Soul Food

The most wonderful thing about this food photography world that I find myself being increasingly drawn into, are food photographers themselves. For some reason which has so far eluded me, they are among the kindest, most generous, most creative and most inspiring people you could wish to meet, and none more so than Luisa Brimble and Aran Goyoaga.

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Aran was ably assisted by Luisa’s friend Adriana

As you may know Aran has recently moved to Seattle and started hosting workshops in her beautiful downtown studio. When I heard she had invited Sydney-based food and lifestyle photographer Luisa Brimble to host a workshop I jumped at the chance to attend – Luisa has shot for The Simple Things, Frankie and Kinfolk amongst others and has recently founded her own magazine in Australia, Alphabet Family Journal, because that’s what you do when your home magazine market is small and opportunities are limited.

She is also a firecracker in person – bursting with life, wit and enthusiasm – with an infectious energy and a warm, generous smile; and her photography is a dazzling combination of graphic simplicity infused with Aussie sunshine, exuberant colour and vibrant personality.

Luisa is particularly known for her overhead shots of people feasting around loaded tables, and she’d promised to give us a demonstration of how she puts such shots together. All this, plus Aran’s amazing food styling and the incredible beauty of the studio – honestly, people, it’s just like living in Instagram – made for a weekend that I won’t easily forget.

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

While we chatted about photography with Luisa, and she told us how she had built her career through hard work, focus and determination (and I’m sure enormous talent and bucketloads of charm did no harm), Aran worked her food styling magic.

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Luisa then climbed her ladder and starting directing the photo shoot – as an ex-wedding photographer she is adept at getting the most out of her models. I, by contrast, just wish I could spritz the people I’m photographing with olive oil and manipulate them with tweezers, which is probably not the best approach.

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

And this is the beauty that emerges when two huge talents collaborate (just a phone shot from me as there wasn’t room for us all up the ladder).

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Luisa then did one of her trademark ‘person with armful of flowers standing on a chair’ shots. Seeing her work with, and get the best out of, people was one of the most inspiring things about this weekend.

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

See what I mean about living in Instagram?

We then got a chance to do our own photography and styling.

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

And it was lovely to have tame and now fully-trained hand models available.

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Everything – food, props, light – was so darn BEAUTIFUL.

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

 

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Later that weekend we had the opportunity to watch and shoot Aran as she baked and styled a galette. It’s amazingly soothing watching her bake. She has a quiet serenity and focus about her which is quite mesmerising, particularly considering she was surrounded by loads of cameras when these shots were taken. (NB I am not remotely like this when I am cooking, but I think you probably guessed that already).

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

I learned a ton over the weekend – about photography, food styling, how to build a photography career, build rapport with models and how to bake with methodical calmness. But also, and more importantly, I learned lessons from two very different women about how to live life with enthusiasm, grace, focus and immense and inspiring style. Well worth the price of admission I’d say.

Soul Food - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

And yes, I shall forever feel inadequate that my eggs are not arranged by colour.

Aran is planning to bring more amazing photographers to Seattle in 2015. Check her blog or social media feeds for more workshop details in the New Year.

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Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This year we decided to start our family vacation in Rome, and I went back for the first time since working there for six months way back when.

I had lived in an apartment in Campo de’ Fiori in the heart of the medieval Centro Storico, which I adored, and this time we decided to rent a really cute Air BnB apartment in the same neighbourhood. One of the things I love most about Campo de’ Fiori is the magnificent market which fills the piazza every morning and is a paradise for food and street photography. It was great just to hang out in the mornings watching the stallholders and restaurant owners set up, before the serious sightseeing of the day began.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Come for a little walk with me through the twisty streets of Rome and the market of Campo de’ Fiori.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Our apartment was in this little cobbled street between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Farnese.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Fountain in Piazza Farnese

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

We breakfasted every morning in the Caffe Farnese, five minutes from our apartment. Here is the Minx writing her vacation journal (she became markedly less diligent the further we got into our holiday).

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The market was a delight.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Campo de’ Fiori means ‘field of flowers’ and that still rings true today.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Rome was gripped by World Cup fever when we arrived, which lasted only until Italy’s ignominious defeat at the hands, or more accurately teeth, of Uruguay, which we watched in one of the open air restaurants in the piazza.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Even my old friend, the statue of Giordano Bruno, which gazes out over the piazza at the site where he was burned to death, was subdued that evening.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Unfortunately I made a terrible parenting mistake by buying Mission Rome for the Minx. It’s a sightseeing scavenger hunt book which I thought would keep the Minx vaguely amused if we took in a few sights.

