At the weekend I popped down to San Francisco for the day. It was meant to be longer, but then it worked out that the Minx’s end-of-year performance was on Saturday afternoon and of course I couldn’t miss that.
But I also couldn’t miss a food photography workshop held by New York Times food photographer, Andrew Scrivani hosted by the wonderful Contigo, a Spanish restaurant in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighbourhood.
Andrew is the master of a more painterly approach to food photography – he focuses on perfect lighting, simple propping and graphic styling to make the food seem to leap from the page and which makes you the viewer wish it would leap straight into your mouth. Truly it’s food porn at its most succulently droolworthy. Luxuriate in his portfolio here and you will see exactly what I mean.
I met Andrew before when he came and gave short workshop in Seattle (which for some reason I forgot to blog) and I was really excited to see and hear him again. Andrew used to teach before becoming a food photographer, and you can tell. He’s infinitely patient and very good at explaining what he does. He went through a greatest hits slide show in the morning, explaining in great detail how he manages to achieve his shots (and imparting a whole load of new knowledge that I hadn’t picked up during the first workshop). Then we had lunch featuring the most incredible paella known to man, followed by an hour or two to play, with props and food provided by the restaurant. For the last part of the day Andrew critiqued our work, which was scary – I never want anyone to see my outtakes, let alone a professional food photographer, but obviously incredibly useful. And it was almost more fascinating and inspiring to see what other photographers were able to achieve with the same lighting, food, props and equipment, just by looking at things differently.
We learned that sometimes it’s good to go in close.
And sometimes we should look for shapes and colour.
Drips and oozes are always good.
Or else you could just focus on tiny details.
Flares and reflections on bottles add shape and interest.
And sometimes food is just too darn ugly, however much you try and brighten it up with props and garnishes and bright sunlight.
Make sure your board is clean and free of grease stains and salt (now you tell me).
And sometimes harsh backlighting is your friend.
When in doubt about which picture to choose try a diptych (and yes I fell in love with a pot of pink curing salt).
A little bird tells me that Andrew will be giving a workshop in Seattle in June. Details have not yet been published but follow him on Twitter @andrewscrivani or on his blog Making Sunday Sauce for news. You won’t regret it.