Soon after I began blogging I noticed that the meaning of my stories were less vivid than I imagined in my mind’s eye because I was so limited in my photography skills. When I say limited, I mean I literally had NO skills. I knew I had to step it up to convey the colors and depth of my prose. They don’t say a picture is worth a thousand words for nothing.
Those who know me best, are aware that I don’t do things half way. When I said I was going to learn to run, I trained for and ran a half marathon in three short months, though I had never run a step in my life. Well, except maybe when my seventh grade gym teacher forced me to run the mile in PE class. It’s just who I am-I go for the gusto. I am not saying this is always a good thing, it’s just my OCD working overtime and can really drive my friends and family nuts, but they encourage me anyway and I owe them thanks for all I’ve been able to do in my life.
So, with that said, my food photography has come a long way in the seven months that I’ve been blogging. I have a long way to go and I need to learn to photograph all subjects-for example people. But, food is such a forgiving subject. It is so full of color and life, yet it doesn’t move or get impatient.
I have recently entered a couple of food photography contests to challenge myself further. In today’s post, I will show you the pictures of the Chicken Pesto Sandwiches I made for Tyson’s Grilled and Ready Chicken Best Cook In America Challenge. In this competition, you had to create an original dish using Tyson chicken and it had to be under 600 calories.
Here is my entry.
You can view the recipe on Food Network’s website at this link.
So how this goes is I contemplate for several days about a possible recipe. I ask family and friends what I should make. I lose sleep picturing ingredients, camera angles, and preparation instructions. Once I create the recipe, I go shopping. I buy enough ingredients to make the dish at least twice because I don’t know quite how it’s going to go. I always have the thought in mind that it may end up in the garbage and I will have to start over. It’s never happened yet, but I am sure one day it will and I am going to be prepared! You also have to think about the props you are going to use and have extra on hand for that purpose. For example, I bought an extra vine of tomatoes to use in the background.
For this contest, I bought four types of bread for the sandwich I had in my head. I created four distinctly different sandwiches and shot them all several times using several angels. You see, it’s not enough just to have a great recipe-it has to translate into a great shot. Sometimes the best looking dish doesn’t reflect the story you are trying to tell.
For example, I created a deconstructed version of the sandwich. My creative brain loves this image-I was so pleased with it. However, everyone told me it was great art, but wasn’t going to bring home the prize for a cooking contest because it looked too un-assembled, not ready to eat. You know, they are right.
I also did a wrapped up picnic version. I love this one too, but I felt that the chicken didn’t appear to be the star of the show and that’s what is in order for this competition.
I created a stacked version on regular bread, but when I took the shot, it appeared to be a wayward sandwich that was falling over-I didn’t quite capture the way it was purposefully placed in a topsy-turvy fashion. The filling is a bit skimpy too.
Lastly, I did a hoagie version. The chicken really stood out on it, but it just looked kinda blah and plain to me. It lacked style.
It takes several hours to prepare the recipe, shoot, and create styled food. I use the most odd things to help me add final touches to the food. I use Q-tips to clean a splash of pesto from the front of a tomato slice. I pump the mayo onto exact places on the lettuce with a frosting bag. It’s insane and my kitchen looks precisely like this when I’m finished.
That is no joke.
The bottom line about blogging and photography is this-if you aren’t prepared to work, don’t do it. It is challenging, but I really love it and I’d quit my job today if I could figure out a way to make some money off it. All in due time…
Do you think I made the right choice out of the different options? I would love to hear what you think. In the meantime, please check out my photo on the contest site here.