Instead I refer to the review of the book I wrote on Amazon. My love/hate relationship with this book runs very deep.

Do not on any account by this book! *****

If you want to have a pleasant, relaxing, wine-fuelled Roman interlude that is… I bought this for my nine-year old daughter and then spent 3 days being marched all over Rome while she figured out every possible permutation of itinerary and points scores (also tremendously good for her math). Half of me was thrilled she was so inspired and half of me wanted to take the book to the very heart of the Colosseum (4 points), stab it, burn it and gouge its eyes out .

This book is like sightseeing crack, perfectly pitched at 3rd to 6th graders, and has pulled together some really interesting facts and cool things to locate, which kept the interest not just of my grade schooler but also of her exhausted parents. Thank goodness we only had three days to spend in Rome and very good walking shoes. Seriously you buy this book at your peril. Caveat emptor.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s the Minx scribbling in the accursed book and here’s the Husband just after telling some heinous lie to the Bocca della Verita.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I think we stopped to talk to pretty much every cat in Rome.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And, as has been the case since time immemorial, the cobbled streets of the Eternal City were filled with gladiators and nuns.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

It was lovely to be back.

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Mixed Fruit Clafoutis

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Many, many eons ago, while I was studying French at university, I spent a year working as an English assistant in a couple of schools in the South West of France. Aside from this being one of the most enjoyable and formative years of my life, it was also remarkable from a culinary perspective. The other teachers were incredibly kind (mindful I think of their own time spent as French assistants in England) and would invite me often to their houses, and I also ended up giving lots of private English lessons, of the ‘chat in English to little Jean-Pierre for an hour, then join us for a dip in the pool and supper’ variety.

It was a lovely life, and also meant that I ended up dining in French people’s houses once or twice a week. Which was eye-opening. You learn a lot by seeing what people eat for reals – not in a restaurant or in a cooking class and when they’re not particularly trying to impress.

And I learned that in the South West of France, in summer, people eat a heck of a lot of clafoutis. Mostly made with cherries, but occasionally with the other stone fruits and berries of summer. And not surprisingly, because clafoutis is both super delicious and very easy to make.

If you search for ‘clafoutis’ on this blog you’ll see that it’s something I make a lot in the summer, and in fact I’ve posted the recipe before. But I made some beautiful mini mixed fruit ones last summer and never posted the pictures, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I post the recipe again, with some adaptations for minis.

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

First up get yourself a quantity of the most beautiful fruit you can find – cherries, apricots, currants, peaches and plums all work well. I used a mix of red and yellow cherries, apricots and redcurrants. The exact amount is a bit difficult to specify but should be enough to cover the bottom of the dishes you will be using. Clafoutis can be made in any shallow ovenproof dish. This recipe makes enough for the large dish shown here or for approximately 6 largeish ramekins.

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

 

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis
Serves 6
Mini mixed fruit version of the traditional French clafoutis
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. Enough fruit to cover the bottom of your dish(es) in a single layer
  2. Enough butter to thoroughly grease your dish(es)
  3. 5 tablespoons all-purpose/plain flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  6. 5 large eggs
  7. 2 cups/500ml/16 fl oz single cream or half and half or creamy milk or a mixture of milk and heavy/double cream, depending on how decadent/slim/rich you’re feeling
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  9. 2 tablespoons dark rum, kirsch, Armagnac or maraschino (optional)
  10. Enough granulated or powdered sugar to dredge thickly when cooked
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180degrees C/Gas Mark 4
  2. Remove stems and pit fruit if necessary. The French often leave the pits in cherries as they're said to add an additional almond flavour to the batter (but warn your guests!) If using apricots or larger fruits slice them in half.
  3. Slather your dish with butter and add the fruit in a single layer
  4. In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients
  5. Warm the milk or cream until barely simmering (be vigilant, it mustn't boil)
  6. Whisk the eggs into the warm cream
  7. Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until well-blended
  8. Stir in the the vanilla and rum etc. if using.
  9. Strain the batter over the fruit (very often I can’t be bothered to strain it) to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. You should still be able to see the top of the fruit over the batter.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes for small clafoutis, 40 minutes for large until golden round the edges and firm to the touch
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Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here are my little clafoutis showing the depth and proportion of batter to fruit you should be aiming for. Clafoutis is very forgiving, so make them in any shapes and sizes of cookware you have to hand until you have used up all your batter. 

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

 Here are my lovelies puffing up and firming up in the oven. 

And here they are all ready to eat. Serve with some chilled cream or creme fraiche if you’re feeling luxurious but it’s really not at all necessary. 

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Dear hearts I am back!

