Monday, 23 February 2015

Preparing my Masterclass in Food Photography

Selecting images to illustrate the morning talk for my Masterclass at the London School of Photography on February 28th has been a major task! It's a very long time since I last gave a talk - 1999 at the Courtauld Institute, a short paper on advertising photography in Britain 1929-39 to co-incide with the Design Museum exhibition "Modern Britain 1929-39" (wearing my photo-historian's hat) - so it's a bit nerve-racking but it's been fun re-visiting old favourites. It seems like a good opportunity to share a few....

The interior was shot as a jacket for a historical cookbook called "Under the influence of Bright Sunbeams" by China de Burnay. I never quite forgave the publishers for flipping it, cropping it heavily and montaging an azalea over the top! The idea was that the picture spoke for itsself(...?) The picnic was shot at the top of Box Hill for Colin Spencer's "Cordon Vert". We lugged all the props manually to the highest point and shot on 5x4 sheet film, battling wind and wasps - but the sun shone!

Before moving to my London studio I used to shoot on location quite frequently. These images are from an M&S Calendar, "French Country Cooking" which we created in the environs of one of the food stylist's relatives' home in West Berkshire. No location fees but some serious training in how to handle geese. (NEVER turn your back on them!) A large sheet of plastic was a Godsend when it rained hard just as we'd set up in the poppy field and a few spare branches helped break up the harsh sunlight on the lemon cake. Good English weather. At least 120 film sufficed this time.
A few years on we had a phase of shooting things heavily filtered with coloured gels. The effects for this project for Thomson's Holidays were created entirely in camera, shot on 10x8 which used to terrify me - I couldn't even reach round from the back to the front of the camera to focus it, it was so enormous and I HATED loading the sheet film. Marie-Ange Lapierre did a brilliant job on the food styling. It is not easy to create transparent green-blue sorbet!