Food Photography Workshop at the Atlantis Hotel ~ Day 1

April 11th, 2012

The theme was Fun and Passion.

Participants traveled from Egypt, Germany, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE. We converged at the Atlantis Hotel on The Palm Island in Dubai for two full days of taking photos. Oh yes, and eating!

The topic that drew us all together: Food Photography and Styling. Basically, we all wanted to improve our skills at taking photos of food—whether for blogs, magazines, advertisements or television.

The group was varied, our cultural backgrounds across the map: Finland, Australia, UK, Egypt, Kuwait, US, India & Japan. My fellow students were freelance food writers and bloggers, professional photographers and professional food stylists.

Naturally, I felt a little out of my league with all these pros; however, once we got started, I realized we were all there to learn, whatever our starting level.

Our instructor was Meeta Wolff, a food photographer and stylist based in Germany; she publishes the blog What’s for Lunch, Honey? Meeta has a “still life” style to her food photos that can only be described as pure art. However, she discouraged us from copying her style or anyone else’s, but rather find our own unique signature style for shooting food.

Meanwhile, our Event Organizer Extraordinaire was Sally Prosser, a Dubai-based blogger who writes My Custard Pie, all about food.

Day 1 – Food Photography

The first day Meeta reviewed the basics of food photography. We focused mostly on light—natural light, artificial light, backlight, and sidelight. I took notes until my head was spinning, and I finally grasped the importance of natural light when shooting food. After some photography exercises (very technical), we were broke for lunch.

Photographing Food and Then Eating It

Of course, we couldn’t just sit down and eat lunch. We had to take photos of it first.

Food Styling

Meeta explained to us the finer points of composition, placement, depth of field, angles, and focus—technical, yes, but all creative components of styling and shooting food.

The best part was the discussion of props. First, there are natural props: garnishes, herbs, spices and bits of ingredients. Then comes the fun: backgrounds, textiles, flatware and dishes. I think I could be very good at this part of food styling—collecting and hoarding tableware, that is.

Cocktail Demonstration

Next on the agenda was a cocktail demo, which took place on Nasimi Beach at the Atlantis Hotel. The bartender demonstrated a variety of cocktails and mocktails.

Of course, we took photographs of the drinks. A little weird, I know. Here are a few if my favorites:

After a whirlwind day of practicing new skills, we ate a late dinner at the Levantine restaurant at the Atlantis, where Chef Ali prepared an enormous spread just for us–a preview of the upcoming Ramadan menu. We ate outside on the terrace, and it was dark by then. No photos were taken. What a relief.

Here’s a photograph of our lovely and brillant group.

Next up: Day 2 ~ Food Photography Workshop at the Atlantis Hotel

Question: Do you like to take photographs of food?

  1. zvezdanarashkovichZvezdana
    April 12th, 2012 at 00:27 | #1

    Really nice. Looks like a fun and informative event and time well spent.
    The photos are great…

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 13th, 2012 at 16:44 | #2

      Thanks, Zvezdana. It was a little intimidating to be with this talented group.

  2. Jeannie Neely
    April 12th, 2012 at 00:44 | #3

    Lovely entry to your blog Holly, I felt as if I were there enjoying it with you! Keep up the good writing and photography, I really enjoy your blog.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 13th, 2012 at 16:44 | #4

      Jeannie, thank you for your kind & generous words. Thank you for reading.

  3. April 12th, 2012 at 12:39 | #5

    You recalled the first day perfectly. I really love the photo of everyone taking pictures of lunch! Hope you’re having a nice week!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 13th, 2012 at 16:39 | #6

      Thanks, Alyssa. It was such a pleasure meeting you & working with you. I loved your write-up of the event. Your photos are gorgeous. You inspire me!!

  4. Seattle Mama
    April 12th, 2012 at 19:47 | #7

    Yum! And sunshine too! Looks like a lot of fun! and it looks like you got some great shots and training. Can’t wait to see some new entries and shots of your delicious cuisine.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 13th, 2012 at 16:38 | #8

      Hey Seattle Mama,
      Thanks for reading. Now the pressure is on to produce some decent food photos. Oh no! No more dabbling. The bar has been raised a notch.

  5. April 12th, 2012 at 19:55 | #9

    It’s safe to say I’m super jealous! What a wonderful experience! I hope you go back during Ramadan to shoot the spread Chef Ali creates.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 13th, 2012 at 16:37 | #10

      Well, Amanda, it’s rare in Dubai to find a workshop that is fun, educational & relevant. When I heard about this workshop, I immediately signed up. BTW, I read about your food blogging conference last year & I was a little jealous, too!

  6. April 13th, 2012 at 00:42 | #11

    its was an amazing workshop i really enjoyed working with you and the rest of the group

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 13th, 2012 at 16:34 | #12

      Abdulazziz, Best wishes on your future food photography. You are an amazing photographer. I’m sure you will be excellent at whatever you shoot! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

  7. April 15th, 2012 at 18:50 | #13

    I really wish i joined!
    It seems like you learned a lot!

    Your phtographs look great!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 16th, 2012 at 18:45 | #14

      La Mere Culinaire, I looked at your blog & your photos are already pretty sensational! I believe Meeta is planning another food photography workshop in the future. I would recommend it. All the best to you with your photos, cooking & blogging!

  8. April 16th, 2012 at 12:28 | #15

    I was really looking forward to meeting you, because after visiting your blog a few times you came across as a warmhearted and genuine person. I was not disappointed :o) loved your enthusiasm and flair during the two days. Hoping to see you again soon on my next trip!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 16th, 2012 at 18:34 | #16

      Meeta, Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words. I had a great time during those two days and learned so much. I would sign up for any workshop of yours! My next goal is to learn Photoshop Lightroom. Thanx again!

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