If you haven’t been following along on Instagram (Sheesh, Paola, we have LIVES), we’ve just been on a family vacation to Rome, Sardinia, Corsica and an afternoon in England. And it was lovely. Though at the same time I am glad to be back sleeping in my very own bed for a bit and able to enjoy the rollicking Seattle summer.

I do of course have many, MANY photos to share with you, together with more from Tuscany (you didn’t think you’d be getting off THAT lightly did you?). You have been warned.

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Weekend Link Love

InstagramApril (5) 2014

It’s been a week of unseasonably hot and sunny weather here in Seattle, with lots of gardening (or at least gardening plans), grilling on the deck and glorious golden hour walks by Green Lake. Also frustrating problems with technology – updating the operating system on my phone required it to be taken back to factory settings (seriously Apple?) and it still hasn’t fully recovered from its ordeal (and neither have I), and my computer has been most unhappy.

Last weekend I attended a class at the Pantry at Delancey on Square Foot Gardening which was hugely inspiring and went to the Seattle Tilth Edible Plant Sale  (one more day tomorrow)  yesterday evening to buy new plants for my raised beds. Stand by for Instagram pictures! The botanical theme continued with an evening at The Little Shop of Horrors. A really good production with a uniformly excellent cast that I highly recommend to Seattle folk.

Tacos - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Finally it’s also been a very taco-y week. I had great fun running round Seattle shooting Seattle’s Ten Best Tacos for Zagats and discovering some seriously good taco trucks. And this morning the Minx and I took a kid’s taco-making class at the Pantry. Above is one of the tacos we made from scratch, while the Minx got absorbed in her guacamole. I’ve just invested in a serious tortilla press. Heaven knows where I’m going to put it.

Tacos - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And finally a few fun links:

Deep clean your Facebook page. Have added this to my To Do list.

Apparently walking enhances creativity, I’d be out there if it ever stopped raining today.

My friend Tina at LifeInSketch is hosting the most amazing competition to win a trip to New York and meet A-list interior designer Vicente Wolf (whose new paint colours are GORGEOUS). I won’t be able to enter as I will be in Europe on the day in question, so now you guys stand a chance. Ha!

Yet another fabulously good photography portfolio.

On the blog this week I made Candied Kumquat Panna Cotta from Peasant in NYC and we learned about John Ruskin through the medium of kitchen cabinets.

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Monday Link Love

Instagram April 2014  (4)

After a weekend of hot cross buns and Simnel cake, last week was a week of outdoor eating (yay! fabulous Seattle spring), shooting tacos (I had another photography job y’all!) and more lilac, blossom, rhubarb and daisies than you could shake a stick at (what does that even MEAN?).

I didn’t get to links over the weekend, so here are some to set you up on a Monday morning. Very photography-oriented this week I’m afraid.

These musical instruments photographed from the inside are quite magical. I hope an architect is inspired by them. I want to live in a violin.

Naomi Robinson from Bakers’ Royale is writing a series of posts on food photography. Part 1 is how to develop your style and Part 2 is on composition. More to come I believe. I love her stuff.  

Do happy people take happy photos? Twitter is giving a team a research grant to find out. I know my mood certainly affects my photography.

Here’s my pal Andrew Scrivani talking about how to market yourself as a photographer.

And finally some really inspirational food and travel photography portfolios from Jonothan Woodward, David Lazar and Gentl and Hyers.

 

Last week on the blog we talked about a really cool composting system and went to visit designer Michele Varian’s apartment. I am going to try and be a better blogger this week, though the temperature is apparently set to soar into the 80s, so don’t quote me on that. But we’ll start with a great recipe to come later today.

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Weekend Link Love

Double Rainbow Over Seattle - photography by www.paolathomas.com

It’s been a week of sunsets and showers, flowers and sunshine, hot cross buns and Cadbury’s Mini Eggs – and the most extraordinary rainbow that I think I’ve ever seen. And you really can’t get much better than that. (Also it’s astonishing what one can do nowadays with the pano feature on the iPhone).

InstagramApril2014

I will be spending the weekend baking a Simnel cake and hosting a traditional Easter Sunday lunch with lots of roast lamb for some British friends here.

Simnel Cake photography by www.paolathomas.com

If you want to do the same, my recipe for Simnel cake – the traditional English Easter cake – is here.

 

If you want to make dye eggs using natural dyes, my friends Leigh and Pamela had fun this week.

This his and hers food photography is insanely beautiful.

Saveur magazine came up with this list of the best food blogs around. I’m looking forward to looking and drooling.

Brene Brown and Chase Jarvis did an amazing interview about Unlocking Your Creativity  which is worth watching in its entirety.

Here’s a little post on capturing authentic ‘moments’ with photography. I always think my photography is too contrived, so this is something I’m striving for.

And here’s an interesting piece on how Facebook manages its filtered feed, though not terribly helpful for those of us trying to get even a few organic viewers to our Facebook pages.

 

On the blog this week, we discussed New Trends in Kitchen Design, read Don Draper’s Tarot Cards and worked out how Mad Men is going to end, visited Bunny William’s amazing New York shop Treillage and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, and had a stressful time baking a Roller Skate Cake.

Hope you are all having a wonderful and relaxing weekend.

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Weekend Link Love

 

madmenseason6

 

Seems I’ve been a lazy Instagrammer this week – I’ve been feeling in a bit of a photography rut – so instead of my Instagram feed, here’s an absolutely gorgeous MadMen graphic. Wouldn’t mind this on my wall.

The return of MadMen is of course going to be the highlight of my weekend (though we might also make it out for a family photography/cycling trip to the tulip fields). Here’s a gently spoilerish review of the first eppy and an overview of the college course I’d love to do.

To try and get out of my photography rut I will be perusing #Photography – a fab-looking online photography magazine by two photography graduates in the UK and following these peeps for inspiration (one day I want to be on this list).

I know I still have to share with you the story of the Minx’s latest birthday cake, but we might need to try these amazing cupcake shoes next year.

And I would imagine that this article on how to beat procrastination might be useful for us all (I can’t tell you how many times I opened Facebook in the course of putting together this post). Fingers crossed I’m not the only one for whom it resonates.

 

On the blog this week, we’ve discussed flower arranging in NYC, a fabulous food photography workshop I attended, photographing donuts for Edible Seattle and I shared a recipe for chocolate truffles (which are currently sitting in my fridge singing softly to me).

All you creative people out there, what advice do you have for getting me out of my photographic rut? I just don’t feel that my photography is improving much anymore. All advice gratefully received.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA

Miele USA, manufacturers of some of the world’s best home appliances, and lovely sponsors of #BlogTourNYC, were very anxious that we should guess the new colourway that they would be unveiling at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com

So anxious in fact that they had given us each a clue in the form of a little box containing two luscious Vosges chocolate truffles. One of my truffles was a subtly intriguing and very delicious smoked paprika flavour, so I somewhat embarrassingly guessed Smoked Paprika for the new colour. However, after discussions over breakfast we realised that we’d all been given different truffles and that the name of the new colourway must in fact be Chocolate Truffle.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com

And what a truly delicious colourway it is – subtle, sexy and smoothly contemporary and just as rich and glossy as the finest chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com

The above is the only picture I managed to grab at the Home Show that looks halfway decent – the Miele stand was crowded that day. But funny to see me, my comfy boots and some of my fellow Blogtourists reflected in its glossy finish.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com

What you are looking at is the state-of-the-art Miele Combi Steam Oven in the new Truffle finish. As someone who bakes bread with a cast iron pan of water steaming on the oven floor, there is a lot I would do to get hold of one of these babies. The water reservoir for the steam is cleverly hidden behind top panel so no oven capacity is sacrificed and the control panel has step by step cooking settings for around 100 different meat, vegetables, fish and grains, meaning I would never have to buy a cookbook again! Possibly.

Anyway, as a little hommage to Miele’s new colourway I decided to make some chocolate truffles.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com

Chocolate Truffles
Yields 30
Quick and easy chocolate truffles with paprika, coconut, pistachio, sea salt and meringue coatings
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 275g/10 oz dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)
  2. 250ml/1 cup heavy (double) cream
  3. 50g/3 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
Assorted Toppings
  1. Cocoa powder
  2. Coconut flakes/dessicated coconut
  3. Crushed meringue
  4. Finely chopped pistachios
  5. Hawaiian pink sea salt
  6. Smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Break the chocolate into pieces (I used Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate Wafers) in an ovenproof bowl.
  2. Bring the cream to the boil (watch it like a hawk as it flares up quickly) and then pour it over the chocolate.
  3. Stir the mixture gently until the cream is fully amalgamated into the chocolate and you have a smooth chocolate 'sauce'. It will look curdled and scary to start but keep going.
  4. Leave to cool for 2 minutes and then add the butter in two stages, stirring gently until fully incorporated.
  5. When you have a smooth glossy ganache place it in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight until the ganache has set firm.
  6. Remove the ganache from the fridge about 15 minutes before you want to finish the truffles. Using a 1 tablespoon scoop form small balls and finish rolling them between the palms of your hands so the surface melts slightly.
  7. Dust with cocoa powder or use your favourite toppings. I used cocoa powder, cocoa powder topped with a touch of pink sea salt, cocoa powder with a dab of smoked paprika, coconut flakes, finely chopped pistachios and crushed meringue shells.
Adapted from Unwrapped - Green & Black's Chocolate Recipes
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Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com

I was curious to experiment with smoked paprika for these truffles. I coated some with cocoa powder and added the merest dab of smoked paprika on top and they turned out to be rather smokily beguiling.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com

And don’t you think Smoked Paprika would be an AWESOME colour for kitchen appliances? MieleUSA please make this happen!

