Asha must have been one of the first foodbloggers I started following (as we also started blogging at roughly the same time) and if you have a look at her blog, Fork, Spoon, Knife you can see that her progress is fabulous. We finally met in real life in Italy last year (can’t believe it is really only last year! It feels different) and as that happens after you’ve been reading someone’s blog for a while, you start to feel you already know the person.
And I love Asha. Not only her beautiful photography but her personality and endless passion for all things food related. At the moment she is working on some really cool projects; one being a digital magazine called Nourished and just very recently she also started a new venture called Foodly where she does consultation, workshops and/or where you can get personalized recipes. So much happening right now! So if you haven’t met Asha yet hop on over to her blog and be inspired!
Hi, I am Asha and I have been blogging for six years now at Fork Spoon Knife. I finally launched my official portfolio this year at Asha Photography. I am super honored to be writing in this series of Simone’s on my approach to food photography. I hope it shares some insight into how I tamed my chaotic mind.
When I started, I had what will probably be considered a toy camera in hindsight. A simple Point and Shoot (Olympus and then Canon) that I used as the name suggested. There was no real thinking involved in my shooting. I would not even call it photography. There was none of the style or composition that one relates to the field, in my captures then.
As I engaged more in the world of food blogging, I was amazed by the amount of visual stimulation. I remember spending countless nights bleary eyed, and, simply mesmerized by photographs taken by food bloggers around the world. Not only were they all technically well crafted, but they made the food so much more desirous.
That was the beginning of my journey in working with the visual aspect of food. With that understanding came not only the desire to better my photographs but also brought about a shift in the way I looked at, prepared and presented food.
In 2010, I gifted myself my first proper camera that I still use today; A Nikon D5000 with the basic 18-55 mm lens. Since then I have retired that lens and now use the 24-70mm and 50mm lenses.
I like to bring the viewer into the picture and want them to feel as I did when I made and ate that bite. To that end, I work only with natural light and attempt to capture the candid beauty of the subject. I am not big on using too many props, preferring to use them as affiliates to the main hero rather than create a clutter.
I have a small collections of wood surfaces foraged and bought on eBay and some pieces of cloth that I use as back drops. Pretty much any piece of fabric or curio around the house can be a potential prop! I also have an eclectic collection of old and new cutlery, plates, baking pieces and other kitchen/dining items that rotate through my photos. I don’t go for the expressly contemporary look and prefer to keep it more toned to the rustic flavor.
I live in a city with prohibitive real estate. So, my work space, studio, prop storage, book shelves, nook dining table, are all in the same space. Yet, I am fortunate to have two huge windows that let in the afternoon light beautifully. I adjust for the slant of the sun rays at different times by moving my table closer or further from the window. I find that the best times to shoot, are post 3 pm when the rays are a lot of oblique and refracted into a soft tone. I love rainy days. The light is naturally diffused and there is a mystic quality to them that works great with rustic food and styling.
To be honest, I am not always very planned in my shoots. Some of my best shots have been impulsive. No matter, I try to weave a story to convey to the viewer, whether it is a tacit story or emotional (as in mood). I like to play with textures and colors to deliver that message. Sometimes, though I have planned a shoot in my head and when I try to execute, it looks less than impressive. I have simply scratched my original design and created one at the moment that conveyed what I wanted the scene to. I like delivering an image rather than the subject.
Photography is a constant journey and that is why it is appealing to me. It at once challenges and fulfills me. There is always something new to learn and yet it is easy to get stuck in an artistic rut. Every time I feel my photographs are starting to blend into each other, I want to change everything and try something entirely new.
Everything I know about photography and styling is empirical and self-taught. I spent several hours pouring over the work of photographers that spoke to me, figuring out how to work the camera and the technical bits. Once I learnt to boss my camera about, I started playing with the styling and composition, shot several photographs of different foods to understand and develop my unique visual statement. A healthy dose of competitive spirit genuinely nudged this process along.
I like to think I continuously evolve. To force that I follow a ton of bloggers and photographers and try to keep on top of their work. Helene is one of my favorites who was also my original inspiration. Some others include Brittany Wood, Katie, Karen Moredechai. I also follow random Tmblr blogs that have a collection of cool photos. My focus now is to continue building on the way I look through the lens but widening the landscape. I am trying to find myself in shooting outdoor landscape and on-location shots with low light.
The challenge in photography changes as one evolves. As a beginner, I was most frustrated with taming the light. If you are one to shoot in natural light, the only thing you can do is be nice to yourself. Because, the sun cannot be controlled, the diffusion of its rays on your subject can be to an extent. A lot of frustration is because as a learner, we want to know things instantaneously. But, this is a field that needs a lot of patience and practice.
And, sometimes,it makes sense to simply walk away from the shoot, do something else and give yourself a break.