Archive for April 5th, 2012

Indian Summer

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Making a Cookbook

Over the past month I’ve been assisting my partner in putting together a cookbook. Being a trained nutritionist, the book is to be sold to her clients as another means by which to encourage them to eat healthily. All of the recipes here are vegetarian and made from fresh, quality ingredients and have very strong and distinct flavours. Indeed, one of the things that has impressed me so much with these recipes is the surprising and delightful mix of flavours they all exhibit.

These photos were compiled over three separate shoots, all of them taken in or near the kitchen in which they were prepared. I found it a rather challenging task to get the best results – questions of lighting, focus, colour, background. Not being a professional food photographer and not wishing to do a great deal more than present the food as it appears, I generally kept the backgrounds and compositions as simple as possible. Ultimately, as we entered the photographs into the cookbook template, using an online self-publishing service, we found that square-cut images fit best, further limiting the presentation to, essentially, a close-up of the bowl or plate and contents. In some cases there were issues with the colour balance of the photos due to reflected internal light, and hence the dishes might occasionally appear overdone. This lush, saturated colour seemed in some ways at odds with the natural qualities of the food, yet it does also add a certain attractive vibrancy.

The shoots were hard work but a lot of fun. In a sense I had it easy in that I only had to arrange and take the photos – (You will, however, be pleased to learn that I washed up). I took more than fifty shots of each dish, in some cases as many as a hundred, trying a variety of different lighting conditions and placing the dishes on a range of different surfaces. Funnily enough, the best results came from placing the bowls upon the shiny, reflective surface of a dishwasher that had been removed from its housing to be discarded. It was not only well positioned by the French doors, but also radiated a soft, white, uniform light that helped to clearly illuminate the compositions. I very much lamented the absence of this most excellent surface when doing the final shoot.

Originally planned as a single volume, the book was eventually divided into two slim volumes for Hot Dishes and Salads. We’re both very excited about seeing the final product, which is only a few tweaks away from the press.

Unfortunately, as much as I’d love to offer up the recipes here, so any readers could prepare these dishes if desired, that might defeat the purpose of the exercise in the first place, which is for V. to produce a sellable product. Either way, I hope the photographs steer you in the right direction with your next lunch or dinner option. Eat well and the rest will take care of itself : )

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