I recently got the opportunity to shoot for Hancock Gourmet Lobster again in studio. This was our fifth shoot together and I’ve really enjoyed the creative freedom of the shoots, as well as working with a brand that has so much personality and character to their food. For this shoot we were going to be photographing some big setups, probably the biggest I had ever done. There were three dishes that were on the shot list, one soup, the Chebeague Island Cioppino, and two large sampler platters. For this shoot I was responsible for not only the shots, but dish prep and food styling. This is where my background as a chef definitely came in handy.
I had a very clear vision in mind for what I wanted for these shots, that rustic, worn, Maine wood table feel, lots of rustic, antiques on the table, as if you were sitting down at Grammys house in the late summer to enjoy one last feast with the family before it was time to say good bye to summer. Of course, I was shooting this in November so it was a bit of a challenge.
First thing to do was to update my props. When I first started my food photography studio, I was still developing my style, and I bought alot of new, white dishes, as well as new linens and napkins. Over the years my style has evolved and developed and I’ve begun to change how I shoot and style my food photography. I’m lucky enough that my food photography studio is in Amherst, New Hampshire, where we do not lack for antique stores, so antique shopping I went. I lucked out and found a great deal of perfect finds, mesh strainers, silverware, tin pie plates, ect. Antique shopping is frustrating in a way because one minute you’ll be looking at a single fork for $10 and then you’ll walk a ways and find a bag of 20 forks for $1., so it feels a little like you can get taken for a ride. I found some “antique” cutting boards that I loved, but they were priced at $50 for a little 2×2 cutting board, which in reality is nothing more than an old piece of wood. This is why I do all my own wood working and table building now for my food photography, but thats a blog for another day.
With all our props ready and the studio good to go we got things started. Call me a mommas boy, but the foundation of my food photography was built with the help of my mother, so she was more than eager to step in an assist on this shoot, I mean, come on, it was lobster and seafood as far as the eye could see! I can’t even describe the smells that filled the studio from these dishes, the flavors and aromas of the lobster and spices was unbelievable.
It was definatly a challenge to be shooting dishes this detailed by myself, but I had a clear vision in mind when I started, I was working off a vision an idea which made the shoot go extremely smooth. The client stayed up in Maine, and we worked off a review system we had developed previously, where we shot tethered into the computer and proofs got automatically uploaded to Dropbox for review, with small changes coordinated by text, and larger approval items done over the phone. Its a great system in place at Earl Studios, which allows clients from all over the country to work with us and they can remain at their location without having to travel to the studio.
This is probably my best shot to date, and one I’m most proud off. It was without a doubt the most challenging, but it also shows how far this little food photography studio in New Hampshire has come, and how much we’ve grown.