Photo Friday: Food Styling Workshop

by Shawnda on October 21, 2011

in Photography & Props,Travel

Food Styling Workshop

43 hours on the ground
6.5 in the air
2 trips to Trader Joe’s
1 trip to In N Out for a cheeseburger – animal style
12 hours at Todd & Diane’s faaaaabulous studio

Food Styling WorkshopFood Styling Workshop

2 big servings of Nancy's wonderfully addictive kale salad
207 photos
4 spring rolls
19 awesomely talented people
1 Kitchen Sink cocktail
1 suitcase half empty on the way in, completely full on the way out (see Trader Joe's mention above)

That was last weekend, in numbers. And this was last weekend, in pictures.

Food Styling Workshop

I had the opportunity to attend a food styling workshop led by Todd Porter & Diane Cu, the White on Rice Couple. There are few better ways to spend an entire Saturday than in a beautifully lit studio talking food styling and photography with two of our very, very favorite photographers. I absolutely love the passion and creative energy that Todd & Diane bring to a room. They love what they do. And Jason and I love what they do.

Food Styling Workshop

We spent a full day discussing the ins & outs of photography and food styling, shooting, working on styling techniques, learning how to build the perfect shot, and connecting. An entire room dedicated to prop storage, a large sliding garage-style door, a group of talented people eager to learn more, and beautiful southern California weather. Not exactly uninpsiring conditions :) I spent most of my hands-on time working on an area that I’ve wanted to improve on: backing away from the bright & happy whites and incorporating darker colors and mood.

Food Styling WorkshopFood Styling Workshop

Food Styling WorkshopFood Styling Workshop

And I’d be silly not to mention the food. Nancy, Rene, and Alex helped prepare some pretty outstanding food. The lunch spread was terrific: Red Rice Salad, Edamame salad, a dreamy Kale Salad with a super garlicky vinaigrette, Vietnamese-style pulled pork served with sesame crackers, and Katie’s Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Food Styling WorkshopFood Styling Workshop

And then there was dinner, a family-style Vietnamese spring roll celebration complete with table-top grills, fresh Asian herbs and vegetables straight from Todd & Diane’s garden, bottles of sparkling rose, and plenty of laughter and conversation. I’d actually never had a spring roll before much less cooked, built, and rolled my own right there at the dinner table. A little tutorial from Diane and we were all off and running. And cooking! And drinking! And laughing.

I came home renewed, recharged, and reinspired. With a new set of goals and a broader understanding for the art of styling.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Abby October 21, 2011 at 6:40 am

Stunning photos. Oh how I miss In & Out…drool.


2 Annie @ Annie's Cooking Lab October 21, 2011 at 8:23 am

Your photos are beautiful!


3 Christina October 21, 2011 at 9:44 am

I’ve been dying to take a food styling and photog course! White on Rice couple is simply amazing, I love their work and always hear great things about their classes. Hopefully one day I’ll make it out there for a shoot :)


4 taryn October 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

the lighting in there is just gorgeous!!!


5 Joanne October 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

Oh wow, this sounds amazing Shawnda! I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a weekend!


6 Chrissy M October 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

These are beautiful pictures! That sounded like such a great trip and opportunity to connect with other stylers and bloggers :)


7 Pam October 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Your photos are absolutely wonderful. They are so lovely they make the food look surreal!


8 Nancy@acommunaltable October 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm

It was so good to see you last Saturday!! I am loving the “darker and moodier” shots and can’t wait to see where you take it! So glad that you liked the salad and had fun!!!


9 Jen M O October 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm

I love your photos!


10 Gloria October 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm

It was great to meet you on Saturday! I love your recap of your California trip in stats. A trip to CA wouldn’t be complete without a stop at In N Out. Animal style is the only way to go.

A totally inspiring day to hang out with such talented people. Looking forward to seeing more “moody” photograhpy.

P.S. I hope Trader Joe’s makes it out your way soon.


11 Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen October 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm

These photos are gorgeous! What an awesome opportunity; I would love to take a food styling class.

Since you have a post on the subject of food photography, I was curious about your input on lenses if you don’t mind answering…I saw under your FAQ that you use both the Canon 50mm 1.8 lens and the 1.4. I have a very entry level DSLR (the Rebel XS) and want to upgrade from the kit lens to a 50mm. Do you find that the difference from the 1.4 to 1.8 is significant enough to justify the cost? I almost feel like it might be silly to get a lens that costs almost as much as my camera body, but don’t want to be disappointed with the 1.8 :)

Thanks for any advice or opinions!


12 foodiebride October 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm

The lens is way more important than the camera body. If your budget can handle the 1.4, get it. The quality of glass is better and you can really feel the difference if you hold the two lenses in your hands. The 1.8 is a tremendous value, though – it’s a good lens and it’s only ~$100. Since it was our go-to lens for quite some time, I do wish that we had just held off and saved a little longer for the 1.4.


13 Jessica October 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I am so.stinking.jealous! That looks like so much fun. And now I suddenly have a craving for cranberries and In N Out!

Your photos look awesome (as always) and I totally feel you on trying to move out of the “light and bright” box and bring in more mood and depth with darker tones.


14 katie @Epicurean Mom October 22, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Love the photos Shawnda!! I had such a fabulous time getting to know you and everyone else, also puting a face with the name ;-) hopefully we can do it again very soon!!



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