Pinch of Yum Food Photography Workshop

Ok.  I apologize….

Approximately two and a half months half passed since I went to the mind-blowing, two-day PINCH OF YUM TASTY FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP in Minneapolis, Minnesota…and I feel terrible that I haven’t taken the time to sit down and actually write about it and tell you all how fabulous and beneficial it was!  pinch-of-yum-workshop-10

This adventure all took place on the weekend of September 11th.  I stayed with my pal Caroline (again… Thanks Caroline!), just as I did last year during my trip to see Sally McKinney of Sally’s Baking Addiction, for her Candy Book tour.  See post—> HERE….

First off, let me say that Minneapolis is one of my favorite home-away-from-home cities, so it was great to be back.

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I also have been following the blog PinchofYum.com for some time and recently was intrigued to learn of their expansion beyond recipes and food blog tips, to actually teaching real life photography workshops and having a membership program called Food Blogger Pro!  Little did I know also, that along with my Tasty Food Photography ticket, I was granted a year’s membership to Food Blogger Pro!  That is worth going to a workshop at least once a year as it’s almost a $300 cost for the membership–AND there’s almost always a waiting list.

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So I felt super lucky to get in and have access to this little corner of the web to exchange ideas with other members, and ask questions directly to the experts behind the magic of Pinch Of Yum, Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom 🙂

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Ok, I was sold…. so I was first in line to sign up… only 12 spots!  I had a place to stay, and knew exactly how to get there by car.  A few weeks, a 6 hour drive, and a “couple of dollars” later, I was there….stepping into the most GORGEOUS working space an artist could ask for.  I mean, this old repurposed factory in the heart of the North Loop of the Twin Cities was the perfect blend of old meets new.

We’re talking exposed brick, BIG, bright, beautiful windows, original hardwood floors, and the perfect touch of shabby chic, mid-centery modern, and IKEA flair brought it all together as a pleasant and inviting space for all!  Any of the Pinch of Yum staff who works in the space, or heck, practically lives in that space all day—-well let’s just say, it makes it so easy to forget that it’s a work place.  It’s so warm, alluring, and just plain COOL.

Ok here’s proof:

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I mean…they had the kitchen in the corner…with that TURQUOISE FRIDGE -OMG!

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And the exposed rafters…

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Those hanging doors though!

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The furniture, the lighting, the space!

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Also, there was an entire separate room full of props, step stools, backdrops, boards, tables, artificial lights, bowls, antique spoons, you name it….a food blogger’s DREAM room….  and we got to use anything we wanted from it…

I can’t express how much picking out the perfect cup or bowl felt exactly like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where he had to choose Jesus’ chalice/holy grail…

OMG it was exactly like that!

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Ok enough talk about the atmosphere—let’s talk about the actual workshop!

Lindsay herself was super personable, approachable and overall very nice.  She was a teacher before becoming a full time blogger, so she was a natural at running this workshop.

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Her teaching style was very similar to the way we would approach workshops at the Apple Store way back when I worked there… You extend a warm welcome, go through introductions, set the expectations and agenda, dive into engaging content, stop and review/ask questions, set out to work on said task, regroup and revamp, review again, repeat…..and end with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.  Simple and easy.

 

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That was the bare bones of it.  The details are as follows:

Lindsay was very raw and very real when it came to her practice and approach to food photography.  She was very organic in her presentation and was honest about her personal workflow being very free-flowing, sometimes basing shots on a whim.  Some food photographers get wrapped up in set lists, prop styling, staging the scene, planning planning planning, but not Lindsay.  It’s not really her style.  She wants her food to look approachable, and the photos, I feel, really reflect that.  The recipes don’t seem too difficult or advanced to accomplish.  They seem like the average person can see it, want to create the meal, and be eager to do so, just by the way it’s presented.  Oh, and it also makes you hungry…that helps.

For example-directly from Pinch of Yum:  10 Easy Recipes You Cake Make in a Dutch Oven:

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Lindsay would explain a concept, demonstrate it, then allow us to practice while she made rounds, helping us tweak our presentations and ask questions along the way.

I felt like my style very much aligned with hers in that I just pick up my camera and start shooting.  Of course, I approach a lot of things in life that way, and not all of us are like that, but it works for me.  She didn’t bother with tripods, she didn’t bother with setting the mood, she didn’t bother with too much detail.

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What she did bother with was making sure the food was number one in the image, not getting too distracted by the dishes or the silverware–keeping the wares very simple to say the least.  Also, she did tweak a bit in post editing.  Color, texture, and an overall sense of pop and grab-your-attention-ness to her photos were what concerned her most.

Creating a sense of brand and establishing your signature, if you will, is the theme of her other workshop, which I plan to attend hopefully next year !

She went over equipment very briefly as it’s more of the photographer’s skills over the camera that make a photo…yeah yeah…we all hear that, but deep down you know we all want/need/covet your Canon EOS 6D…Drool…..

