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iPhone Food Photography Class with Patricia Niven at Ginger Whisk

In recent times I’ve abandoned my iPhone when it comes to taking photos for the blog or Instagram – the snaps just never feel high quality enough, and I don’t feel like I can really achieve what I want to on a phone. So I was really intrigued when I heard about a new food photography class taking place at the recently opened Ginger Whisk in Chiswick which would focus solely on how to get a good snap on your mobile. They describe themselves as a ‘creative foodie hub’ in West London offering prop hire, photography, studio hire, event space hire, production services and a cooking school – it sounded like a dream to me! You can find out more about the business in this little video:

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The class took place on a Saturday morning last month and was hosted by Patricia Niven who I was really excited to meet – she’s a well respected food and portrait photographer, and I couldn’t wait to hear her hints and tips!

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Now please bear in mind that the photos aren’t going to be as ‘high res’ as usual because, you guessed it, they will have been taken on an iPhone. But *spoiler alert*, I was really impressed with the quality of the shots I was able to produce.

Upon arrival we were all warmly welcomed by the ladies who got us strong cups of coffee (it was a Saturday morning after all!) before sitting down to discuss what we all wanted to achieve from the day’s course. There were a variety of reasons people wanted to up their iPhone food photography game, including bloggers such as myself, people who run supper clubs and wanted to make their food look more exciting, and marketers who wanted to entice people to buy their products through the wonderful world of Instagram.

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We tried out a few different shots with different food items, crockery, backgrounds and so on. It was definitely a case of trial and error, testing out lots of different things to see how we could improve the photos. For my job in PR, I’ve attended plenty of professional photography shoots and seen the photographers work their magic, but it’s all too easy to forget the things you pick up on the day of the shoot. These are the main things I learned at the class, which I always have to keep reminding myself:

  • Always consider where the light source is – shooting in natural light isn’t essential, but just think where the light source is coming from and how that will affect the photo. You can balance it out with white or black card if needed.
  • It’s fine to create some distance between the object you’re shooting and the background – this is an easier way of creating depth of field.
  • Adding ‘layers’ into your props will instantly make it look more professional and this is where I often struggle (i.e. tea towels, boards, cutlery etc) – I don’t feel like a natural food stylist and while I can take a good shot of something someone else has set up, I find it difficult to do that bit myself.
  • Apps are your friend! The course was a great opportunity to share photography apps, one of favourites is Big Lens which helps with blurring images where required.

Something else I found really interesting was how we could all take the same photo from the same angle, but the photos all ended up substantially different due to the make/version of the phones. It comes down to personal preference, but I like pictures to be quite sharp and pick out the features of the objects in front of it, which I found some other people’s phones to do really well with, but my iPhone fell down on. It’s certainly something for me to think about when choosing my next phone.

But overall I was really, really happy with my  final snaps:

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I still can’t really believe I took these on my humble little iPhone! I’ll still use my ‘proper’ camera for photos for the blog when I want high res imagery, but it has made me realise that my iPhone can do a perfectly good job for social media, I just need to take a bit of time to think about what I’m shooting and how.

It was such a great day, and while all of this was going on, the team whipped up lunch for us with different pastas and salads, and sparkling wine!

You can find out more about the Ginger Whisk business here and the cooking school here. There’s such a huge range of classes, from ‘easy entertaining for busy people’, to ‘pretzels and a pint’! And if you’d like to learn more about Patricia, her official website is http://www.patricianiven.com/ (warning, visiting this site will make you extremely hungry!!)

A big thank you to the team for such an insightful day!

 

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