In contrast to the slightly unappetising image conjured up in our minds by 'peasant food' the photographic style is proving to be highly appealing. However, despite the laid back vibe these images appear to effortlessly pull off, their production requires a lot of hard work and creativity. Plus, due to the ever increasing number of 'photographers' now on the internet, and the capability of mobile phones, the challenge is rising for professional photographers to clarify the difference between professionally 'rustic' and rushed, half hearted attempts. Since having great success with a 'rustic' style shoot we did recently for Maroush we were inspired to start testing new techniques and styles for our future clients.
Something we really wanted to work on was creating our own 'natural light'. When it comes to food, lighting is one of the most important factors, and the rustic feel really lends itself to using natural light. However, as lovely (and easy) as it would be to use day light for all our work is it just not always possible. We have worked in moody restaurants where natural light just isn't part of the atmosphere, through to basement kitchens that will never see the sun. Not to mention the fact we're in England and the weather changes it's mind faster than we can fire our shutter! So our solution, in our ever changing environment, was to produce our own light that effectively represents day light and can be set up absolutely anywhere.
After testing out various ideas and methods we gradually developed a lighting set up that really worked. We can't let you in on that little secret but we will tell you that it makes a world of difference to our work and the practising definitely paid off! The best part of being able to produce our own natural light is the benefits it has for our clients. There are no worries on shoot day that the sun won't be out or that a large party have booked the only window seat in the restaurant, we can set up where ever is easiest for them and produce exactly the same results because we have total control over the situation (well, the lighting).
Another issue that constantly arises is styling. Yes enthusiastically flicking through Pinterest does no harm but inspiration only works when you possess the ability to apply styles you like to your own work. We are fully aware of the fact that photographic shoots can be costly and that hiring a stylist is not always an option. This is where we come in. As photographers it is not enough to just be able to work a camera and light a scene, the scene itself has to be altered in relation to the camera in order to achieve the best shot possible. Achieving a 'thrown together' shot can be much harder than capturing neatly placed knives and forks and ironed table cloths because there are so many ways it can be done and it can end up looking very un-natural despite good intentions. As you can see, in the shots through out this post, we really went all out when it came to sourcing props for our 'peasant food' experiments, including bringing in mud from the garden at home to use in our celeriac shot and shifting a rather large table in doors to use as a background in the beetroot soup image. We believe the fine details bring a shot to life and it is essential to know how to fine tune those details to create the desired atmosphere. Our knowledge and understanding of photographic composition and colour and shape matching, aids our decisions and allows us to bring individual elements together to create a well formed image. Once again this frees our clients mind of worry that the shots won't do the job they need them to do.
The 'peasant food' look certainly gives the impression of relaxed and easy going but preparing the shots can be far from that. We, and the wonderful teams we are lucky enough to collaborate with, work incredibly hard before, during and after a shoot to ensure consistency of quality through out the day. Developing ways of working in the studio before heading out to shoot for clients has dramatically improved our work flow. We enjoy developing our shooting techniques and styling so they work for businesses and their marketing strategies in the best way possible.
Scroll on down to see some of the results!