A few weeks ago I made a return visit to Made in Ghent for an advanced food photography workshop taught by Michael Piazza and Catrine Kelty. This was my second workshop at Made in Ghent with Michael Piazza but my first one with Catrine who's a food stylist in the Boston area. I never got around to blogging about the beginner workshop I did a year ago, but here's a recap of this years workshop.
After introductions, a light breakfast and coffee, the workshop began with Michael discussing photography and light. He and his assistant Robin built a set and then Catrine began to style a breakfast scene with yogurt, granola and some jam. Michael and Catrine work together regularly and Catrine has a great reputation in New England as a food stylist, so I was really excited to watch them do their thing. Catrine said, “ I speak food and understand light and Michael speaks light and understands food.”
Catrine walked us through her thought process as she styled and gave us tips along the way on how to make things seem realistic. Little details like licking some yogurt off of the spoon so it looks like it’s been used. (if you look closely at the spoon above you’ll see what I mean) Also, swirl the yogurt around in the bowl with a spoon to create a little shadow in the sea of white. “A little mess goes a long way. It should feel perfectly imperfect” was one of my favorite quotes. #wabisabi Here are a few more Catrine quotes.
“Savers is my spirit animal”
“Do your mise en place on set so you can get multiple vignettes. Deconstruct as you go. Style in the smallest increments.”
“If you’re shooting hands in the frame, lift them in the air first to draw the blood out”
“When styling, close one eye to mimic looking through the camera”
She also gave each of us our own styling kit! Tools like chopsticks, tweezers, a paintbrush, q-tips etc. It felt like Christmas! 😂
In the afternoon we had lunch down the hill at the Made in Ghent farm store. Mimi is an excellent cook and baker so we were fed extremely well. Her bread is worth the drive if you’re anywhere near their farm. We were so spoiled with homemade focaccia, fresh salads, onion quiche and blueberry polenta bars. And of course, more coffee.
After lunch we did more of the same but this time we had more opportunities to style with Catrine’s help. There were tons of props, surfaces and food to work with, so this was pretty fun. We also had the opportunity to play with strobe lighting if we wanted to.
At the end of the day we had a couple of hours free before the farm dinner so I tagged along with Michael and Catrine on a prop shopping trip! They were going to Davi Studio in nearby Chatham so I jumped at the chance to prop shop with the pros. I almost didn’t go but I’m glad that I did. Catrine picked up a lot of things that I never would have noticed on my own. There were small ceramic dishes with words engraved on them and she said, “put a cookie over it and no one will ever notice.” It was a revelation! I may have “accidentally” bought a bowl that Michael wanted but that’s what he gets for inviting me. Haha
After buying some new props we headed back for the farm dinner. Richard and Mimi treated us to the loveliest dinner with plenty of wine, cheese, roast chicken and of course, dessert. It was an action packed day full of food, conversation, learning and photography.
We started the second day bright and early with a group walk around the farm during morning chores. We started with the pigs, then the chickens and ended with a walk through the woods and a field of wild flowers. The light was so beautiful and I couldn’t resist photographing the farm animals. The piglets were my favorite 🐷.
After the farm walk we had another delicious breakfast prepared by Mimi and Trish. Once the workshop got going for our second and final day, Michael announced that we would be on our own that day. No more watching them work, it was time for us to flex our creative muscles and style things ourselves. Catrine was of course around if we had questions and Michael and Robin were also walking around the whole time helping us when we needed it. It’s amazing how much detail goes into the perfect shot! Styling takes time and there’s some trial and error for sure. We styled salads and then after lunch we styled meringues.
I really enjoyed this workshop and learned so many things about styling and the nuances of light and dialing in my photography a little more. What a journey the last year has been. It was cool to return a year later and see the progress I’ve made! If you’re interested in food photography and editorial, I can’t recommend a workshop with Michael and Catrine enough.
Molly Lo in action.