Food Styling Workshop

One of the things I love about food and photography is meeting other like-minded people.  In mid-November a food styling workshop in Tauranga provided the perfect opportunity to combine a long weekend away catching up with friends in the stunning Bay of Plenty and attending Unna Burch from The Forest Cantina’s workshop at 145 The Strand with twenty or so other foodies.

Fellow foodies gather at 145 The Strand

Fellow foodies gather at 145 The Strand

Having met Unna at Cook the Books earlier in the year, I was feeling both inspired and nervous. The stark concrete floor at 145 provided a blank canvas; the grey, grainy concrete a contrast to the soft muted tones of the props and the foliage laden table.  This workshop was going to definitely going to extend the boundaries of my styling capabilities.

The props and foliage table

The props and foliage table

Eggs from The Forest Cantina's chickens

Eggs from The Forest Cantina's chickens

After an inspiring conversation about how she had gone from little known blogger to published food writer and photographer in under two years, Unna demonstrated the art of creating a photogenic food installation with her preference for overhead shots and lots of white space. Unna talked us through composition and how adding or removing one element could make a significant difference to the final image.

Unna's story

Unna's story

Demonstrating her technique

Demonstrating her technique

Unna's simple yet stunning piece

Unna's simple yet stunning piece

Next, the opportunity to create our very own photo worthy piece using props and foliage from the table and delightful sweet treats from Dani at Spongedrop Cakery in Mt Maunganui. Of course we were allowed to nibble on the stunning selection of cakes, slices and marshmallow and the decadent cheeseboard throughout the workshop too.

Playing with positioning of props

Playing with positioning of props

A close up

A close up

The final photo

The final photo

Fellow foodies' creations

Fellow foodies' creations

Who can resist this cheeseboard?

Who can resist this cheeseboard?

My biggest takeout from the workshop was always style the shot for the angle you intend taking the photo from. Personally, my preference for food shots is a 45 degree angle rather than overhead and I often take photos at various angles before deciding which one to use.  Take a look through The Foodie Inc Instagram feed; it really comes down to what angle works best in a given situation as often the dishes are plated by someone else.

Funnily enough my favourite shot from the workshop is actually a close up of the raspberry studded marshmallow – a minimalist shot where the food is the hero.

Spongedrop raspberry marshmallow - my favourite shot

Spongedrop raspberry marshmallow - my favourite shot

I hope you enjoy the small selection of photos taken at the workshop.  Until next time, have a great week.

Michelle


Bookchat: Wine, Food and Conversation

It was an intimate affair.  Enticed by wine, food and conversation – for many of us that’s what Friday nights are designed for – Cook the Books ‘meet the author’ event paired Unna Burch from The Forest Cantina with Turanga Creek organic wines. 

Enjoying a chat with Unna Burch

Enjoying a chat with Unna Burch

The chatter was lively.  The Pinot Gris, perfect with the roast salmon on herb couscous – recipes from Unna’s recently released book, ‘My Garden Kitchen: easy weekday and slow food weekends’. And who could resist the sweet indulgence of home baked biscuits, just like Mum used to make.

Roast salmon and herb couscous

Roast salmon and herb couscous

Fabulous organic wines from Turanga Creek

Fabulous organic wines from Turanga Creek

Surrounded by a small group of passionate foodies, Unna’s story was told from the heart. A self-taught cook, Unna declared her absolute obsession with food and photography – especially the use of natural light for capturing the perfect image. For six months she wrote up the recipes she shared with her family and friends, cooked and cooked some more, styled and photographed the book.  Her drive for perfection was such that when her Mum finally persuaded her to get a new camera part way through the cookbook process, she chose to reshoot many of the images.

Unna signing my copy of My Garden Table 

Unna signing my copy of My Garden Table 

Unna’s life is built of many layers – a sustainable family centred one.  Her first creative influences were her grandparents: her Grandma a brilliant home cook; her Grandad a keen gardener and photographer. Everyone in her family cooks except her husband Aaron and her Dad but then they probably don’t need to.  In “The Hilton” of chicken coops (built by Unna’s builder husband Aaron), it took 2 and ½ years to breed chickens from eggs laid under broody hens, to produce 10 different coloured eggshells – now that is obsessive! A life of sustainable living surrounded by trees and terraced vegetable gardens, with fresh honey from their own beehives – Aaron is a beekeeper and one day they hope to produce commercial honey too.

Unna’s advice to us all, Do what you love. Ensure a genuine feel to what you do!’

Michelle & Unna

Michelle & Unna

I look forward to participating in Unna’s food styling and photography workshop in Tauranga in mid-November; to hear how Unna has leveraged social media to share her story, her vision and turn her passion into a business. Spaces are limited for these workshops in Tauranga, Hawkes Bay and Wellington so check the website The Forest Cantina / SHOP for information.

Don’t forget to take a look at the behind the scenes video The Forest Cantina / my cookbook

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Michelle