Food, Glorious Food…Photography

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Posted by: Nick Spalding Category: Photography Tags: Comments: 0

On Friday I popped up to TFC Birmingham for a masterclass on Food Photography and Styling from commercial food photographer Scott Choucino and food stylist (and GBBO runner up) Holly Bell. The masterclass was taking place in the TFC studio in Birmingham and once again the team had organised an absolute peach of a class.

Scott and Holly appear to know everything about food photography and food styling and this is very quickly apparent as soon as they begin their presentation. The chemistry and working relationship between Scott and Holly is obvious, they work extremely well together i.e. the moment Holly finishes styling an item or scene, Scott is in sync and ready to hit the button before the moment is lost. The two collaborate brilliantly to produce stunning scenes to shoot.

Scott’s presentation style is one that belies a lot of knowledge and experience gained in the field and for me it was refreshing, piquing interest and attention immediately. Holly too offers a passion and depth of knowledge in food styling that I imagine is hard to match.

OK, so why was I attending this particular masterclass? Well for me it is a number of reasons but most likely something like this;

  1. I decided early in 2018 that I intended to ‘sharpen my saw’ as far as my photography skills are concerned and I aim to complete at least one course per quarter throughout 2018. I am well on track with this having completed 3 in the last 3 months.
  2. I have a passion for photography and food, so this masterclass makes for a perfect match
  3. On a commercial shoot recently I encountered a food photographer that, in my opinion, was completely lost up his own sphincter. Not only was he completely uncommunicative (to a fellow photographer), he seemed to have lost his passion for the work and appeared to be making very elementary mistakes, in spite of having a food stylist, lighting assistant and creative director on hand.  I left the shoot at the end of the day (I was doing interior shots at the time) and in a weird way this guy’s attitude inspired me to challenge myself to see if I can do better.

GAS

Without running into extensive details of the whole masterclass, I can report it is very well presented and in a relaxed, informal style at a nice steady pace. It was packed full of content, tips, techniques and inspiration. Whilst there was a level of assumed photography knowledge, it was after all billed as a master-class and not an ‘Introduction to’, Scott’s easy-to follow dialogue and almost ‘shoot with what you have’ approach was engaging and refreshing. Having suffered myself from gear-acquisition-syndrome (GAS) in the past, one of the many messages that come across in this masterclass is follow some very clear guidelines and shoot with gear you already own.

I have selected my three favourite images from the day;

Freshly Baked Cookies

This was our first scene of the day. By adding the correct props it is possible to create a complete story around your image. The hero product is the cookies but adding coffee, crumbs, baking tray and tin the story becomes so much more than if we had just shot the cookies on their own.

Pan-Fried Steak

I love the simplicity and authenticity of the staging of this shot. It makes me feel as though I can reach into the pan with a fork and bite into the succulent steak, straight from the pan. I love the fact the pan is old, scarred and battered, suggesting the steak is as equally aged, yet fresh and juicy at the same time.

Blondies and Milk

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It goes without saying, the Blondies in this shot were made by Holly (see Mrs Bell’s Brownies) and aside from being tremendous, yes, I broke my non-refined sugars rule… again by adding the bottle of milk, the napkin and the presentation tin, a story is created for this shot along with some very subtle image branding.

Summary

Scott and Holly packed enormous amounts in to this masterclass, I think in all they created more than eight food scenes during the presentation, showing us food (and styling), composition and technical techniques to take away with us. It was inspirational and left me completely enthused on all fronts and whilst it may have taken me three hours on a Friday night to get home, missing my regular Friday evening yoga class, I have to say it was more than worth it….Thank you.

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