Food Photography with Andrew Scrivani

As a child of a Filipino grandfather, I had the task of standing in front of a camera with my cousins for what seemed like hours, to get “just one more” shot. I can still see my grandfather donning a sheer muscle shirt, trousers and flip-flops. 

When I’m feeling nostalgic, my thoughts almost always return to my grandparent’s home in Southern California. It was my favorite place to be as an only child, because it meant I would get to see my cousins who were close in age and my aunt who was six years older, I would get to eat my grandmother’s Pepper Steak, we would eat bags full of candy from the corner market…and get away with things we could never do at home.

But it’s the sound of my grandfather’s flip-flops and the picture-taking that I hold dear. All at once in my mind’s eye, I’m quietly watching him set up his equipment, which back in the day, was large and a little bit cumbersome, especially when video came along…you can imagine. It was sweet the way he went about it all very methodically.

For some reason though, I didn’t grow up with his love for photography. I’m only rediscovering it now, after a long stint with point-and-shoot cameras, and more recently, the iPhone camera with Hipstamatic App.

So when I thought about signing up for Andrew Scrivani’s Seattle workshop, I felt a little timid. I even asked host, Seattle Bon Vivant, if it was only for professionals. Luckily she said I could attend with my beginner status, and away I went.

Looking at Andrew’s pictures reminded me of how hard photographers work. Before I had children, I was a marketing manager for an international manufacturer, which meant that I had to hire photographers, graphic designers and printing houses. It was a great job, but seeing Andrew’s photos, and hearing his explanations about the hours involved, the business of photography, carrying Q-Tips to wipe away annoying excesses, and whipping chopsticks out of his pocket like a gun-slinger, gave me a new respect for his craft…his art.

I can’t do justice to all that I experienced in those four short hours in downtown Seattle, but here are a few things we did: Listened to Andrew’s advice and got to see his photos, sampled amazing fare, were visited by special guest Pichet Ong of Coppelia’s in New York, and used all of that inspiration to photograph food. It was wonderful to watch groups working together, and Andrew giving advice. It was a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful venue. If you get a chance to come to Andrew’s next workshop (I hear there are plans in the works for fall!), I suggest you sign up quick.

Here are a few of the photos I took

The plaid shirt below is a joke for the class. Apparently Pichet has a penchant for plaid (say that ten times fast). Here is a short list of things I wrote down during Andrew’s presentation:

  • ~Jump at opportunities
  • ~Minimalism is a good thing
  • ~It’s not just food, it is still life art
  • ~Find your style
  • ~Create illusion
  • ~Push light
  • ~Play with effects
  • ~Be creative
  • ~Don’t dumb it down for your audience
  • ~Use what you have
  • ~Understand light
  • ~Talk about your work in a way in which people will understand your perspective
  • ~You won’t always fit certain molds
  • ~Play around with graphics
  • ~Use smaller props
  • ~Iron your linens!
  • ~If shooting white on white – shoot in dark-lighten in Photoshop
  • ~Master the drip (honey, syrup)
  • ~Use mature Spinach
  • ~Recognize beautiful light

And here is a list of some of the people who brought this together. A big thank you!

  • ~Myra Kohn (@bonnevivante) who was the consummate host
  • ~Andrew Scrivani (@andrewscrivani) great guy and awesome photographer
  • ~Taylor Shellfish/Kate Mcdermott (@taylorshellfish, @katemcdermott) for a spectacular Oyster presentation
  • ~Tom Douglas Co. (@TomDouglasCo) for catering (and Triple Coconut Cream Puffs that changed my life)
  • ~The Confectional (@Confectional) for Cheesecake inspiration
  • ~Blueacre Restaurant (@BlueacreSeafood) for showing us how to shuck Oysters

It was a great day in the city for this country gal. I learned a lot and think I’ll continue to have fun getting to know photography again. If you see me roaming the market donning muscle shirt, trousers and flip-flops, you’ll know I’m clicking my way through the past and enjoying a little nostalgia.

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