It’s been more than a month now since I came back home from few days spent in English countryside where I was attending a food photography & styling, visual storytelling workshop held and organized by Marte Marie Forsberg, an amazing and inspiring woman and photographer. Marte Marie is a person that from the moment you meet her, you somehow come under her spell, she is so full of positivity, life energy, beautiful inside-out and her personality and smile fill the room as soon as she enters. She makes you feel warm and cozy and enchanted by her stories, she has this way with words where from the most ordinary and simple things, she creates magical little stories that fill your soul with warmth, excitement and wish to hear more.
Besides all that, she is also a very talented food & lifestyle photographer and photos are her other way to create magical stories in her little English cottage, captures the mood, delicious traditional dishes, play of light and shadows, moments in time… You can find her website and blog ‘My cottage kitchen’ here
Besides Marte Marie, we were welcomed by the sweet Abbie Melle who is an Australian food & lifestyle photographer currently living in UK (you can see her website here). She was just the sweetest and made us feel so welcomed from the first moment we entered that stately Studland Bay house and all throughout our stay there, helping in so many ways and being always available and friendly. Her work is beautiful and I was very happy to meet another talented photographer who just happens to be such a sweet person too! 🙂
Before I start writing more about the workshop and sharing lots of photos, let me first show you the house where we were staying and were the retreat was held. I hope you can get a little bit of atmosphere of the impressive Studland Bay house and its gorgeous lush gardens through these photos… I honestly felt like I was in one of the Agatha Christie’s novels, specially when it would get dark outside and the sounds of rain hitting those old windows and wind howling through the corridors! It was wonderful really and we would get all cozy close to the fireplace talking about life, photography, food, dreams, work, past and future…
Oh and I have to warn you that this is photo-heavy blog post but I guess if you are here, that you are interested in food photography, travel photography, worshop etc…
We had another two lovely people who made all this experience even more special, Jade and Dan, from Fore/Adventure, who brought us to foraging adventures and showed us how much food/edible plants, herb and flowers there are in the nature just steps away but of course only if you know where to look. I love the whole concept of this retreat where we were involved in the whole process of finding, preparing, photographing and eating food. For example the plants and flowers we would forage and photograph, would become a part of beautiful salad for lunch that again we had a chance to photograph and finally taste. The same with lobsters and fish where we would follow the whole process from catching the fish, preparing it and enjoying for lunch.
So from the earth or the sea to our plates, appreciating and respecting every step of finding and preparing food that would eventually become our meal. That is what I love about this passion for food photography, being happy and excited for those glistening fresh cherries on the green market, a single head of kale or broccoli that looks like a little nature’s miracle, that fish just caught from the sea and ready to go in the oven with some lemon, herbs and olive oil, that lobster grilling on barbecue or potatoes and carrots that still have earth on them… Seeing beauty in food, all its shapes and forms and capturing it with the camera, that’s my work and passion and this workshop just confirmed that this is what I want to do (even if I kind of already knew that ha ha!).
When I decided to sign up for this workshop I really didn’t know what to expect, I mean I knew that it’s not like we were going to sit in the classroom and listen to the lectures but I didn’t have a clue how it’s going to be actually done. Well, if you are thinking about signing up for food & lifestyle or some other photography related workshop of this style, go ahead and do it! It will be one of the best experiences ever as you’ll get to spend time with people who share your passion and in a very relaxed atmosphere you’ll learn, talk, listen, observe, photograph and through all that you’ll find those puzzle pieces that were perhaps missing.
I think every one of us attending (and it was a small group of 7 people) went home with something different that stayed with us the most and that helped us to make a step froward in right direction. I want to point out that every single one of us had different cameras, different shooting styles, different reasons to be there but we all had the same excitement to photograph beauty whether it was a gorgeous flower glistening after the rain, an amazing chocolate caramel cake or fresh croissants on the breakfast table. So seeing beauty is the most important and not how professional and expensive your camera is. And other most important thing is to learn how to see light (we were all shooting in natural light only!) and use it to achieve the mood you want.
