Food Photography workshop and getaway

Belated Happy New Year everyone.

So what was your New Year’s resolution?  I haven’t had a ‘resolution’ per se in years – mostly because I NEVER kept it.  In fact, declaring something a resolution almost guarenteed I wouldn’t ‘achieve’ it. So nowdays, I tend to look at what I want to focus and improve on in the upcoming year, rather than giving my self a specific goal or deadline – it may be semantics, but it seems to work better for me.  For 2012 I’ve decided to focus on my photograpy.

I actually got an early start. In November, I read on Helene Dujardin’s blog, Tartelette that she was holding a 3-4 day Food Photography workshop. For those of you who are not familiar with Helene, she’s a wonderful food blogger and photographer who most recently photographed Virginia Willis’ book ‘Basic to Brilliant  Y’all’.   I waited a while, trying to decide did I want to spend the money at holiday time and when I went back, the workshop was sold out- bummer!!  So how excited was I when I saw that Helene was holding a one day workshop in Charleston SC ?!  woohoo !!  I’d never visited Charleston, so I decided to attend the workshop and take a vacation day to make the trip into a little excursion.

I stayed in the historic area and was totally smitten.  I arrived Friday afternoon, dropped my bags, put on my walking shoes and headed out – I only had a few hours of daylight.  I loved wandering through shops and gallerys- and especially the little paths and entrances I stumbled upon. I only scratched the surface, but I can assure you , I’ll be back.










Friday night I enjoyed dinner at ‘Cypress’, which had been recommended by my step brother.  I ate at the bar, since I was on my own, and was treated to some great conversation with a local 88 year old gentleman, who’s lived in Charleston all his life. As I ate and he drank his tequila on the rocks, he shared all best places to go in Charleston.  What fun!

Saturday morning, I started my day with breakfast at ‘Toast’.  The food was great and the service was fast and friendly – what else could you want in a breakfast spot? My server even brought me coffee to go –  and best of all, it was a block from my hotel.

I then headed over to the Heirloom Book Company for the photography workshop.  It’s a great new and vintage cookbook shop. It also hosts book signings and other foodie events. What a cute cozy spot right on King Street.







I was the first student to arrive and Helene was immediately welcoming.  Shortly, I was joined by the other students – other bloggers, a cookbook author, a professional photographer, and a cupcake shop owner – many of whom had travelled several hours , like me, to attend this sesson.  We were quite a different group , but all of us had the desire to improve our food photography.

We spent the morning reviewing and discussing photography basics and their application to food photography. I know I heard some of this in the beginner photography class I took earlier this year, but seeing Helene’s examples really helped the concepts sink in.

Following a delicious lunch, we got to put all these concepts into action.  Helene provide lots of props and food.  We each got to set up our own scenes and take immediately improved photos using natural light.   Now I much better understand white balance, ISO, bounce…… Helene worked with each of us to get the most of our photos.  Best of all, she was so encouraging.  I really felt empowered to create better shots.







So what did I learn?  That taking good food shots requires more than cooking something, grabbing a camera and making do with the terrible lighting in my kitchen.  I learned technical and practical tips that will make a huge difference. And most importantaly I gained confidence that I can do it!  Thanks Helene !!

If you’d like to improve your food photography, I’d really recommend Helene’s book ‘Plate to Pixel’.  I know that I’ll be using it as my photography reference.  And I hope I do her justice as I focus more on my photography (pun intended).


  1. Great post! I can’t believe I missed it when you first published it. I’m so behind. I feel like I’m still absorbing so much from that wonderful day, even over a month later! It was wonderful to meet you there too! xo

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