Top 5 Food Photographers Who Inspire Me

Hi all! I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend! I can’t believe we are now into September! I can already feel the chill of Autumn setting in! (Has to be my favourite season though)!

I wanted to go through my top 5 list of food photographers who have inspired me over the years! It was actually quite hard to choose just 5 photographers that I like but in the end, I chose the 5 that I felt had inspired me and have taught me the most.

5. Meeta K. Wolff – her photography is colourful and vibrant. It is never the same. She shoots a wide variety of food from all over the world and shoots it well. It’s nice to see a photographer’s portfolio that varies so much in terms of colour and composition. Every photographer has a signature style, which is great as it’s how your audience know that the images are yours! But I find that it’s also great to experiment once in a while and do something you’ve never done before. For me especially as I’m still at the beginning of my journey and still learning what my style is, it’s nice to use a variety of different props and colours in my images. Wolff’s portfolio is brilliantly varied. She teaches food photography workshops in various cities around the world such as Amsterdam, Berlin or even Dubai and I am determined to partake in one of them one day. For those that are interested, she also has a blog called What’s For Lunch Honey?

Cherry Meringue Tart-0048-by Meeta K. Wolff  Vanilla Infused Kumquat Marmalade Semolina Cake:

4. Nicolesy is a photographer that I discovered after I’d graduated from university but wanted to continue learning about food photography. Her book Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots taught me a lot about using natural light and how to style the food. Her photos are light and bright and have a nice fresh homely feel which is exactly the feel I try to give my own photography.

  Yogurt Parfait by Nicole S. Young, via 500px

3. Helene Dujardin is also known for her blog Tartelette and her book From Plate to Pixel. I discovered her whilst studying food photography for my dissertation and wrote most of my report based on what I learnt from her book. I still read through it from time to time to refresh my memory. It really really helped me at the beginning of my food photography journey and still helps me today. It’s easy to follow and ideal for beginners. I highly recommend it if you’re just starting out in the field. Her photography is light and fresh and her styling and composition is creative and artistic! I’d definitely be happy if I could produce images like hers.

Forelle Pears  Violet Macarons

2. Izy Hossack aka Top With Cinnamon is known for her delicious recipes and equally known for her unique style of food photography. I believe she started her food blog at the age of 15 and I find that incredible! Her style of photography is just beautiful, just like the food she creates. I have her recipe book Top With Cinnamon and so far have made the Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Swedish chocolate cake. Both are as delicious as they look!

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies (with herb-infused butter and fleur de sel) | Top With Cinnamon  DIY Chocolate HobNob Biscuits // Izy Hossack - Top With Cinnamon

  1. David Loftus is well known for photographing many of Jamie Oliver’s books. For me, his work is just perfection! He’s been doing it for over 20 years so of course he’s going to know exactly what he’s doing but it really does show in his images! His work is just so bright, vibrant and colourful! Without realising it, I think he’s probably my biggest influence in my food photography. He is most certainly my idol and I’d love to get to his level one day myself.

© Jamie Oliver Enterprises (2014 Jamie’s Comfort Food) Photographer: David Loftus:   David Loftus - Food:

Props: Milk Bottle

Today I wanted to talk about props and in particular, my new favourite: the milk bottle.

milk bottleI bought this milk bottle with the intention to use it for cookie shots. It’s been used more times than I thought it would and works well with other foods!

Chocolate CupcakeI use it when I feel the photo is missing something. You don’t always need to use props, you can keep the image simple and minimalistic, but sometimes you think it just needs a little extra something. I’m not saying it will work well with everything, because it won’t! I don’t think you’d get away with putting a bottle of milk next to a meaty dish for example. I’ve only ever used it when shooting sweet baked goods.

JamDoughnuts Sideview2Of course, the milk bottle also pairs really well with cookies and biscuits!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gingerbreadmen Red MovemberCookiesThis is just one prop of many that I love. Many photographers use little to no props, while others like to fill the frame with them! I think I fall in between and can’t resist browsing markets to find that unique prop but also don’t like to cram loads in. The main focus after all is the food!

