Today I'm going a little off my usual subject matter, sharing some thoughts about food photography and also my review of a food photography workshop run by fantastic food photographer William Reavell that I was lucky enough to attend recently.
When I first started the Eats Amazing blog, I never dreamed of the places that it would take me or the skills that I would learn along the way. I had no idea that I would still be here, nearly 4 years later, with a dream job that grew out of my little hobby. I didn't know that blogging as a job was even possible, but I am very very glad that I took that first step, photographed that first lunch, wrote my first blog post and plunged into a world that I didn't even know existed! Blogging has given me so much, and I find that the more I put into it, the more I get back. I have learnt so much from and as a result of blogging and I continue to learn more every day.
If I had to pick some of my favoruite things about blogging, I'd say the lovely community of readers that has grown around my blog, on social media and in my community group, the amazing blogging community and my ever developing love of food photography. Immersed as I am in the world of food blogging, I see fantastic photography every day and am in awe of the skills of many of my blogging friends. I like to think that my own photography has improved enormously over the years, and though I have a very long way to go yet I am proud of what I have achieved so far - check out some of my earlier photography compared to more recent photos:
Homemade granola - a big difference in 3 years! I've got a lot to learn about food styling but I've definitely made progress. My photos are also a lot brighter these days, maybe too bright but I quite like them that way.
Another photo comparison, this time 2 years apart. I much prefer the lighting, styling and colours in the second.
Whilst my best advice for improving your photography is to practice, practice and practice some more, the blogging community has also played a big part in my endless quest to improve my skills, with so many bloggers freely offering advice, tips, link to useful articles and gentle constructive criticism when asked. One of the loveliest bloggers I know, Mel from Le Coin De Mel pointed me in the direction of William's photography workshops and I decided to treat myself to his latest course as a (very) late birthday present. This course is specially tailored to food bloggers, and covers photography in small spaces (eg kitchens), using different types of light and post production techniques.
I found my way to William's studio in London one Saturday morning a few weeks ago, and received a warm welcome from William, stylist Tara and my fellow food photography enthusiasts Mel, Marta, Jo, Alex and Gemma. Any nerves I may have had soon disappeared in the relaxed, informal environment and very friendly atmosphere. We introduced ourselves over coffee and croissants then got to work in a great practical session, which was all about working with light, including artificial light, to photograph food in a small space like a kitchen. This is an area that I have been desperate to learn more about, I love working with natural daylight but having a toddler around the place means that photography often has to take place at night, and of course in the winter months it gets even trickier to catch some decent daylight. Here are some of the things we covered:
- what types of lights to buy
- working with a flash or with continuous light
- tethering the camera to a laptop
- using a soft box (multiple diffusers are very useful to soften the light)
- working with (or avoiding working with) different light sources (ie daylight + artificial)
- where to position artificial lights for food photography, both with a soft box and without
- how to use your surfaces to bounce light around
- making sure that your light is coming from one direction only
- how to fill in dark shadows using reflectors or white card
- adjusting your white balance to suit the type of light
We had the chance to take our own photos every step of the way, though I tend to prefer watching and taking it all in to practice by myself later so I didn't take many on the day. I was SO impressed with the ease at which William took simply gorgeous photos and I came away feeling so inspired - though it highlighted just how much I have to learn, it's always good to find new heights to aspire to... one very distant day!
After a lovely lunch together (provided as part of the course), we sat down to learn about post production using Lightroom and Photoshop software. I found it really eye-opening, I had no idea that so much went into photography behind the scenes! It was really interesting to see how little tweaks can completely transform a photo. Here is one of William's original photos from the day:
And here it is after some tweaking, quite a difference!
I wrote lots of notes during the afternoon session and am determined to get my hands on a copy of Lightroom as soon as I get a new laptop (my old one is sadly on it's last legs). There was a lot of knowledge to take in from the whole day, so I was really pleased that I went along. The photo below that I took for one of my recent blog posts was taken after the course and I felt I was able to use a lot of my new knowledge during the photo shoot. I was particularly pleased with this photo as is was taken using the manual setting on my camera, something that I have shied away from using up until now.
Overall, I found the course to be stuffed full of the knowledge that was perfectly tailored to the needs of food bloggers. It was totally worth the course fee and I came away feeling completely inspired. William was so friendly and approachable, no question went unanswered and I was pleased to bits when he took the time to thoroughly answer my (somewhat unrelated) questions about cameras and lenses, complete with hand-written diagrams during our lunch break!
I'll continue practising and pracitising and I hope that my photography will continue to improve as I absorb and put into practice the new knowledge that I gained on this course. I am determined to take another of William's courses as soon as I can fit it in (he has several food photography courses available aimed at different levels of experience) and I would highly recommend this course to any food blogger looking to take their photography up to the next level. The next food photography course for food bloggers will be on the 1st October, at the perfect time of year for helping you get through the food bloggers photography nightmare of dark winter days and evenings! You can book the course here if you'd like to attend.
Disclosure: I received a discount on the course fee in return for an honest review, all opinions expressed in this post are my own.