Preparation

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

Merry Christmas!

I LOVE Christmas. Christmas is a time for family, for sharing, giving (and eating!) and, for me at least...testing!  I can usually expect the assisting work to tail off a week or so before the festive break so I take the opportunity to shoot as much as I can whilst I have the time off. 

I avoid shooting anything Christmassy in mid-December as the industry (and I!) have normally moved on to Easter feasts or January health food recipes by that point, but this year I couldn't resist.  

The beginning of December meant that a few new bits were added to my kit: a gorgeous new KinoFlo and a whole load of (second hand) flash heads for me to play with - shooting past six is now not just a summer thing! I'm loving them so far, as you can probably tell!

Inspired by a shift towards the GIFs presented in portrait format, for phones and social media etc, I also shot a little how-to of my go-to...cheat's puff pastry mince pies. They are so quick, and so absurdly easy you can make them half hour before anyone 'pops round with a card'. 

I'm really grateful to anyone I worked with this year; photographers, clients, food stylists & their assistants, stylists, art directors and designers...I'm learning more every year. I would also like to thank my family, friends and my brilliant other half for making this year so memorable. I wish everyone a totally fabulous Christmas and a very happy 2018!

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