Drinks

Lemon Squeezy.

After the success of the previous 'Modern Rustic' test, Toni Musgrave and I agreed to get together for a test to make full use of the 'zero bookings period' that occurs between the last toffee penny being consumed and the tree being taken down.

She had the idea of doing something bright and light with lemons, having a list of citrussy recipes freshly-squeezed and ready to go. "I'm in - let's do this!"

Keeping things simple and food-focussed this time, with colours inspired by last years work trip to the Amalfi coast, I took to the prop house myself to pick up a few key items.

I do enjoy prop styling, but I'd be the first to admit...I mostly feel like I'm winging it every time I go in to pull things together!  I can do it for my own shoots but to take someone else's brief, and prop it creatively with so many considerations: serving size, type of recipe, overall feel of the story, size and proportion, the look of the publication, how the photographer works with props, not to mention budgets and availability and logistics and personal style...its an artform, it really is.

We sailed through test day, with help on the day from one of Toni's friends, and I had a bit of fun with the lighting, harnessing the few rays of sunshine we have during the short, grey days we have so often in January and making the studio feel like a summery lemon grove in Sorrento. 

My favourite shot of the day: this magnificent Lemon Meringue Pie, a particular family favourite of mine and a dessert that holds dear memories of my mum and I crouched over a pan, stirring the lemon curd-like filling (admittedly shop bought, on occasion!) and waiting patiently for the squidgy capsule of citrussy essence to dissolve and pop, before both inhaling deeply that sweetness and sharpness all at once. So satisfying!

Fun to prop, fun to shoot and fun to eat.  Tests SHOULD be fun, shouldn't they?

H x

BBQ

As soon as the weather heats up, my mind turns to eating outdoors.  I'd eat all meals outside if I could, and love taking some avo on toast down to the little roof garden on our building. I've never shot on location outdoors personally but was looking forward to the challenge, so I pitched a BBQ test to Georgie Hodgson, who I've been following on Instagram for a while now (@memyselfand_pie, for those out of the know) and crossed my fingers and hoped that Lauren Miller, about-to-be-featured-absolutely-everywhere legend prop stylist, was available to make this a little different from the summer shoots that appear every year.

We were very lucky with the weather as it turned out to be the hottest day of the year, and despite a few hiccups at the beginning (who needs a BBQ for a BBQ test anyhow?! NOT Georgie!) we were done and eating frozen watermelon in the park next to the studio by 3pm. Awesome.


I love working with new people so it was great to get Georgie involved, having never even met before! THE POWER OF INSTAGRAM. That said, Lauren and I have seen each other (in person!) in prop houses, hire studios and random shoot days for well over a year, and had been trying to get something in the diary for months before this opportunity came up - I'm very glad she was able to stay for the whole shoot and we got to see her in action.

This test day also HAPPENED to fall on my birthday, and I couldn't have asked for a better team, better weather (or a better cocktail) to celebrate. Cheers guys!

H x

Neon.

Here are the results of a recent test with the brilliantly creative Tamzin Ferdinando on Props and the unflappable Sophie Foot on food styling. 

I've been doing a LOT more tests recently. I think I got a bit bogged down in the 'day to day' for a lot of last year, and the tests I DID do reminded me how essential it is to dip a toe into a bigger creative pool and occasionally swim right out of sight of your comfort zone.

Well, I don't mid admitting a few of the shots I took last year were noticeably dark in tone; rich shadows, inky blue surfaces, tarnished metals and even a test devoted totally to BLACK. I think those winter months really affect me in ways I haven't noticed before. I started up a Pinterest board just after Christmas that was the complete opposite of all of these things; a bright, sugar coated pill to ease the pain of a long, grey November.

A Screenshot of my Pinterest board, which is usually how I start to brainstorm for a test. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO GO TO THE BOARD ITSELF.

A Screenshot of my Pinterest board, which is usually how I start to brainstorm for a test. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO GO TO THE BOARD ITSELF.

I have worked with Tamzin before on our 'Orange and Black' test, and this sort of brief is totally up her street. I'm so glad she was on board and able to bring the slightly abstract pins on the Pinterest board (which featured contributions from all three of us by the shoot day itself) to life in a way that would work for a food shoot - not an easy task. Not to mention all the crafty ideas Tamzin brings to the shoot on the day that make it truly special.

Sophie, who I'd met not long before whilst assisting together on an unforgettable cook book shoot, came up with some ideas for the food that would hold its own against a strong colour palate and went above and beyond in the week running up to the test day to make sure her homemade marshmallows(I know, right?!) were perfect. We also had jars of pickles in mind for the shoot so Sophie reportedly had jars of brightly coloured things stashed around her flat for a week before the test even began!

In the end we settled on variety of pickles in jars, a rainbow Asian-inspired salad with kale, avocado, slivers of pickled red onions (straight from the jar) and butternut squash, homemade marshmallows with pistachio and raspberry crumb (a perfect gift, we decided), and rhubarb ice lollies. We even had time to make a rhubarb Bellini. Yum.

I'm thrilled with how the images turned out and I hope the guys are too (they assure me this is the case) and even more happy that spring has sprung and I get to drop some colour into my growing portfolio. 

More tests next month, including a new cocktail shoot just in time for drinking outdoors - one of my favourite activites.

H x

Food styling: Sophie Foot
Photography: Hannah Hughes
Prop Styling: Tamzin Ferdinando

India's Street Food.

This weekend was a busy one! On Saturday evening my family and I walked a half marathon around the landmarks of London, reaching the finish line at half past midnight. I woke up very proud and very achey! My late night was soon put to the back of my mind, however, when I hopped out of bed and headed to the studio for a long overdue test with fab food stylist Jas Jhalli.

We'd been talking about the possibility of an Indian streetfood-inspired shoot since we tested together back in March. Testing as an assistant is always tricky; quite often you get to the late stage of organising a day together when a block booking of paid work lands in your lap and its impossible (understandably!) to turn down. Well, Jas and I have been very VERY busy this summer, which is fantastic for us both! 

I'm pleased to announce....we finally found a day and we think the results were worth the wait!

I met Jas at prop house China & Co the week before to discuss the food. I'm no expert on authentic Indian food (I just eat it regularly!) so I was incredibly lucky that Jas IS and wanted to come along - we were able to discuss the processes and look of the recipes ahead of time. I was also very grateful that Jas brings back lots of lovely items from India whenever she visits so we had lots of extra props on hand on the day that made the images special! 

I had a fabulous day and am extremely happy with how the images came out. Plus, everything tasted as delicious as it looks and took me right back to the samosas I ate with our friends at NID.


Food styling & floristry: Jaswinder Jhalli
Photography: Hannah Hughes
Prop Styling: Jaswinder Jhalli & Hannah Hughes

Iced Coffee.

Decided I aught to try out a little cinemagraph-inspired GIF this afternoon with some cream I had kicking around the fridge. Not perfect, and done with stop motion instead of video to keep that 'jittery' charm to it, but its a start!

I hope to do a few more of these in the future, I need to figure out the 'invisible loop' side of it! I love a challenge like that!

H x