My photography can be one of my weaker points; sometimes I feel it is OK, but most of the time it feels just so so and I am usually disappointed by it. Consequently I was delighted to be asked by Great British Chefs to a workshop with David Griffen to hone our restaurant photography skills.
A gaggle of bloggers gathered in the staff restaurant of Google where we were treated to canapes by Pascal Aussignac of Club Gascon, who then prepared three of his dishes for us to photograph.
David stressed that great photography is all about using the camera which you have, not about your actual camera. I whole heartedly agree, having frequently felt I prefer the images I take with my iPad to those I take with my DSLR.
Do not be afraid to get in as close to the food as you can, and vary the angle.
Which of the angles of Pascal’s Duck carpaccio, sea urchin foam, romanesco cauliflower, lotus root crisp, do y0u prefer?
I loved the curve of rocket on this dish of Glazed Butternut squash, Roquefort and Trappeur Salt Tart.
Do not be afraid to experiment – with digital it cost nothing to take photos. I liked the idea of this empty plate shot, but it did not quite work as I wanted. If (as David suggested) I kept a linen cloth in my bag to pop the plate onto it would have looked far better.
There is a reason why most photos of chefs in their kitchens are taken in black and white – with a mixture of artificial lights, and heat lamps, it is very hard to correct your white balance to get colours right. I am not happy with the image of Pascal below, but it serves to make the point about black and white.
We were treated to the first tasting of Pascal’s Duchess Marmite – cheese and mashed potatoes with crisps and a Marmite sauce. The salty Marmite worked well with the creamy smooth potatoes, but I was not quite sure it was for me …
… although the side view of the crisps made a great photo.
I snapped some onions, garlic and shallots on display in the staff restaurant, lit from above with a fluorescent light.
In dim light tripods help – balance your phone or compact camera on a wine glass – or buy a small table top tripod.
The last tip from David is that the best investment you can make in your photography is a £10 reflector – silver and white (the gold is for portraits).
Many thanks to Great British Chefs, Google, Pascal Aussignac and David Griffen.