For me personally there were numerous things that stayed with me but let’s say one of the biggest moments were when I realized that if I wanted to achieve that mood in photos I was trying to, I have to use much less light and not be afraid of those shadows and contrasts! Sometimes even just a little bit of direct light coming behind the curtain is enough to create beautiful images and I was always nervous about not having enough light to shoot so that’s changed now. I’m feeling much more relaxed to shoot in darker environment and I’m loving it actually! 🙂
We have come to probably my favorite part of this whole experience! Meeting beautiful Linda Lomelino from Call me cupcake blog and seeing her bake, style and shoot her gorgeous cakes! Linda is Swedish food photographer and blogger, author of 4 amazing books (cakes, ice-creams, desserts, pies!!) and the sweetest person ever!
She creates art with her photos and is my biggest source of inspiration (look at her portfolio here), her work is also what made me fall in love with food photography as her photos and her blog were one of the first ones I discovered three years ago when I started to think about this type of photography for the first time. And even if she is very very popular on social media and has more than 700 K followers on Instagram only, Linda is very modest and always ready to help and answer any questions you might have, told you she is the sweetest! 🙂 I enjoyed so much shooting her and her delicious cakes and I took hundreds of photos so here are some that I liked the most…
It took quite some time for me to organize and edit all the photos from those few days in England and I think you can see that it was very difficult to make a selection as I wanted to share with you as much as possible but not bore you with hundreds of photos! I hope you enjoy this post and photos and please let me know what you think and of course if you have any questions, I’m always happy to hear from you whether it’s here in comments, messages on Facebook or Instagram or emails! 🙂
So, I talked a bit about natural light and shooting in darker mood. The same goes for shooting in light bright mood (not in direct sunlight!) where I learned to not be afraid of whites and contrasts, to look for different angles and with changing the shooting angles, discovering different little stories that photos can tell…
Shooting in natural light is magical and I never really wanted to shoot with any artificial lighting but was always worried that if I start doing this professionally I won’t be able to do projects and shoots like for example in restaurants or somewhere on location because what if it’s a cloudy overcast day, do I just say that we need to wait for a day with more light?! Of course, that’s not possible or professional so I’m feeling much more relaxed about that now that I saw that all those professional photographers also use natural light only and they just know how to use it really well to their advantage! So if any of you have similar fears or thoughts, let me tell you that there is no reason for it, natural light is the way to go in this type of photography and after a lot of shooting, shooting, practicing…after a while you learn how to SEE the light and use it to create the mood you want in your images.
Besides the light, I would say other most important thing is to create stories. That was one of the reasons I chose this workshop as I wanted to see how Marte Marie does that and creates that lovely mood that you feel you are actually there. I learned that a lot of it is in little things and details like a drop of cream, smeared chocolate, steam coming from the teapot, old postcards laying on the table, using light to create a cozy rainy afternoon mood or a bright warm summer morning… Good images should evoke emotions, memories and that is something to strive to…
One more thing that was very important for me and that I want to share with those of you who are interested is editing part of the whole process. For a while now I haven’t been really happy with the final version of my photos and was feeling kind of frustrated as I thought with a different editing they would look so much better. I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Photoshop for my editing and normally I was spending way too much time playing with contrast. saturation, shadows and highlights, brightness etc.. and the result was sometime ok but sometimes not so much. Not what I wanted anyway. It was eye opening to see and hear that almost everybody uses presets (basically with one click in ACR you apply the whole set of changes that create different effects to your photos) for their editing process and manually just adjust white balance, temperature, sharpness, so few things only. There are many presets available but one of the most popular are VSCO film presets (you can find them here) and than you just need to find what works for you and what style / effect you want to achieve with your images. I am still working on that but I already see the improvement and my editing flow becoming much easier and faster.
For all these reasons mentioned in this post, I couldn’t have chosen a better workshop to improve my photography and give me that much needed push and encouragement.
I hope I managed to share with you with my words and images how wonderful that experience was for me, how creative, uplifting, motivating, inspiring, emotional, life-changing really. If there is anything else you would like to know, you can write to me here in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on my Fb page.
To finish this long blog post, here are few more photos from the charming little fisherman town Swanage that was close to where we were staying…