At the end of the day, it’s down to what you feel the image needs or what the client is after. If you have any questions on anything I talk about on my blog, feel free to ask! What I’d like to know is do you have a favourite prop and how do you use them? Leave a comment, or drop me an e-mail: zomag@hotmail.co.uk (If you include a picture, doesn’t have to be professional, I might just post my favourite ones)!

Food Photography Workshop with Juniper and Rose Kitchen Garden School

I’m really not getting the hang of this blogging thing am I!? My last post was aaaages ago which is naughty of me! But I’m back again! I’ll try to be better!

Today I’m writing about a food photography workshop I attended back in September 2013! I wrote about this on my old blog but have lost the post so I’m going to re-do it all from my memory of the day!

The reason I’m bringing it up today is because for anyone starting out in photography, a workshop is always a good place to start. You can learn so much in a small amount of time. They’re also a great way to add to your portfolio and get some practise in!

This workshop was the very first food photography workshop I’d ever attended. Lead by Vanessa Kimbell who is known for her sour dough making and her recipe book Prepped, she taught us so much about styling the food and the use of light and props. (When attending the workshop at the time, her business was known as Juniper and Rose Kitchen Garden but she has now changed it to The Sourdough School).

The first thing we did, was shoot a microwave mushroom risotto. When she pulled it out the packet, it looked like something the dog would eat! I think we all thought, ‘how are we ever going to make that look good!?’ But Vanessa styled it really well. My photo isn’t very good as my focus is off, but the food, set up and lighting were perfect!

Mushroom risottoAfter shooting the mushroom risotto, it was coming up to lunchtime and Vanessa had made us all a sweet potato soup. Before eating it though, we got to shoot it! In the first shot, Vanessa held the big pot of soup as we all took it in turns to shoot. If I was a bit taller I think my shot would have been better, but I’m still pleased with it! It’s nice to get the essence of the cook in the image.

Sweet Potato Soup Sweet Potato Soup & herbs

After lunch, we went out into her garden where she had her own vegetable patch. We paired up and took it in turns to shoot a variety of vegetables which was great fun!

Beetroots in hand Bunch of CarrotsFrench GarlicThe next course of the day was dessert! My favourite! Vanessa had styled a variety of sweet things and let us snap away!

Cherries Cherry Pie Coffee & Walnut Pastries Coffee & Walnut Pastry Fruity Pancakes Stewed Peaches

Overall the day was amazing and so worth the money! I learnt a great deal mainly about styling the food and dressing it up with props. Here are some tips that I took away with me and would like to pass onto food photographers just starting out:

Find a style that you like, and use it to inspire your own images. In a similar way to how an artist practises drawing using other artists’ images, you could use images from recipe books and food magazines. You should find that your own ideas and style begin to develop.

Borrow props from friends and family or look in local DIY stores for wall paper samples, tiles and lino. Scrap yards or furniture stores are also good for wooden backgrounds.

It’s all about those subtle details. Add icing sugar to a pie/cake to make it look homemade. Read the recipe of the dish you’re photographing and have some of the ingredients in the frame. Add fresh herbs to a dish to add colour and a sense of freshness.

Practise using ready meals and shop bought foods. After all, you don’t want to spend ages cooking and baking to then not feel up to photographing it!

Camera shaped Lavender Biscuits

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last blogged! Time flies when you’re having fun as they say! I’ve had a busy couple of weeks with my Mom coming to stay with me one weekend and then it was her’s and my Nan’s birthday the following weekend! It’s been non-stop! But I’ve finally found time to catch up with myself!

I want to blog about these lavender biscuits as they are yummy! The first time I heard about baking or cooking with lavender, I thought “that can’t be right!” But they are really delicious! The recipe is from Vanessa Kimbell‘s book Prepped and is so simple!

