This past fall I had the absolute pleasure of teaching a class with a friend of mine, Jenn Bakos of Jennifer Bakos Photography. Jenn is someone I look up to a great deal, not only is she kind hearted, but she’s also extremely talented and puts her heart and soul into everything she creates. We had taught a two hour mini class at The Studio of Photographic Arts aka. SOPHA’s Annual Down on the farm class in July and had such a great time doing it we jumped on the chance to teach a class this fall. When we got together early on to discuss what we wanted to do it a hundred percent made sense to go with a fall theme, we live in New England so it’s just the perfect jumping point. I thought to recap it we could go over what we brought to the class and show you some of the shots I took from the day.
To start, we decided to get some british meat pies from Thwaites Market. My sister had told me about this place a couple years ago and when I first had one of their single serving meat pies I am pretty sure I lost my mind. They’re just absolutely delightful and perfect for the time of year where it’s a bit cooler out. They really stick to your bones and warm you up. Also they look absolutely adorable because… mini pies! When I got to Thwaites a day or so before the class they had a wide variety of flavors, pork, chicken, shepherd's pie, chicken parm, sausage and onions, caprese you name it.. I ended up getting quite a few different pies because I wanted to try them all! I know they sometimes have mac and cheese pies (heavy breathing) so you should follow their facebook page to see when those are being made and get them. I tortured myself by driving 45 minutes home having to smell their deliciousness the whole way... next time I'm buying some for myself so I can eat one!
We also made some treats for the occasion! Jenn made apple rosemary hand pies. Not only did they look appetizing but they were absolutely heavenly. The pies really photographed so well no matter what mood we were going for! I also made one of my favorites, Sfoof, a Semolina cake with Turmeric to give it that perfect pop of yellow and can be flavored a couple of different ways. I'll be dedicating a whole post to it’s greatness later on. Sfoof just screams fall with its bright color and while I was mixing the ingredients I felt that it needed to have a country just baked feeling that only a cast iron skillet could provide! This decision didn't disappoint!
You have to have something pumpkin related in a fall themed food photography class, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a pie! I decided pumpkin kibbeh would be perfect! Similar to the traditional kibbeh, but substituted with pumpkin instead of beef mixed with bulgar wheat and a filling of sauteed spinach, lemon, chickpeas, and pine nuts. It's a savory vegan dish that I could eat year round to be perfectly honest. I styled the shots for it and decided to go traditional and then a more modern approach.
The last item that I made was a curry butternut squash soup. Another vegan recipe that I make several times a year! We placed it on the table setting we created as a first course and then gave the soup it's own stylized shot. I feel like curry and squash go so perfectly together and really create that warm and inviting soup you desire during the season.
On top of all of that we both brought in beverages. My husband Ryan, brews at home so I brought a couple of his beers to shoot and sample! This time around he made two 5 gallon batches, one was Hefeweizen and the other an IPA. We went to our local brewing supplies store, Candia Road Brewing Company home of Nepenthe Ales to get advice from our friend Tom Neel who runs the place on what grains to to use for photographic purposes. Tom, understood what I was looking for and helped me pick out some absolutely gorgeous grains and even gave me the idea of creating a gradient with them. My husband also just harvested his cascade hops which were one of my favorite items to play around with for a few interesting shots. Jenn also made a beautiful fall sangria! I won't lie I took a small ship and it was awesome! Definitely a recipe i’ll be using again this coming season! It was definitely an elegant addition to our Harvest Table!
What else did we do? Well Jenn and I literally raided our homes and kitchens and brought every prop we could find as well as a ton of fruits vegetables, spices, teas.. you name it, we had it! We wanted this to be a hands on experience where the student could create special images on their own for their portfolios. The only way to figure out your style is to play around and get creative! I made quite a few tiny setups to show that working small is just as much of a creative process as working on a large scale shot. Jenn also styled a few amazing shots; my absolute favorite being the shot below of lavender!
Since it was just the four of us it was a great opportunity for everyone to style a shot and we could rotate and photograph each other's. We also collaborated on a fall fruits and vegetable shot together which was a lot of fun too! Honestly I think we were all so into it that we barely broke for lunch and created images from 10-4 which was when we honestly were all so mentally exhausted from it all! Here are some of our styled shots from the end of the day!
Styled by Dawn Demeo
Styled by Kathy Labelle
Styled by Jenn Bakos
Looking back at the time we spent that day, I came to a couple of conclusions. Not only did the people who attend leave the class with an immersive learning experience they can reflect upon when creating their images moving forward, but I feel like I learned a lot from it as well. Taking the time to plan your image really is just as important as making the food you’ll be photographing and to be able to spend a good chunk of time discussing everything from color choices to prop placement i realized I knew a lot more than I give myself credit for. I also enjoyed the intimate setting to share my passion and co teach a class with a great friend.
In other great news, Jenn and I are actually gearing up for another class titled “ From the Hearth: Creating a Food Story”. This time it’s going to be a bit different though. We’ll be working with my good friend Cheryl Holbert of Nomad Bakery to teach photographers how to photograph an artisan baker at work and show the story behind the making of woodfired pizza. There will also be a styling exercise where the students can create a scene with some of Nomad Bakery’s signature breads. It really is going to be an event you wouldn’t want to miss! You can check out the class at The Studio Of Photographic Arts if you want to get a slice out of this action!