We had a special guest at this month's Pinnies & Petticoats Aberdeen Baking Club. Photographer Andi Ramsay of Developing Perceptions. He was there to talk food photography and give us some top tips to help us better preserve our wonderful baked creations before they are devoured. With this in mind there was no theme for the bakes but left up to the individual to make something worthy of its own photoshoot.
I opted to make some Summer Fruit Tartlets utilising a Mini Morsel Tin and wooden dibber that I had purchased back in the January sale from Lakeland. It had embarrassingly been sitting in the cupboard ever since. Combined with my first attempts at both Pâte à Fonce and Crème Patissière I was pretty chuffed with how well they turned out.
|Asparagus & Cheese Puffs. Sweet Potato Pasties|
Now that I've told you that we had a food photographer giving us hints and tips you'll no doubt be closely scrutinising my pics. I'll put my hands up and admit they are by no stretch of the imagination good and don't do the food the justice it deserves. Hopefully I can improve them a wee bit thanks to Andi's advice. Our cake club venue at Tiger Tiger certainly doesn't make a good studio. The dark backroom bar of a nightclub is not the best setting for food photography. Not a drop of natural daylight to be found.
As always a fantastic selection of cakes and bakes and a really good turnout of folk. New faces and old faithfulls. I know I haven't got photos of everything and I don't know exactly what they all are (apart from delicious) so hopefully the pictures will tell the story and for this post I'll concentrate on sharing some pearls of food photography wisdom. Star Baker Award has to go to Karen for her selection of Childhood Favourite Biscuits and a special mention to Colene who's giant white chocolate cupcake case was demolished by Boy and Girl for breakfast the morning after.
Many of us put a lot of time and effort into our cooking and baking but are disappointed when we try to capture our creations on camera. So often the photo just doesn't convey how good something looks in real life. I bet many of you are nodding along in agreement with this. I know I was.
Whilst Instagraming and quick iPhone photos for Twitter and Facebook do indeed have their place, Andi explained that there is a huge difference between taking a photograph and making a photograph. A good food photograph has to tell a story. There should be one main subject and you have to think your shot, composition and accessories through. Move things around and play about a bit to make that perfect picture.
Food photographs should be backlit with natural light. A kitchen window can do this for you. Then comes the issue of quantity versus quality. A bounce board (or sheet of white paper/foam core) can help solve this and fill in the shadows. To get a good composition you need to fill the frame and ensure that the most prominent item is in focus. Don't feel obligated to include the whole dish in the shot and remove superfluous objects from the background.
Next up, the rule of thirds. Like the offside rule this is a concept that some of us found very difficult to get our heads around. Think of a noughts and crosses grid across your viewfinder dividing it into nine equal squares. The focal point of the shot should align itself with one of the central four intersections. Clear as mud eh? Have a Google to find out more. Your camera may well have an option available to turn on said gridlines.
Stability is the key. If you don't have a tripod balance your camera on whatever is available. A stack of books, kitchen worktop, pepper grinder in a restaurant. The food ain't going anywhere so as long as the camera is stable the shot shouldn't be blurry. Finally when you think you have the perfect photo in the bag, if you don’t have an overwhelming urge to lick the back of your camera, then you’re not there yet.
Are you licking the screen yet? Yup its one of Andi's. As is the iced gingerbread below. I've got a lot to learn to get to the licking stage. Meanwhile I'm off to Hobbycraft to get me some white foam core board. I guess I might be forming an orderly queue behind the rest of the Pinnies and Petticoats contingent.
Andi Ramsay Developing Perceptions