A day at The Guardian: Food Styling & Photography with Rosie Reynolds and Jill Mead

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI studied photography at university. This resulted in two things: not wanting to ever take photographs again, ever, and an underlying lack of confidence in my abilities. I arrived as a probably insufferably cocky teenager that thought I could do what I wanted, and left feeling pretty wobbly about whether I had made a mistake in going in the first place. It took a long time to gravitate back to photography, and even longer to actually enjoying it, and thinking my work was any good. I still struggle with that last one from time to time, which I guess is the curse of being a creative person. I’m by no means saying that going to art school is a bad idea, it was just very different to what I was expecting and didn’t provide the springboard I had initially hoped it would.

It wasn’t until I met my husband (who is also a photographer) that I started to rediscover the joy that making pictures can bring.

I started this blog about six years ago, because I love to cook, and I love Scandinavia. Taking pictures of the food I make has always been a bit of a challenge, due to working as much as possible with natural lighting, in a dark kitchen the size of a postage stamp, but I like to hope that I have made a pretty decent effort, constantly improving to date. I do, however, always feel that it’s vitally important to keep developing, so I booked myself onto a food styling and photography Masterclass with The Guardian.

The course was taught by Jill Mead, a regular contributor to The Guardian’s own food magazine ‘Cook’, and Rosie Reynolds, food stylist and cookbook author.

Broadly, the aims of the course were to:

  • Understand what makes a successful image
  • Gain useful tips for successful food styling, and learn how to make real food look good for photographs
  • Understanding the role of photographer, stylist, prop stylist, and art director on a shoot
  • Take the time to do a practical assignment under the guidance of Jill and Rosie

On the day itself, a small group of us arrived at The Guardian’s King’s Cross HQ for 10am. I’d say the split in the group was around 50:50 of those interested more towards the photography or more towards food styling. Rosie and Jill greeted us warmly, and both gave presentations on their work, and how they ended up working in their respective fields. They then gave a demonstration of how they would approach a shoot, working with a pan of brownies, a very small area, and minimal props.

In the afternoon we spent time shooting our own work, with Rosie and Jill wandering between us, giving hints, and questioning (in a constructive way) our choices. We were given scones, fruit, and a selection of cloths, and crockery. Afterwards, Jill offered some critique of our work and some ideas of how we could improve in future.

I absolutely enjoyed the course, and it’s left me looking at images of food in a whole new light. I’m feeling really positive for future shoots! I’m sure the course will run again, and for anyone who is interested in food blogging and photography, I would really recommend it to bolster your confidence.

My top takeaways:

  • Most importantly: tell stories with your food. Make it look cosy, warm, and inviting.
  • The best styling (in my opinion, at least!) is minimal, natural and lived-in. Rosie exemplifies this type of styling in her work, so it was really curious to watch her work.
  • Less is more! Work out what you can take away from your pictures.  If shooting a cake, for example, set up the shot, and then remove slices.
  • Consider your own spin and visual voice

Here are some of my photos from the day, including my attempt at a Cook Magazine cover shot 🙂

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
My attempt at a Cook Magazine cover shoot.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
What it looks like ‘behind the scenes’.
%d bloggers like this: