Gourmet Garden Photo Shoot
As a food writer and blogger, I tend to think of myself as having a way with words. Photography? That’s a whole new set of skills in a new arena I know next to nothing about. Sure, I’m skilled in VSCO cam or Instagram on my iPhone, but when it comes to my Nikon DSLR, I’m still learning.
Food photography is something that’s always been of interest to me. When I started my blog and specifically began writing for Gourmet Garden, I knew I was on the right track to learning the ins and outs of food, writing and photography. After many hours spent working on websites, creating recipes, attending blogger conferences and tackling our social media pages, I recently had the incredible experience of entering into the exciting and foreign world of photo shoots and food styling.
Last week, the Gourmet Garden team headed to the studio of Chris Cassidy to photograph 30 new recipes for our website. We had 2 days to complete the task and it was a whirlwind of cameras, props and never-ending plates of food. Upon arrival, we unpacked many bags and boxes of props that could’ve filled an entire studio apartment. We laid out each prop strategically, from various wooden spoons to colorful, floral-printed dish towels to slate cutting boards and sparkling mixing bowls. As my boss put it, “You want to place everything out individually so you know where it all is and what it looks like.” I later learned the importance of that lesson, when under strict time constraints, I had minutes to find the perfect spatula to place next to a casserole dish. Turns out, there's a reason you want it placed next to the other spatulas, not across the table under a mint green towel.
Knowing only the basics about food styling, I was enthralled to see how truly dedicated our team was when it came to making sure each photo was exceptionally perfect. In our case, that meant taking tweezers to a spiralized zucchini dish and scooping out one bite of a layered spring vegetable dip to make the photo seem more appetizing. For some dishes, we snapped hundreds of photos until we got the perfect shot.
My favorite moment of dedication came during the last photo on our last day, a Ginger Cranberry Turkey Panini. Chef Shannon had made the sandwich and we had styled it for the photographer but something just wasn’t clicking on-camera. The food appeared somewhat lackluster. The cranberry filling wasn't spilling out in the right places and the bread looked dull and wasn't crispy enough. At first, we tried styling it differently but we quickly realized, with our patience dwindling, that it wasn’t the photography that was off, it was the sandwich. Without hesitation, Chef Shannon started making another panini from scratch, despite previously packing up all the ingredients. There were no questions or frustration - if making a new sandwich meant getting the perfect photo, that’s what we were going to do. And then, two sandwiches later, we nailed it.
To be honest, I could probably write three more pages filled with stories from this photo shoot. The endless cups of coffee we consumed, the perfectly dipped chocolate ginger rice krispie treats, the slicing of the award winning brisket... so on and so forth. Over those two days, I kept thinking to myself: “Is this really work?” When you can find a career with co-workers you love and work that's more fun than any job you've ever had, you know you've hit the jackpot. To find all 30 of our latest recipes along with the photos, click here.