Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The perfect photo (Η τέλεια φωτογραφία)

I have been blogging for a long enough time now to know that I take crappy photos. For me, a photograph is often like a diary record. It is true that a picture tells a thousand words: in the time taken to press a button and capture a whole scene, I would have had just enough time to jot down no more than a ten-word sentence (in scribbly shorthand). So most of the time, I use my photos as an illustration of what I write, a bit like concrete evidence of a scene (or recipe) I am describing. A photograph added to a post also gives the reader an idea of what I am trying to describe; in other words, the photo is an integral descriptive tool these days - we see faster than we can hear or read.

One of the best Greek food photography blogs would undoubtedly have to be Souvlaki For the Soul. Peter G, the blog author, recently shared some tips on how to make your food photos stand out among the rest. I was amazed at the simplicity of the things he was suggesting, things as basic as determining what scene/mood you are after. It could be as simple as asking yourself if you want a vintage, modern, rustic or simple look (or some kind of combination). Once you've decided what look you want, then you need to find the appropriate props to set the scene.

I was reading Peter G's post while making kolokithokeftedes (zucchini fritters). I felt inspired to try to make not just the food taste good, but the final photo of the food to look good too.

Kolokithokeftedes with cherry tomato, arugula and baby radish salad
As soon as I cooked the fritters, I carefully chose my props, having decided on a rustic style. Out came an old-fashioned knife and fork, and an unused gingham napkin. The scene seemed a little bland: I decided to prepare a salad with brightly coloured ingredients as a contrast to the earthy colours of the zucchini fritters. As I set up the scene of the photo shoot, I suddenly became anxious: the fritters were getting cold, the salad was losing its crispness, and the aroma of the garden herbs in the fritters was smacking my nose - I wanted to eat it. My eagerness to please my eaters had dampened my spirits slightly; I snapped a few photos from different angles, but I could already feel the fritters getting cold.

I realised that to take good food photos, I would need to spend as much time on styling my food as I did on preparing the meal, something I could not afford to do at this stage in my life. Nevertheless, it was fun and the end results of that first photo shoot were very pleasing; my food porn photo speaks for itself. It seems to give off an air of high-quality professionalism that made me feel quite proud.

But seeking perfection in, what was for me, a new field, distracted me from the real task at hand: I had to feed a family. I ended up reheating the by-now cold fritters (gobbling one up there and then), and I had to put the salad in the fridge for a few minutes to cool it. Good food can't wait. Goodness knows how ice-cream photographers cope...

Just another Sunday morning, where everyone's doing their own thing at the same place at the same time...
I find it so much easier to be rough and tumble. My photos are as simple as my food.

Bon appetit!

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