Helene assists Shawn of Kitchen Fervor with photographing her roasted eggplant ricotta poppy seed tarts.
Last Friday, Mr. DG and I drove to LA to make a quick weekend visit to both of our families. It was also the weekend of the food photography class taught by Helene Dujardin, the famed blogger and food photographer of MyTartelette.com. I have been looking forward to this class since I signed up in January when I luckily saw a tweet by La Fuji Mama that there were still a few places left. The class was held at the Academy of Culinary Education in Woodland Hills, which is owned by Chef Cecilia Castro. The school offers individual thirty-week professional baking and cooking programs. Graduates of her programs have worked at restaurants such as The French Laundry, Farallon, Chinois and Border Grill.
Helene demonstrating with her Canon Mark II. Seen next to her are Jen of Devour the World, Carrie of Deliciously Organic, Gaby of What's Gaby Cooking, Rachael of La Fuji Mama, Jenny of Picky Palate, and Shawn of Kitchen Fervor.
Helene emphasized that it is important to use the equipment that you are most comfortable using. A high-end pro camera is not necessary to capture beautiful photos. Knowing how to use your camera to achieve the photo you want is a process of discovery. The suggestions she made were not revolutionary, just common sense -- but, of course, I hadn't thought of any of them! Such as - practice taking photos starting at the largest aperture and closing it down in increments of one stop per image so you can see how the aperture affects each photo.
Canon shooters deep in thought: Jenny, Rachael, Gaby and Marla of Family Fresh Cooking.
Helene suggested using a white board, reflector or a mirror to illuminate the subject's foreground, especially if using tricky back lighting. Using a reflector to bounce light back on the subject helps to brighten what would be the darkest side of the object. Below she is helping Rachael fill in the shadows using a compact mirror and a white board.
I think the majority or all of the food bloggers in the photography class cook recipes at home and document them on their blog. I do plan on doing that with Dishy Goodness in the near future, but so far, the emphasis of my posts has been restaurant reviews. Since I'm usually taking photos of plated food at a restaurant, I don't have much experience with styling my own food or using props, linens, etc. It was definitely a new experience for me, and I look forward to improving my food styling with the tips Helene provided.
I bought random linens from Stein Mart and Marshall's and tried some different color combos before settling upon the pale green solid napkin and geometric grass green and white napkins. Between work and the two-hour trip to LA, I didn't have time to cook or bake anything for the class, much less think of how to transport it from Indio to Woodland Hills. So I purchased gourmet chocolate chip pecan cookies to use as my subject. The white dishes are my own -- part of the Villeroy Boch "Dune" dinnerware we received for wedding gifts. Helene suggested that coffee or some beverage in the empty cup would complete the montage, but for a first go at working with props, I think I have a good start. Lots of practice is sure to come!
Thank you, Rachael, Jen and Gaby for organizing this class with Helene! And thank you, Helene, for flying out from Charleston to teach this class (and two macaron classes, as well!). It was great to meet other people as addicted to food and cooking -- and blogging about it -- as I am!
My fellow classmates were as follows:
Cathy - www.showfoodchef.com
Brianne - www.chefbri.com
Jenny - www.picky-palate.com
Mary - www.foodlibrarian.com
Kate - www.savour-fare.com
Kristina - www.formerchef.com
Sonja - www.activefoodie.com
Mercè - www.cuinaperllaminers.com
Shawn - www.kitchenfervor.blogspot.com
Carrie - www.deliciouslyorganic.blogspot.com
Marla - www.familyfreshcooking.com
Gaby - www.whatsgabycooking.com
Rachael - www.lafujimama.com