CameraBiscuits_5

Firstly, you will need to make the lavender sugar in advance. All you need is 1kg caster sugar and 8 heaped tbsp dried culinary lavender. Just combine these ingredients in an airtight jar and leave for about 2 weeks, giving the jar a shake from time to time.

Then when you’re ready to make the biscuits, all you need is:
200g lavender sugar
500g butter
750g plain flour

This makes approximately 35 biscuits.

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C/gas mark 2.

2. Sieve the lavender from the sugar and tip the spare petals back into the sugar jar. Cream the sugar with the butter until white and fluffy. This makes the shortbread light. Add the flour and mix well before turning out onto a work surface. If the mix is too crumbly and it won’t come together, add a teaspoon of water and remix. Roll out to about 1.5cm and cut the dough into the shapes you require.

CameraBiscuits3

3. Place the shortbread onto a baking tray and bake for 18-20 minutes. Be careful, as the colour at the end of baking changes rapidly, so keep your eye on them.

CameraBiscuits_1

4. Place on a wire rack to cool and sprinkle with a little more lavender sugar to serve.

CameraBiscuits_8

CameraCookieCutters

I used my favourite camera shaped cutters when making this recipe! (Purchased from Photojojo).

What I’ve been up to!

Hello, long time no blog! I’m useless I know! I will get better I promise!

I went to a photography studio open evening the other night which is such a great idea! For those that don’t know what it is, my local studio opens it’s doors every second Wednesday evening of the month and welcomes local photographers in to chat and shoot! It’s free of charge and it really is a great way to meet people as well as get some free shots for your portfolio! I’ve only been living in Wiltshire for a year a half and don’t really know anyone in my area so for me it’s great to meet local photographers and get advice! I really want to start making money from photography. It’s all I ever want to do! But how to get into it, I have no clue! I’m following all the advice I possibly can so any thing that any one can offer is always appreciated!

Food is definitely what I’d love to shoot full time, but I understand that it doesn’t always work out like that and sometimes you have to shoot other things to make extra money. I’d be more than happy to shoot anything as long as it gets me in the photography door so to speak!

I’ve been told about a local company that offers courses on going self emplyed so I’m definitely going to look into that as well as thinking about doing a business day course with Aspire Photography Training. I’ve also been trying to use social media a lot more including my Instagram. I changed my name to something more appropriate: @zoemageephoto and been posting a photo at least once a day! My Instagram is also linked to my Twitter so every photo gets tweeted too!

Instagram

Twitter is also good for the ‘hours’. Here’s a list of the ones I use:
Monday #tfchour – The Freelance Club hour – great for studio, portrait and wedding photographers, make up artists and models.
Tuesday #Wiltshirehour #Bathhour and #Brizzlehour – businesses advertising locally
Wednesday #Cotswoldshour and #chippyhour – More local areas for me to advertise.
Thursday #photographerhour – general tips on photography and a great way to share your portfolio. Each week seems to have a theme for example, this week was all about wildlife photography which isn’t something I know anything about but the tweets are still enjoyable!

These are all the ones I’ve found so far – if anyone knows of any more I could use, particularly to do with food photography perhaps, let me know!

website-savoury

Next for me is to work on my website! I need to spice things up a bit on there I think, especially my about me! Again, any suggestions welcome, but I have a few ideas and will be working over the weekend on that!

http://www.zoemagee.com

That’s me for now but hoping to post again this weekend! Thanks to everyone who reads this far! Feel free to drop me a comment as it’s always nice to know who’s reading my little space on the internet!

Practise and Progress

I first started photographing food while in my second year of university in 2011. I was doing a studio photography assignment about people and their profession which involved shooting a portrait and 3 still life images to reflect their profession. I chose to shoot my Mom who is a weight loss consultant and one of the still life images I shot was of a pasta salad. This was the moment my passion was born.

I remember setting up the shot; table cloth, fork, a glass of water and finally the plate of pasta mixed with colourful vegetables. (Sadly I no longer have the image). I loved that I had created a narrative for my image with just a few props! When compared with taking photos of people, to have that control and freedom with the props meant that I could be as creative as I liked!

