I don’t think I need to say this but I’ll say it anyway: I have no clue about photography. My point-and-shoot camera broke in March and my photographer friend Matt offered me his old Nikkon D70 almost for free (a $108 donation to our Buddhist centre in exchange). So I researched a bit about Nikkon lenses and got a brand new Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. That’s how I made the jump to “serious” food photography, but sadly I have close to zero knowledge of talent in this field.
Lucky me, fellow food blogger Simon from The Heart Of Food organised a food photography class for those who, like me, needed some (or a lot of) guidance.
The class took place in Mumu Grill, a restaurant I’ve been wanting to go to for ages, and included a shared lunch with the double purpose of filling our tummies and putting the class theory into practice.
The food bloggers in the house (Ayana, Chanel, Melanie, Laura, and I) were surprised to see non food bloggers attending the course. They were surprised to see food bloggers, especially because at least one of them didn’t even know what the hell a food blogger was (the answer is: someone with a camera who never eats hot food hot).
Simon did an excellent job in explaining extremely useful aspects of photography with a strong emphasis in food. Unfortunately, the 5+ hours we spent there were not enough to dive into any of the topics but we did get good orientation about lighting, focus, composition, post-production, etc. The class was very well structured and dynamic, with “thinking” exercises as well as plenty of opportunities for sharing experiences and playing with our cameras.
As always, I didn’t use full manual mode, but fixed aperture instead. I did try setting the white balance manually for each shot and avoiding the automatic focus most of the times. That’s why the photos are terribly inconsistent. One of the biggest lessons I learned that day is that a photographer must be self-critical and not publish bad photos. I’ll do it when I start getting good photos, but for now…
Starters included bread and dips, plump Sicilian green olives, paper-thin jamón serrano served with thin toasted bread, Szechuan fried prawns with pickled chilli and soy, and duck and shiitake mushroom empanadas. I didn’t touch the bread but did try the dips which were nicely flavoured but not automatically recognizable. The jamón serrano (Spanish cured ham) was awesome both in flavour and texture. The prawns were good, but as well as the empanadas, would have been a lot nicer if eaten hot.
Bread and dips, olives
Szechuan fried prawns with pickled chilli and soy
Duck & shiitake mushroom empanadas
Mains were organic chicken with maple roasted sweet potato and spinach, and sirloin tagliatta with duck fat potatoes and greens. Both were outstanding; the chicken was juicy and tasty, and found a good match in its accompaniments. The beef was awesome, tender and moist. Mumu Grill’s sustainably raised grass-fed beef very well deserves another trip to the Northern suburbs. I skipped the potatoes even when the duck fat was a big temptation, and settled with the less harmful green beans and broccoli.
Chicken with maple roasted sweet potato and spinach
Sirloin tagliatta with duck fat potatoes and greens
Sides included a simple but effective cherry tomato and feta salad, and broccoli with lima beans and pine nuts. Laura got a very tasty-looking vegetarian platter.
Cherry tomato and feta salad
I think everyone was a bit disappointed to see that only 3 dessert platters were meant to be shared between the 11 of us. Especially because one of the platters contained nothing but fruit (an artfully cut orange, watermelon, pineapple, pear and apple). The other had ginger bread and vanilla ricotta sandwich (with poached rhubarb and spiced vanilla syrup), brown sugar pavlova (topped with fresh pineapple & passionfruit sauce) and chocolate mole tart (with hazelnut gelato). Back in my destructive eating days I could have polished one of those platters by myself but I’m more mindful of my health these days and had only fruit.
We were all pleased with the class but felt that it was too short to explore the vast world of food photography. I’d like a full weekend workshop or, even better, a bootcamp like the ones food bloggers from the Northern Hemisphere have yearly in Mexico.
Cost-wise I’d say the $90 were very well spent. Apart from the class, which was worth a big chunk of the price IMO, all food and non-alcoholic drinks were included. Simon will be running another class on August 6th, you can check out the details here.