I mentioned in my post Food styling At Leith’s School Of Food And Wine that at the end of the six week course we all took part in a photo shoot. This was with with professional photographer, Adrian Lawrence. It was the culmination of everything we’d learnt. Deciding on a photogenic dish, Finding props, shopping for ingredients, cooking on site or pre-preparing the dish and finally styling the photograph.
Split into two groups across two Saturdays, we each had allotted times for the actual shots. Roughly twenty minutes each on set, to get it right. I was delighted to find that there was a lot of input from the photographer, a steer towards which of my mountain of props, for my Blueberry Natas, would be most photogenic and which angles would work best for the dish I’d chosen. Allowing me to style to suit those angles. A client would often say how many shots they want as overheads or side angles, but this was a little freer and more about the best shot for the dish.
Having done a lot of fashion shoots I was well aware of how much hanging around there is on a shoot day, but much less prepared for how tiny the food set is. A table was placed along a north facing window, white board on clamps for light reflection and a blind to filter the natural light when the sun became too bright. The rest was down to Adrian. The camera, on a forward tilted tripod, was tethered to his lap top ( linked by cable so that the shots appeared instantly, full size on the screen) and after each trial shot, minute changes were made to the dish. Adding or taking away crumbs, Placing fine herbs, turning a prawn to be a better shape or in one or two cases swopping out props.
Then the final shots were taken, we had to be happy with the result, guided by Adrian and either Jenny Joyce or Sarah Cook, but the ultimate decision was ours. Then it was on to the next dish.
For much of the day the shots were reasonably straightforward, however the wonder of getting perfect ‘drips’ was revealed. The dish was a stack of pancakes with fruit, one single pour of syrup dripped down the edge and the shot taken. Then, without moving either the camera or the dish, another drip and a shot was taken. This process was repeated until the desired number of drips down the pancakes was achieved. The best drips were photoshopped together on the pancake photograph and a delicious drool worthy picture was achieved.
This was great experience in how a food shoot works, the overlap of roles of the photographer and stylist and the tiny alterations that turn a shot from ugly to beautiful.
- 250mls Coconut milk
- 3 Egg yolks
- 60g caster sugar
- 25g Plain Flour
- 320g packet Ready rolled puff pastry
- 170g Fresh blueberries
- 15g Coconut chips
- preheat the oven 190c, 170c fan, gas mark 6, 375f
- Grease 10 holes of a muffin tin.
- Place the coconut milk in a small pan and bring to just boiling.
- In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together until they thicken and lighten in colour. Add the flour and beat until smooth. It may look lumpy at first, but keep beating and it will smooth out.
- Add the coconut milk to the egg mixture whisking all the time.
- Return to a pan and gently heat stirring continuously until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon,
- Set aside to cool with cling film directly onto the creme patissier to stop a skin from forming.
- Unroll the pastry and roll out a little further until large enough to cut 10 4inch (10cm) circles.
- Place the pastry circles into the muffin tin and add 4-5, blueberries to each one, depending on the size.
- Place in the fridge for 30 mins
- Remove from the fridge and fill to ¾ with the creme patissier and place in the oven.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the custard still has a slight wobble. The tops may be slightly scorched, this adds to the flavour.
- Set aside on a cooling rack. When you remove the tarts from the oven they will be slightly puffed up, as they cool they will sink.
- Spread the coconut chips on a baking tray and bake at 200c, 180c, gas mark 6, 400f for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Watch carefully as the coconut goes from golden to burnt very quickly.
- Top the tarts with the remainder of the blueberries and coconut.
Adrian Lawrence gave me permission to post his photographs from the shoot on my blog. All his shots are attributed, the copyright belongs to Adrian Lawrence.