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Sandwiches.

Sandwiches are great, aren't they? Seriously. The practicality of carrying anything messy by stuffing it between some carbs (presumably so that you can get it to your face with a higher percentage of success) has led to some beautiful creations: the classic ploughmans, the salt beef on rye, the 'Club', the humble chip butty, the PB&J, the late night kebab, the cheese toastie, the lobster roll, even the Sausage & Egg McMuffin....the BLT: needs no more explanation than three simple letters.

Seems like a good enough reason to pick some cool ones, make 'em, shoot 'em and eat 'em!  Along with me for the ride was the highly travelled and highly trained Livia Abraham, whom I met on a very big advertising shoot and got talking about testing together.

I'm very glad we kept in touch and got to shoot together; the results are (as usual) a little different to how I usually shoot  - I wanted to try my hand at something cleaner for one of the shots, and it was a recipe I didn't imagine at first would work for such a set up...but I'm glad I pushed to try it and am pleased to still be picking up tricks and tips from everyone I work with, from all disciplines. 

These were fun to eat, by the way. All of them. That drippy basil oil on our baguette shot was PERFECT amongst the goat's cheese and squidgy roasted tomatoes and parma ham. In fact, I chomped into that so enthusiastically I nearly skewered myself on a stray toothpick.  #noregrets

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

Trial and Error.

I think it's important to celebrate and document the wins as well as the losses.

I had a morning free and a few props lying round the house a couple of weeks ago and decided I wanted to give a stop motion thing another go.  I've made an attempt previously, shooting some chocolate mousse *mysteriously* disappearing (nom!) but I used daylight and quickly saw the error of my ways. I said to myself; next time I do this, I'm going to give it a proper go...flash, a storyboard, props etc. 

I knew that shooting from one aspect wouldn't be that much of a technical stretch (and, to be honest, I was on my own doing the food and everything so if it didn't work I needn't ever show it to anyone!) so I decided to edit a second aspect into the stop motion below. After loosely sketching out the order of the frames, I clamped everything down as best I could and prepped the area around my camera.  Lucky for me, this salad is one of my favourites and one I used to make for the crews who hired the studio back in my 'Lanterns Studios' days, so I could make it without having to think about it too much! Plus, I finished around lunchtime and ate that whole jar!

Click below for my latest learning curve!

I look forward to giving it another go soon; one with a faster pace, less jarring cuts, maybe more indepth planning...and a stylist to help me out on the food!

I also want to give video a go soon, but that is a whooooole different software ball game!

What software would you recommend for editing video? What do you think I could have done differently in the animation above?

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

Orange and Black.

First test of the new year and I've not been able to put these up on my site until now!

In December last year Tamzin Ferdinando, prop styling legend, suggested doing a test together with a theme she'd been working on - Orange and Black. I was IN.

I shot this, with the marvellous Amy Stephenson doing the food styling, the week before the Pink Lady Food Photography Awards deadline and from what I could piece together from the small print you can't advertise online that you're submitting an image so I thought it best to keep them back for a few weeks and avoid screwing it up altogether. I've been meaning to submit work to this competition for a couple of years and never felt particularly strongly about any of my images but I'm determined to enter from now on; every year they put on a fabulous free exhibition and showcases food photographers from around the world and I'm happy to support anything that raises the standard industry-wide.

Anyway, long story short.....they weren't shortlisted. Oh well, better luck next year! I've already got an extremely exciting test booked in for the next few weeks with a new stylist and my Pinterest is a hive of activity right now.  Keep an eye out for new work, my new logo, and a blog post about some new books I've bought.

Do you submit your work anywhere or has your work ever won you any awards? 

H x

Food styling: Amy Stephenson
Photography: Hannah Hughes
Prop Styling: Tamzin Ferdinando

Autumn Fare.

The turn in the weather over the last few days has me buying a new winter coat, busting out the slow cooker and turning to books for more comfort food ideas. It's the season for classics, with little twists. It's only a matter of time before I'm toad-in-the-hole-ing, and yes, that IS a verb.

Amy Stephenson (food styling superstar, recipe writer, assistant and very funny lady) and I did a test at the beginning of the week and I've been trying to catch up on the retouching all week -  that's the trouble with getting so much done in one day!

I'm just getting all my ducks in a row before I get the images up but in the meantime, here are a few shots, and a little GIF we did right at the end of the day, spoons poised and with fading evening light...Yum.

HIT PLAY BELOW

I was pleased to announce my lunch that day included that gorgeously earthy mushroom tart, a danish lunchtime treat and lots of drizzled honey over baked figs. MY LIFE IS SO HARD.

H x

PS. Anyone need that mousse recipe?

Food styling: Amy Stephenson
Photography: Hannah Hughes
Prop Styling: Hannah Hughes