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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shooting food


More of my food photos here www.istockphoto.com

Chicken and broccoli pasta
Here in the south of France the hills are alive with the sound of gunshot. La Drôme, where I live, is the only departement where hunting is allowed every day of the week and from September until January, walking the dog is a risky business and a yellow security jacket is de rigeur. Politically, the hunting lobby is so strong that whenever someone is killed by hunters (an annual occurrence in Provence), the verdict is always 'accidental death' and the sentence usually a suspended sentence. Two years ago a woman was shot dead in my region while she was collecting mushrooms; a hunter who'd been unlucky in his search for wild boar 'saw something move in the bushes' and hoped to end his day by bagging something. He did.

The annual 'accident' victims have included a young man cycling a marked cycle trail and a little boy shot by his grandfather's gun, left lying round the house. Amongst this craziness there is a certain black humour in the incident where a hunter was shot in the woods by his own dog, who stumbled across the cocked gun.

Courgette/Zucchini
To avoid being mistaken for a wild boar, I inquired at my local mairie what a 'peaceful walker' should do. Paths in this area are often signed as open to 'peaceful walkers' (les randonneurs paisibles). Without missing a tap on her keyboard, the mairie secretary told me that the hunting season finishes in January 'and it's only small game shooting (gibier) after that, which isn't a problem.' Has she ever been shot by small bore?! I remember incidents with airguns and disturbed adolescents, and personally I'd rather not risk any projectile in the eye. As for the official advice between September and January; 'you can always phone up to find out where the boar hunts are.' Helpful. Not.

Once my husband and I were walking the dog and came across a guy with a shotgun at the start to a walk through the woods.

Us 'Is there a hunt on?'
Him 'Yes, but you can walk that way. Just make sure you talk loudly.'
We turned around.

So my kind of shooting is strictly limited to the digital kind.

Apple crumble
I've talked about writing and about dogs. My third passion is photography and in stock photography I find the  freedom to shoot what I like plus receptive, paying viewers. An icon in the stock world gave the advice 'Don't even try shooting food. The specialists do it too well for you to be able to compete'. From that moment I knew I'd shoot food. If I'd been put off by all the specialists in everything who are better photographers than I am, I wouldn't have uploaded one photo. Instead, I've been told by pro photographers, and cookbook buyers, that my food shots are good. Don't get me wrong - I know that not all my food shots are good. I still have my L plates on as a photographer. But something good happens sometimes and I know that. So in this blog, I'm going to share the way I work when shooting food.

I'm working on a request from a buyer, the same one who bought the apple crumble (see photo) so I'll go through my process step by step as I prepare and then shoot. If you want pro advice on lighting, you won't find that here but you will find some of the choices food shooters make.

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