Savoury

Shortlisted.

Woop!  Proud to announce that an image I submitted from a recent test was shortlisted for the Pink Lady Food Photography Award! The shot in question, below, was of a whopper of a baguette packed with goats cheese, prosciutto, griddled courgette, roasted tomatoes, olives and basil oil and styled beautifully by Livia Abraham.

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Out of over 8000 entries, to get to the final 600 or so is obviously very exciting but I’m doubly honoured as it sits amongst images by photographers whom I’ve worked with over the years and who’s work I greatly admire.

Interestingly, the one image I got shortlisted was one I wasn't even planning on entering! It's not necessarily my 'usual' style of shooting and I had spent an hour or so one day filing through which images I wanted to put in...I took a screenshot and emailed it to myself before submission so that could look at them with fresh eyes the following day (on the bus to a shoot, which is apparently where I make all decisions, small or large!). That screenshot can be found below...

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I didn't enter anywhere near this many in the final submission, I edited it down that evening to a much smaller number but its interesting to note it didn't appear in my initial selection and I'm not sure I could tell you how or why it ended up in my second! I'm glad it did. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut.

The shortlist has some very strong images this year. I'm occasionally surprised what kinds of image end up being selected in the various categories and its always fun to see current trends in different countries and across different disciplines.  I'm looking forward to the winner being announced soon and hope to visit the winners' exhibition at the Mall Galleries, SW1Y 5BD, its on from Wednesday 25 April - Sunday 29 April 2018 from 10-5pm (closes at 3pm on the final day).

See you there!

H x

The Clink.

I got the opportunity to shoot for a brilliant charity earlier this year; one that I'd heard about a few times before and, as someone living in South London, was definitely on my list to explore further.

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The Clink serves 4000 hungry customers across four award winning restaurants within Her Majesty's Prisons each month alone, and each of those meals has been prepared and served by prisoners living and working within Brixton, High Down, Cardiff and Styal. The prisoners gain experience cooking in kitchens, serving (and even growing produce at The Clink Gardens at HMP Send in Surrey!), whilst working towards City & Guilds NVQs in Food Preparation, Food Service and Customer Service. By providing this unique opportunity, funded by the restaurant diners and donations, some 800 prisoners have graduated from The Clink training projects since 2009, and almost 100 prisoners in 2016 alone were released into work as a result.

The Clink Charity also offers events catering and, headed up by a passionate and talented team, will take the events and catering circuit by storm in the years to come, I'm sure.  I was able to shoot some of their brilliant canapes, stunning bowl food and and a selection of their delicious courses for an upcoming campaign.

I think it's a great concept, as I have always personally found cooking food brings comfort and confidence. After all, its the first stepping block of self-sufficiency (everyone seems armed with a recipe from 'home' when you first move into your own place), and food spreads happiness when it's shared with others. It's even been suggested that humans only eat when they feel secure and safe psychologically, so the preparation of food, especially for/including other people, encourages this feeling too. Happily, 250+ companies across the country agree with me and have agreed to employ from the charity's recently released trainees. 

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Book a table and check it out for yourself. Besides all the good stuff on the menu you get a side order of 'warm and fuzzies' with every meal just for supporting such a great cause.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: FOOD (in all of its delicious forms) IS GOOD FOR YOU...and, it turns out, helps other people too.

H x

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