This Tuesday I was lucky enough to pay a visit to a professional food photography studio. I went to meet Clive Streeter, who has worked in food photography since 1978 (I think that's when he said, but if it isn't I know its been a while for sure!). It was a real honour to go and learn from someone who has dedicated the last thirty odd years of their life to the craft of capturing food on camera. And such an amazing learning experience. I walked away feeling, inspired, motivated and with a bunch of new tricks in my photographic tool bag to help me capture beautiful images that really do the food I work so hard to create justice. For the day me and Jamie made a Raw vegan key lime pie. We knocked it up the night before, so it had time to set in the fridge and was ready to go in the morning. I wanted to create something super simple so that I wasn't too stressed for my day photographing. It was also bloody tasty, with a beautiful balance between sweet and sour. Even better it's actually really healthy, it uses avocado to get that creamy filling and i promise it doesn't taste like guac! I thought I would take you through some of the photos we took, and what I learnt along the way.
I transferred the cake to the studio in the cake tin I had used to make it. The first photos we took were in this tin. Obviously you would never photograph the final image of your cake in this kind of tin but it was really useful to understand how light works. And everything I learnt can be applied to other types of dishes. The side of the dish casts a shadow over the cake, we looked out we could lessen this shadow by using white foam boards to reflect light back onto the subject. We also looked at using black boards to block out light that is over exposing areas of the photo or causing reflections. We also looked at the difference between natural light and artificial light.
This is a photo taken overhead with artificial light. We used no white foam here and as you can see the shadow cast by the side of the tin covers a significant proportion of the cake.
This photo was taken with natural light. We used a white foam board to reflect light back onto the subject. We placed this board opposite the side of the tin that was casting the shadow. The natural lighten also softens the background, there grain of the wood is less clear than in the first photo.
Next we took the cake out of the tin. We looked at light again (light plays a big role in photography, who knew?!) and also the styling of the photo. We used a cake stand at first, but settled on a flat dish as we agreed it was more modern. We also looked at how different backgrounds created different images. We started with a white wooden background, then we moved onto a darker metal background, this made the green of the cake pop more. However we finally settled on a grey background which had a green hue, that really brought out the green in the cake while still being neutral. We also looked at focal length and how having a shorter focal length can focus you're eye more.
Finally we added the limes into the background. I'm really happy with the final image, I think the cake looks super inviting. It was so much fun following the cake from start to finish, and learning so many interesting techniques along the way.
I was really anxious before going to the studio. Anyone who knows me will tell you I hate meeting new people and going to new places. But I'm so glad I stuck it out, I learnt so much and walked away feeling uber proud of myself. And you know something it really wasn't that bad, in fact it was fun! I am attending a photography course on Saturday. Something I am also very anxious about, but having a great day on Tuesday has filled me with confidence that I can and will manage my anxiety. Hopefully over the coming weeks, between what I learnt with Clive and what I learn on Saturday you will notice an improvement in my photos. Got any photography (or even food) hints and tips, let me know! I am so willing and excited to learn more. And if your looking for a professional food photographer I can't recommend enough Clive highly , check out his work here and here.
For the crust
1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
1 1/2 cups of pitted medjool dates
4 medium ripe avocados
1 cup of agave syrup
the juice of 5 large limes
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup melted virgin coconut oil
1/2 vanilla pod
Lime zest and slices to garnish
1) In a food processor place the crust ingredients and blend until fine sticky crumbles form
2) Line a cake tin (ideally one with a spring side as shown above) with parchment paper.
3) Press the crust into the cake tin.
4) Clean the food processor and add the avocados. Blend thoroughly until smooth.
5) Add the syrup, lime juice, salt and vanilla and blend again.
6) While the food processor is on add the melted coconut oil.
7) Pour the filling over the crust and then place into the fridge to set for several hours (I left mine over night)
8) Garnish with lime zest and slices and enjoy!