After that, I began to research and experiment with food photography. I discovered that I prefer natural light rather than studio lighting. Due to my huge sweet tooth, I started out shooting sweet treats and baked goods and you will most likely see that the majority of my work today is sweet!

-Both images taken 2012

During my final year of university, I chose to do my dissertation on food photography and learnt a great deal during this time. As well as a written report, I had to produce a ‘practical’ piece so I submitted a food photo calender with an image for each month. Looking back at these images now, I can see how far I’ve come. So very far!

9 Chocolate Chip Cookies

-Left: taken 2012, right: taken 2015

Even now I still have a lot to learn but seeing my images from then and comparing with my current work just shows what I’ve achieved so far. This tells me that all that time and effort spent researching and practising hasn’t gone to waste! The ups and downs, the mistakes and crap shoots that don’t make my pages, the moments I’ve felt like giving it all up and subjecting myself to my boring 9 to 5 office job for the rest of my life, have all been part of my learning experience! I’ve continued to teach myself after graduating and I’m still learning and improving but my advice to anyone in a similar position is to keep going! If you love it enough, don’t give up! Take time to look back at your progress and see how far you’ve come! You might come to see that oh actually, it’s not been a big waste of time and that maybe you are getting somewhere even if it doesn’t feel like it! Sometimes a bit of perspective is all you need! 😉

2 pancakes

-Left: taken 2012, right: taken 2014

7 Chocolate Cupcake

-Left: taken 2012, right: taken 2015

Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year + Aspire Workshop

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Hi all! This week is a post about my passion; food photography! I’m sure it will be a subject that will feature heavily on my blog, so if your passion is food or photography or you’re just starting out in the industry like me, then this blog will be for you!

Today I want to tell you about the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year award. Every year, food photographers from around the world (professionals and amateurs) enter their images into this competition. It’s a massive thing and even to make the short list is an honour! There are a variety of categories from ‘food in the field’ to ‘food portraiture’ and there’s even a category for film makers and also children! You can be a winner of a category as well as winning the overall competition. The grand prize is a huge £5000 as well as a hell of a lot of publicity! It is definitely a dream of mine to make the short list, as you get invited to the VIP awards in London where you can meet the likes of David Loftus amongst other well known photographers and chefs!

I did enter this year but sadly didn’t get very far! But not to worry, there’s always next year! I did however, get to go to the exhibition in London where they showcase all the entries that made the short list. (This is also a bonus of making the short list – your images are displayed in London for a few days where the public can browse them free of charge at the Mall Galleries).

This wasn’t the only reason I travelled all the way to London; I also took part in a complimentary food photography workshop lead by Aspire Photography Training.

apple workshopThe workshop lasted 2 hours in total. For the first half an hour, we were given a mini presentation (whilst munching on our complimentary Pink Lady apple, yum!) and then were divided into little groups and given free range to play with all the props we could ever need! The subject of our shots was of course apples!

The Simple AppleUsing only apples as the subject, it really pushed my creativity and forced me to think about how I was going to shoot them. I also wanted to use props that I don’t normally use in my own images to see what mood they would create. I ended up really liking the pewter plate against the dark background. I will have to invest in more props like this so I can experiment further! It was also great being in groups as we bounced off each other’s ideas. It was a slow start at first but once I got into the flow of setting up the shot, taking a few snaps, I’d get another idea that I’d set up afterwards! Ideally I would have used a tripod to get a nice sharp focus, but the tripod that was available wasn’t playing nice with me!

Apples and slice Apple slice props

I really enjoyed this hands-on approach and highly recommend getting yourself a little set-up by a window and gathering all the props you can find to experiment with! Even props you think you might not use as you never know what you will come up with! One of the props available to us was an old cheese grater. Why would you put a cheese grater with an apple I hear you say? But one of the ladies in the group took a beautiful shot of someone grating an apple! Genius!