My venture back into the world of food blogging has been a rather tentative one. I’ve spent a lot of time researching the right style for my blog – from how I want to present my recipes to a clear concise look and feel. It’s something that every blogger strives for – a clear identity. My first few posts just hadn’t been “there” and as such I delayed relaunching the blog for a while whilst I constantly tweaked the finer details. Then Yelp Glasgow announced a food styling and photography masterclass and I knew that I had to be there to see if I could find the missing piece of my blogging puzzle.
If you’re unfamiliar with Yelp here’s the stitch. When they post an event you need to RSVP “I’m in,” but that doesn’t guarantee you a spot all on its own. Yelp is an online community where you can share all the great places and hidden gems you’ve found and love in your city with other Yelpers by writing detailed, useful reviews. Occasionally the community get the chance to come together at some really awesome events, like this one, and you get prioritised based on your activity on the site. I’m quite an active Yelper so was thrilled to get the chance to attend this one as it’s sooooo up my street it’s unreal. Honestly, it’s like it was plucked out of my dreams.
The event took place in the cutest, quirkiest little café, Ocho, in the Speirs Wharf area of Glasgow. When we arrived I fell in love with the place immediately. The café overlooks a canal where vintage-looking long boats are moored all the way down the cobbled street. The sun was doing its very best to peak through the clouds and it made me picture romantic evenings whiled away with a glass of wine at one of the picnic benches by the canal.
I’ve digressed a bit thinking about that beautiful little street, so let’s get onto the masterclass in Ocho. Ocho itself is quite a small cafe adorned with an array of vintage bric-a-brac. It’s on the right side of cluttered, with everything from vintage perfume bottles to dolls houses atop any available surface. It’s all very shabby chic and it makes you feel right at home when you walk in the doors.
The structure of the event was explained to us after a quick mingle and limoncello spritzer (yum!): we would be visiting 5 stations throughout the course of the evening, each focussing on a particular aspect of food photography. After we had visited all five stations we would have a much better understanding of styling food for photographs. We had professional photographer Ally at our disposal to ask all those burning questions we had too. Excellent!
My first station was “background” – with the delicious looking pancakes above as our main subject. I’ll admit, I was feeling pretty clueless to begin with so this was the only kinda decent photo I got at this station. I was still trying to get used to the light and I have a couple of shots that just turned out way too dark or too blurry to use. After a few minutes my confidence grew and I asked for some cute bricks that spelled out “love” to add to the photos, but unfortunately it was time to move on when we got them and I didn’t get a decent snap. Did I nail the background task? Definitely not! But my confidence was growing and I did far better at the other stations.
Station 2 was all about introducing props to your photographs to tell a story. The dish was French toast, maple syrup and bacon this time and we were working with a really rustic setting. Our tips were to use interesting props that would add to the photo, not distract from the dish. By this point in the evening I was already snapping away at all different angles and readily playing around with loads of different set ups. I’m quite chuffed with how my favourite photo from this station came out.
Next up was the “lighting” station. This was my absolute favourite station of the night. So much so that I accidentally held up another group during change over. Oops! The station name may be self explanatory but this is actually where I learnt the most. I always thought capturing the light was THE thing to do, but the lovely Ally taught us to play with angles and even get behind the light to create shadow and texture in an image. He also spoke about taking a photo of the food (close up) vs taking a photo of the meal (zoomed out) which really made a significant difference to my photos straight away. I mean look at that avocado dish! I can’t believe I took that pic.
The last two stations were all about the details – keeping the plate clean, making sure everything looks perfect etc. I was on a role at the lighting table and really found the setting just perfect for photos at so many different angles so these stations were a little trickier but I managed to get a couple of photos I liked.
I’m so happy I got to take part in this. We had a delicious meal at Ocho after our masterclass that was the perfect end to an amazing event, but the main thing I’ll take away from this is definitely the tips from Ally. I got some awesome tips on how to tell a story through a plate of food and how different angles and lighting changes really make a difference. Most importantly I finally have a more concise style for my blog going forward and I can’t wait to start sharing all of my recipes with you now that I can do them justice in picture. If this is something you’re interested in and you see a masterclass pop up then I’d highly recommend it. I had so much fun and learned loads of new techniques while doing it. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy food and photography?
(I’ve attached a few of my favourite images from the night here – just because I’m so proud of myself!)