Photography Workshop With David Griffen & Great British Chefs

Duck carpaccio, sea urchin foam, romanesco cauliflower, lotus root crisp

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.

Duck carpaccio, sea urchin foam, romanesco cauliflower, lotus root crisp - top

Do not be afraid to get in as close to the food as you can, and vary the angle.

Duck carpaccio, sea urchin foam, romanesco cauliflower, lotus root crisp Close up

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.

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.

Empty Plate

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.

Pascal Aussignac - in colour and black and white

Pascal Aussignac at work

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 …

Pascal Aussignac's Duchess Marmite

… although the side view of the crisps made a great photo.

Pascal Aussignac's Duchess Marmite

I snapped some onions, garlic and shallots on display in the staff restaurant, lit from above with a fluorescent light.

Garlic and shallots

In dim light tripods help – balance your phone or compact camera on a wine glass – or  buy a small table top tripod.

Onions and Garlic

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. 

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About Helen

Helen Best-Shaw is a freelance food & writer, photographer who has been writing about achievable, affordable and mostly healthy food on Fuss Free Flavours since 2007. She also contributes articles, recipes and photos to a number of online and print food magazines. Please do contact me if you would like to discuss commissioning work.

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  1. What an interesting and useful event! Really helpful tips, Helen, thank you for sharing them- Kate

  2. Ah so jealous – looks like a great event. I can’t learn ENOUGH about photography!

  3. thanks for the tips! Sounds like a fabulous event and good food to taste too I see! I do like the idea of keeping some linen in your bag. And the fluorescent light – is that a tip for lighting indoor shots ?

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