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A Snappy Weekend at Leiths

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A Snappy Weekend at Leiths

One camera, one food photographer and plenty of delicious produce later; I feel much more confident behind the lens. Hear about my experience of the two day food photography workshop at Leiths, with esteemed photographer Charlie Richards.

The idea of assembling a plate of food and taking a quick snap might seem easy, but it turns out, it requires more than just a quick click of the finger. When you realise that the lighting, angles, composition, props and colours all have a direct impact on how your image turns out, the challenge becomes slightly more daunting. You may know that your food tastes delicious, but to convey this through a lens is a different ball game entirely.

After experimenting with my cooking and camera for months, I decided it was time to learn the ropes from a professional. This is when I enrolled on the food photography weekend at Leiths with esteemed still-life food photographer, Charlie Richards Charlie has been in the industry for almost two decades and his impressive portfolio consists of shooting for a wide range of editorial, PR, marketing, packaging, design and advertising clients in the UK and abroad. With clients such as delicious. magazine and National Geographic under his belt, I knew I’d be in good creative hands.

Eleven of us arrived on Saturday morning cameras in hand, bright-eyed and keen to start snapping. The weekend began with a thorough introduction led by Charlie, familiarising ourselves with him, our fellow creative peers and some complex camera lingo. We devoured our croissants and coffee and headed into the kitchens to set up our first few shots. Charlie would demonstrate a few shots himself, guiding us through each element and giving us the opportunity to ask questions along the way. We would then go off in small groups, to our various sets, and start putting into practice the new techniques we had just learnt.

The wonderful Leiths chefs and assistants provided an abundance of glorious produce for us to shoot; from fresh fruit and vegetables to freshly baked brownies and meringues. We were spoilt for choice, which gave us the freedom to discover our individual styles and create our own unique shots. Through a combination of hands-on practice with the camera, and consistently regrouping with Charlie for insightful discussions, we learnt so much in a short space of time. I left on Sunday afternoon feeling inspired, invigorated and ready to shoot a plate to be proud of.

Top 3 Tips I learnt from Charlie

  • Lighting – North Eastern light is optimum for photographing food, especially around 3pm (weather dependent of course).
  • Composition – the rule of thirds; an image should be imagined as being divided into nine equal squares, like a grid, and any important compositional elements or “hero” ingredients should be placed along these imaginary lines or intersections.
  • Less is more – to start with at least. You can add as many elements as you want to a dish, but it’s harder to take them away (e.g. drenching a meringue in cream or coulis). Build your image up bit by bit and take pictures along the way, so you can always change your mind and go back to an original shot. Also, try to leave out unnecessary props that wouldn’t realistically be there in real life… I mean, who doesn’t love a linen or two, but sometimes they’re just not needed!

If you’re eager to get behind the lens, join Charlie on Saturday 26th – Sunday 27th September for his next two day food photography workshop.

Author: Liv Shaheen


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