14 August, 2012

Three Days of Food Styling

On-location picnic shoot

If there is a more fabulous food photography/styling trio, I certainly don't know about it! Although I already shoot professionally, I still try to learn and add tips to my repertoire, and so when I saw this workshop come available, with three people in the industry who I adore and admire for their immense collective talents (Clare Barboza, Helene Dujardin, and Becky Selengut), I couldn't resist signing up. While I am pretty good at composition and shooting itself, I was very weak in the styling department. So, for me, I learned more about styling than with the photography part.

Before arriving, I imagined I'd learn a few new things to add to my own food photography knowledge bank. This, however, was a gross understatement. I learned immensely by three days of total immersion and the wide variety of projects we worked on (studio work, specific styling requirements, on-location shoots, full restaurant shoot, post-production work, etc.). Not only that, but the three different sets of eyes and experiences were well-rounded and expansive. I noticed that all of the attendees work, including my own, got better and better as the days went on.

One thing I learned was that you can be given an assignment and if it doesn't look and feel how you like the first few photos, then mix it up and create more of what you had in your head. Here are two examples of where I started with a simple fig and goat cheese crostini and a plate of Argentinian beef with chimichurri sauce, didn't like them, so completely changed them mid-stream. This is allowed! I love it. If you aren't "feelin' it" by the first couple shots (or even while you are styling), then by all means, do it differently.

While the first one is not bad (although a bit dark),
I was going for the look of the second.
Modern. Bright. Minimal.

I liked the idea of a single crostini on a bright surface but it didn't jump out at me.
Also, while the colors in the first matched the toast,
I decided richer colors worked better.

At the end of the third day, we were asked to pick what we thought our strongest photos/sets were from each type of assignment. These are mine and the themes I was going for, or those that were assigned to me specifically.

Park Picnic

Poppy Restaurant
Salad Setting
Grandma's Table
Small bites

Large platters of food can be hard to photograph

Telling a story of the restaurant/food


Restaurant with modern decor

Platter of differing heights of items

Meat is very hard to photograph

Also, this has nothing to do with anything at all, but I love this shot I took at Poppy's bar area.

A line of bitters

After three days of shooting and processing, we sat down to the most amazing closing dinner, prepared by Becky Selengut and Marc Schermerhorn. A Thai/Viet spread to die for. Becky's wife April gave us a short lesson on wine (and why we should give riesling another try).

A lovely class. I am very honored to have been a part of it.


  1. How fun! Beautiful photos, dahhling!

  2. Jackie, truly wonderful photos and very taste tempting!

  3. I'm so glad you went! I love the parchment paper photo on "small bites". I so want to go to one of these workshops. I have been following Helen for a while now..and you ;)

  4. All of your photos are stunning Jackie! I'm so impressed. Now wishing I had taken part...

  5. Beautiful photos and amazing writeup. You are talented, girl!

  6. AMAZING photos, your styling is BEAUTIFUL. I so wanted to do the workshop :( Very jealous.

  7. Nice post Jackie, your work is wonderful! Thanks for sharing these -it was great meeting you at the workshop. All the best - Karen

  8. By the looks of your photos it looks like it was not only fun but very tasty. Beautiful photos!!

  9. Gorgeous photos, Jackie. I love watching you work! If you need an assistant again sometime... ;)

  10. Looks like it was a great workshop. I could use some help in the styling department.

  11. Stunning, Jackie ... just stunning!
    I love the line-up of bitters so much!

  12. Hi Jackie! I still can't get your "Salad Setting" photo out of my head...it sooo gorgeous! =)

  13. Jackie, I loved this post! It really took us inside the art and effort involved in food photography. This was a great way of explaining how photography is not just looking at something pretty and pointing an expensive camera at it.

  14. Wow Jackie,
    Your food photographs are spectacular. Reviewing your portfolio, I have a long way to go!
    I hope one day, I can attend these workshops it looks like everyone there had a fun and educational time.

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