Pasta

Modern Rustic.

In December I was very lucky to have been passed the details of an interiors stylist that wanted to do a test. Having assisted a few interiors photographers and having an interest in trying something familiar-yet-new I jumped at the chance and I'm very glad I did.

Antonia McKenzie worked very hard, taking my vague idea of contemporary place settings and hand-thrown crockery and combining it with what I was assured was going to be the colour of the coming year...beige. Now, I was willing to admit that my work thus far has been punchy shadows and bright colours but I loved the idea of challenging myself and doing something quieter. Calmer. I had to overcome my past experiences of growing up in RAF-base houses, painted a safe 'magnolia' colour as standard (YUK) and look at the colour, or lack of, as an opportunity to explore tone and texture instead.  Antonia put me at ease by henceforth calling it 'soft, warm neutrals' instead...which sounded much less frightful.

Bowls

When it came to the food, I knew the theme needed something classic: rustic and full of texture but not too 'comfort food', flavoursome and interesting without too much overwhelming colour. I was suggested (by long-time collaborator Amy Stephenson - Thanks Amy!) to get in touch with Toni Musgrave, a food stylist also looking to grow her portfolio, who took my ramblings and our collective pins on Pinterest and gave Antonia and I lots of elegant dishes to work towards in terms of props and composition.

With all the pieces of the puzzle lining up, test day came round quickly. To my team's credit, we ended up shooting VERY close to Christmas and so were somewhat against the clock as I'd hoped to shoot both aspects of the shoot in daylight.  I had a blast; both Toni and Antonia are brilliant fun and I got the chance to shoot a little further away from the food than I normally do, include a bit of the studio's charm and even snuck in an extra ravioli 'prep shot'.  

I've been enjoying furthering my photoshop skills recently, particularly the various techniques there are to manipulate colour. Shooting daylight (particularly in winter!) has its drawbacks, one of which is the colour temperature varying throughout the day depending on time, cloud cover and occasionally reflections of your surroundings.  I feel like with softer pastel colours you notice these differences more and I took my time with this set of images, looking at them as a group and balancing the colours accordingly so that the series had consistency.

Editing

I must admit I had fun with the process on this one, as it was so different to how I usually shoot and feel as though the team worked really well together! By the time we all sat down for a debrief, cuppa and slice of that delicious cake at the end of the day, floor mopped and hard drive backed up, we'd already dreamed up our next one.  Thanks again to 'The Two Antonias' for being marvellous and making what could have been a challenging brief a joy to shoot as the last day of 2017!

H x

Pretty Peas.

Another test! This time an unusually spontaneous one, brought on by the kind lending of some beautiful props by the marvellous Sarah Birks (who's name I saw everywhere on all the prettiest props in the prop houses but only recently met!).

I put out an Instagram "shout out" (see below) on the Friday before the bank holiday and the marvellous Tamara Vos got in touch out of the blue after meeting once or twice on other shoots. I've long admired Tamara's airy, pretty style and it was very flattering for her to get in touch. We had very little time to come up with something so I sent some snaps of the props we had to work with and a very loose brief and left her to come up with some ideas!

Tamara went all out and sourced some beautiful ingredients over the bank holiday weekend - not always an easy task as we found out on Tuesday morning! The recipes were simple and elegant and totally delicious.

I'm thrilled the images are kind of different to my usual style; that's what tests are for, after all! Normally I'd say my shots are a little messier, a little punchier and it's great to collaborate with someone who can nudge you out of your comfort zone and create something delicate and fresh.

I really like these images and loved shooting on the day. Plus, I have a new favourite go-to dinner party recipe - those clams were just perfect and, amazingly, come straight out of the freezer! 

H x