An Evening With Good People, and Good Food – Food Photography, Charlotte NC (Also how I learned to say that I’m still learning)

I think if you ask any artist that’s secure enough to say so, they’ll tell you that we’re confident and knowledgeable enough to be doing what we’re doing and absolutely so out of our depth, in need of more knowledge, and all around still striving to be even a fraction of that person we envision in our heads!

Today, we focus on the food photography aspect of LZP… we stumbled into it back in 2008 when we first met Joe of Plaid Penguin and it just fit for us! Now that’s not to say we haven’t come a LOOOOONG way, because we have… and we hope to go much, much further from where we are now! That leads us to discussing something that we decided to do in order to better ourselves… we gave ourselves a goal of doing a “just because” shoot twice a month where we don’t just shoot the way we usually do. We have to try a new lighting technique, implement a new editing technique, maybe get more hands on in the styling than we feel comfy, find ways to tackle those situations where our full setup isn’t going to be realistic, or a mix of all of the above! Ever since we started, I’ve always been a big supporter of finding people who do work you like, give something in that vein a go, and see if it’s something you’re even remotely capable of. I’m not suggesting new photographers go out & copy work (especially not specific images), but I am saying that it’s good to have something particular to strive for and I’ve even gone so far as to reach out to the artists who create these inspirations to get help on achieving this look. More often than not, they were very supportive and forthcoming with information, which is very in line with how we try to be – help your fellow artist climb! After I felt like I had reasonably accomplished a certain look (or realized that it wasn’t in the cards in some cases), I would take the things that I found fit into my metaphorical “toolbelt” and apply them to how we did things… and that’s how we’d have influences, but truly have a thing of our own! It’s how your style develops over time and how it evolves (stagnant art isn’t going to take you far and is going to do your artistic soul even less favors).

That’s a lot of rambling, I know, but if something is worth discussing, it’s worth full fledged delving into! The first photographer whose work I’ve been digging is @abrowntable on instagram. While we’ve always been fans of dark, moody pictures – our own personal work (outside of Alchemy images) tends to be lighter, happier, more vibrant, and easy on the shadows… ABT’s work took those shadows and ran with it in a way I’d dare say I was afraid to. This pushed me to try lighting more dramatic and editing in a way that sometimes even put MORE shadows in (vs lessening them). I’ll by no means say we landed on anything resembling their work, but I can happily say it was a shift in editing/shooting for us… and we learned from it and will use some of the techniques again! At one point, I had to shoot the finished plates with very little space and resorted to using my attached on-camera flash, bouncing it off to the side onto a paper plate, which bounced it back down onto the dish… this actually felt rewarding in that I got to take a rather cramped, not-good-for-umbrella situation and still make it work! It wouldn’t be my go-to way to do things here on out, of course, but knowing I could pull it off in a pinch feels like a win!

This play session came to us by the way of our good bud Catherine Carter (“Cat” as we know her). She’s the one that was behind the awesome Edible Charlotte issues you saw us partake in a couple years ago! She said she had a lot of food left over from a trip to the coast & wanted to invite anyone to partake as Chef Alyssa would be preparing the dishes (and you know that means super yum)! Before everyone dug in, Cat gave us the scoop on our feast:

“Most of you know that I have spent the last week traveling along the SC coast. On the way back, I got to visit several chef friends who had relocated to the Myrtle Beach area to teach at Horry County Technical School. David Quintana and Joe Bonaparte sent me home with a bunch of their charcuterie and Geoff Blount threw in a foccacia loaf and a baguette. On top of that, I stopped at two local fish markets and brought back a haul of fresh shrimp and some vermilion snapper. At the second market, I randomly met the dad of friend and co-owner of Free Range Brewing Brittany Bailey Alexander.”

I was thrilled that she not only invited us, but that she (and Alyssa) let me make them a sorta guinea pig for some experimentation without any pressure or need to deliver this or that. We’ll definitely post more of these (and some will be kept secret, as they’ll likely work their way into the Penguin image bank… another aspect to trying this is making our own “mood boards” vs having to lean so heavily on pinterest)… but all in all – it’s us openly admitting we have so much we want to learn, thanking those who still support, hoping that maybe someone who was afraid to reach out to THEIR inspiration might get that extra kick, and maybe just yelling into the void (because for all we know – you guys skip right to the pretties and never read my rambles ;D) Hope you enjoy!

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