I was blessed to have such an amazing summer! So many wonderful trips and fantastic experiences 😊. Here we are in November, about a week from Thanksgiving, and I am still playing catchup with my blog!!😳
This food photography workshop, which I attended in early October, is just one of those amazing experiences. I first learned of Clare Barboza from a friend in Seattle. Leslie, my friend of many years, knew about my passion for baking and had seen many of my photos on Instagram. Probably why she recommended Clare’s workshop to me 🤣😂🤣! I’m kidding! Leslie has always been very supportive of my crazy Insta adventures.
When I first began researching this opportunity, Clare was splitting her time between her two studios, one in downtown Seattle and the other in Vermont. She has since chosen to focus her business at the Vermont location, which better supports her family. I instantly fell in love with her photography style and decided, rather quickly, that I wanted to attend her weekend workshop where she would educate us on lighting, composition, and use of props in food styling. I had never been to Vermont, and it would be in the fall when everyone says it is gorgeous, so I signed up!
Brattelboro is a cute, little town that I really did not explore 😔 I did not leave myself enough time to poke around! I flew in late Friday and out early Monday, leaving two full days to absorb as much photography knowledge as possible (and hit a local climbing gym 😉, priorities you know).
Clare’s studio is beautiful, bright and full of fantastic props for her photography.
The left side of the studio is all windows, allowing the natural light to stream in during a large portion of the day.
Clare prefers natural light and the large set of windows allows her to alter the directionality as the day progresses.
It helps to have a fully functional kitchen when specializing in food photography
Clare’s husband helped her remodel the kitchen area, which is airy and bright. Pretty handy guy to have around!! And, check out the view from the kitchen window.🌳
She wanted to divide this large space, and used these vintage window frames. I loved the look of these, and had to snap a pic.
The other half of the studio was full of props! I was so jealous😂. I had a ball picking out surfaces of various colors and textures.
Clare’s husband made these boards, again, a handy dude!
She also had vinyl surfaces of various colors and textures to choose from for backgrounds.
Her collection of place settings!! Anything you could think of was available to enhance our scenes. Dishes, cups, silverware, bowls ….. I was in heaven💕
This is only a portion of the full collection
We would begin each day with a short lecture/discussion about a certain topic. If you have ever attended a photography class, you will have heard of many of these same themes.
The class getting ready to learn
Clare mixes concepts with actual hands on practice. I loved this! We had many opportunities to hone our skills. We began with a discussion on light and how to redirect it when needed. We also talked about composition, leading lines and depth of field. Many of these are topics covered in any photography class, but Clare gave us tips and ideas specific to food. And, she shared many of her gorgeous pictures and how she set them up.
Throughout the two days, we would be given five assignments. We could take as many pictures as we wanted, but had to choose one or two, from each task, for a critique on the last day. This was harder than it sounded! Sometimes I had many pictures I liked and others I couldn’t find one😲!
Our first assignment was to shoot a drink with backlighting. She provided us with different colored drink mixes, garnishes and sent us to work! At first I was not very comfortable just grabbing her supplies, and I was overwhelmed by so many options to choose from! I took over a hundred pictures and kept only 10! A theme that I would repeat many times over the course of the weekend.
I tried to challenge myself to create two different looks with this assignment.
This was a backlit, fresh and airy feel
Here I used the same drink but went for a more holiday, evening look.
Our next assignment was to photograph a charcuterie display. Clare set out a huge array of meats, cheeses, crackers and assorted goodies. This is my heaven!🥖🧀🍎
She demonstrated her thought process, how she would approach this shoot.
She told us the mood, or feel she was trying to create
She arranged, and then rearranged the components until she liked the composition.
She added props to tell the story.
And took test shots at various angles.
Now it was our turn, yikes!
This is just one of my many attempts
I decided to add some height by rolling the salami and placing it upright.
I don’t know if I succeeded in this assignment, but I was full, as we were encouraged to eat the cheeses 😋
Lunch was included in the price of the workshop, and I thought it was the charcuterie ingredients, but Clare made us a delicious, and much healthier option. Her soup was wonderful, and really topped me off! She also offered us a tasty dessert, chocolate!🍫
Our afternoon assignment was pasta! Clare provided us with the makings of an excellent pasta bar: several different shapes of noodles, two different sauces (red, and white), several garnishes, even bread for the pictures.
Our task was to put together an attractive dish and shoot it from above and at a 3/4 angle. Again, I took so many shots, and chose these three for the critique.
It was so fun to see what the class came up with! We were all very different from one another.
Day 1 had come to a close, and I know I was kinda beat. Being creative on demand is mentally taxing for this science based person 😊. We had also been rather passive all day and I was in desperate need of some physical activity!
I had researched climbing gyms nearby and found one in Hadley Massachusetts, only and hour away😳 Central Rock Climbing Gym was just what I needed that night!
Unfortunately they did not have auto belays, so I only bouldered. But I did send an inverted V4 😁 Very happy about that!
I will definitely spend more time here, if I get the chance!
The next day was to be the “tough” day. I didn’t really know what Clare meant by that, but found out fast! She meant that we would be photographing food that is notoriously hard to make pretty.
This second day highlighted the food styling portion of the class. We discussed choosing a mood or vibe, and how to select props that enhance, but not overshadow the food.
And, we went over the dreaded color wheel 😫 I say dreaded because I just struggle with that thing!
Our first assignment was salad photography and I decided to face my color wheel issue head on! That meant trying to figure out the complementary color thing. I have seen many green salads paired with blue backgrounds, and everyone else loves it.
And I hate it! A number of other students liked this. I did like the choice I made with the linen, as it has the red stripe that I liked with the strawberries, but the rest…. oh well, I will keep working with the wheel.
The last assignment for the workshop, Clare called “the canned soup challenge”. And this was tough! We were to take a can of soup and make it look appealing, somehow. If you have not opened a can of soup lately, give it a go, it may shock you how horrible it looks! All the “green” vegetables (like peas and beans) are a mucky shade of brown/green 🤢 One of the students chose a lentil soup and, I am not joking, it looked like dog food!
One advantage here is that I do make a lot of soups and stews and have photographed them for this blog. So I have practiced a bit already. Still, this was a tough one!
We were allowed to use some fresh garnishes like herbs or sour cream. I tied a bundle of peppers together to add some color too and chose a monochromatic palette in the hopes that the colors would appear more vibrant. At least I liked it more than my salad🤣
The last portion of the class was a group critique of the photos we selected. This is always helpful! It is also tough because it is so subjective, one person will like what another finds distasteful. My goal is to take it all in and improve as best I can💕
With that, the workshop came to an end! I loved it and would happily join another of Clare’s classes!! I learned so much and had fun. Her teaching style is so approachable, there was nothing you couldn’t ask her😊
I finally had some time to look at that legendary Vermont Fall Foliage that everyone raves about! I went for a quick walk in the town.
And another shot in downtown
I met up with two of the ladies from the class for one final dinner together.
We drank, we ate and we talked about how ugly canned soup looks!!😂😂😂
A big thank you to Clare Barboza for all the great lessons learned! 📸🥗😉