with the white couch and the pink drink.
Don’t Be Afraid to Overexpose the Shot
Honestly, I know it sounds funny but it really was quite tricky to get the hang of all that white and light. It was so easy for the walls and table to look grey and determining exposure took a lot of trial and error. I actually found it worked really well if I over exposed the photos (just like snow shots!). But then it became a challenge to not wash out the food. I found that I had to be careful how I picked my focal point so that it wasn’t too dark or too light, which would completely change the look of the image.
Food Photography Angles
One really useful trick I learned was shooting drinks and stacks of cookies by photographing them at an angle just below the surface they’re resting on. So, in effect, you are shooting upwards, but just barely. It gives the drink or stacked food the illusion of appearing bigger. I was amazed at what a huge difference this made in some of my photos.
Changing your angle is also a way to combat reflections – and with all those shiny white surfaces, we had a lot of them. Jackie showed us how to take into account all your light sources – because you probably have more than one, even if you don’t realize it! By doing so, you can change your angle and position to cut down on reflections and shadows. Don’t be afraid to move around!
Big thanks to Jackie for being so generous with all her knowledge, her gear and her experiences. It was a great workshop!