She did talk about using specific software for editing, such as Lightroom (which is what I use now since Apple went ahead and dropped Aperture..pshh), and a little Photoshop, which I dabbled in for a few college classes a (ahem) decade ago, but haven’t touched it much since.  I really should though as it can do amazing things, PLUS I am investing in the  Adobe Creative Cloud Photographer Plan , where you can download and use both Lightroom and Photoshop for a sweet $10 a month.  Not too shabby.

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Besides getting our own creative space to play in, personal coach to advise us, and background boards and dishes that we could only dream and wish that we could afford all at once, the other valuable part of this workshop was getting to network and meet new folks from all over the nation. We got to connect, talk, ask each other questions, and found ways to keep in touch after the fact.

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These were people who, just like me, have no shame in nabbing the window seat at the local cafe so you can have the BEST light when snapping your steaming hot food with your iPhone, letting it get cold only to get the shot of your lifetime which you hope will go viral and make you famous on  Instagram… ha…I mean, who does that?

At least when they provided breakfast and lunch, we were given actual permission to shoot photos of our food as much as we wanted and no one in the room would judge or care.  It was so freeing and amazing to be around like-minded people who do the same things you do, but usually in the privacy of their own homes.

I will list as many people who were involved in the workshop as I can gather.  Check out their sites here:

Michael from  YumisaFlavor

Paige from  Studiodelicious.com

Dani from  Glitterspice.com

Michele from  Westviamidwest.com

Hannah from  Buddyskitchen.com

Lisa from  Delicioustable.com

Alison from  Veggiesbycandlelight.com

Amy from  Lakewinds.com

That is all I could get! At least those who participated and shared their blogs anyway.

The one thing that I really wanted to walk away with was how to confidently capture a pour shot.   Like this:

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It’d be awesome if we could all have an assistant at home.  Or a tripod with a digital timer, or remote control shutter!  Lindsay straight up demonstrated like a boss how to just hold the camera in one hand to shoot, and pour with the other.  I mean, the shutter speed and image stabilization on her camera has to be through the roof!

Mine started out like this:

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Like, you can’t even see the syrup! Ha.   Then I eventually got better with a few tips:

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Ok, I can see a little twisty action going on with the milk.  Good…good….

And then…. the million dollar shot.  The one I had been wanting to master…

POWDERED SUGAR:

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What I had to do was bump up the ISO as much as my camera would allow, and then bump up the shutter speed to the fastest it’s ever been….Set the camera to burst mode, make sure I had a super dark, contrasting background, run a test shot where I can for sure focus on the powdered sugar….then, have someone shake the powdered sugar for me while I shoot as many photos as my camera will allow until it gets too hot and eventually quits.

That was the only money shot I got out of…..well, probably like 60+….but it’s a start! I’ve read tutorials and watched videos and haven’t been able to really master it on my own.  Perhaps I can try more down the road.

Other things we learned.

 

Backlighting:  Where your light source comes from the back of the subject, creating that glowing feel/look:

Side lighting:

 

Corner lighting:

Even lighting:

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Dramatic lighting:

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Overhead shots:

Table-level shots:

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Three-quarter shots:

Close-Ups:

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Beyond that it was a lot of practice and figuring out the manual settings on our cameras.  Lindsay mentioned that the sweet spot for shooting with lots of light is usually this:

Shutter Speed 60 fps (do not go lower especially if hand-holding)

F Stop:   3.2   – Gives just the right amount of bokeh (depth of field) for food shots

ISO:  100-400

I learned that if my camera is no longer balancing light at 60 fps and 3.2 f stop, then I will adjust my ISO last.  I TRY not to go above 800 as the quality of the image starts to degrade the higher you go.  BUT if I do not intend on printing, I may go a little higher.  Better quality cameras can go up to a higher ISO without quality diminishing.  So perhaps a better investment is in the works down the road, especially if I ever have hopes of publishing a real, printed cook book some day.

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I’m not going to go into much more detail than that as far as manual settings go because it really does take a lot of practice and a lot of researching, and most of all, reading your own camera manual will make you an expert at your own specific device.
A few more key takeaways I loved were:

  • Using cheap sheers on the windows to help filter the light.
  • Looking for amazing textured backgrounds at thrift stores or junk shops like that shown above.
  • The use of artificial light is no longer a taboo thing for me as I got to try out the lowel ego lights   for these shots! Loved them!  They are on my Xmas wish list 😀

 

In a nutshell, the workshop was well worth it.  I am excited to go to the second level class and maybe even the Everything Food Conference this coming spring!

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.  If you’re interested in any workshops, Food Blogger Pro, or the conference, please look into it and do it!

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Oh PS: Seven Sundays sponsored the workshop and provided free Muesli and Muesli Squares for us to take home.  YUM!  You should try Muesli–it is DELICIOUS!

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Cheers!

poy2

-K

 


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