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Cover Girl–Edible Seattle

Talking, as you probably weren’t, of my burgeoning food photography career, there was much excitement in da house a few weeks back when I was asked to step in and shoot the cover for the late Spring edition of Edible Seattle.

Cover Girl-Edible Seattle photography by www.paolathomas.com

I worked with editor Tara Austen Weaver to realise her vision for the cover and the inside pages, and in the process we learned a lot about styling and preparing jam doughnuts (or, if you really must, jelly donuts).

Cover Girl-Edible Seattle photography by www.paolathomas.com

Cover Girl-Edible Seattle photography by www.paolathomas.com

For example, it’s quite tricky to style a tower of three doughnuts so it doesn’t look like a little nodding donutman.

Cover Girl-Edible Seattle photography by www.paolathomas.com

We ended up remaking the doughnuts and cooking them for slightly less time, so that they were softer and more pillowy.

Here are few more images from the shoot that didn’t make the cut.

Cover Girl-Edible Seattle photography by www.paolathomas.com

Cover Girl-Edible Seattle photography by www.paolathomas.com

Cover Girl-Edible Seattle photography by www.paolathomas.com

However if you’re looking for a recipe, it’s not mine to give. It’s from Beth Maxey and you’ll have to buy the more recent edition of Edible Seattle to get your mitts on it. It does make truly excellent doughnuts (it is possible I sampled one or two), and they’re not half as tricky to make as you might have imagined.

Believe me Tara and I know.

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Food Photography Workshop–Saint Simons Island

So while I was on blog hiatus I did yet another food photography workshop with the brilliant and captivating Helene Dujardin, Senior Photographer at Oxmoor House and of Tartelette blog fame.

Food Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

This time the focus was not so much on still-life food photography and composition as in the previous workshop I attended but instead gave us a chance to photograph food in action.

Helene had teamed up with the incomparable chef John Ondo of Lana Restaurant in Charleston, and while Helene talked about food styling and plating, lighting for food photography and gave us invaluable insights into her day-to-day working relationships with her styling team and editors; he whipped up fabulous gourmet meals, all the while discussing his cooking techniques, answering questions and letting us take as many photos as we liked.

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Helene and John had rented a house by the beach on Saint Simons’ Island about an hour out of Savannah, Georgia,  and the workshop included a day in Savannah, a field trip to the cute and exceptionally photogenic Back in the Day Bakery and dinner on the outside terrace of a Savannah restaurant. I absolutely adored Savannah, of which more in a future post, while the Bakery also was a dream to photograph and also warrants a separate blog post. Chaps, I have so much pent-up bloggery to share with you!

John showed us how to make gnocchi with a couple of different sauces.

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

While Helene got us styling salads, pasta and bruschetta (please ignore the shitty prop styling and iPhoneography – the bruschetta below is just placed on a garden chair -  and look at the FOOD!  All of these sessions ran over as Helene had so much good stuff to impart).

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Then John prepared one of the most incredible hunks of herb-encrusted lamb it has ever been my pleasure to experience.

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

Even the lamb though paled into insignificance against the fact that Libby was there again. Libby acted as the workshop’s sous-chef, photographer, general factotum and mother hen and is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people you’ll ever meet. Nothing is too much trouble for her.

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

She is also one of the funniest people I know and yet again had me weeping drunken tears of laughter well into the wee small hours.

In fact, despite the beauties of Savannah, the fabulous education, the gourmet meals, the lovely beach, excellent wine and exquisite lamb, it is the laughter and friendship which stick with me from this workshop.

Chaps, these people are utterly bananas. In a very, VERY good way.

Photography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.comPhotography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.comPhotography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.comPhotography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.comPhotography Workshop-Saint Simons Island photography by www.paolathomas.com

I was moved to write the post as I notice from my Facebook page that there are still a couple of spaces left on Helene and John’s next workshop in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. If you’re into food photography, want to learn a ton of good stuff AND have the most incredible fun time imaginable I can’t recommend this highly enough.

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