Commercial food photography for The Canadian Cottage

Canadians are recognised internationally as a friendly bunch so as I’ve got to know a local Wirral-based business called the Canadian Cottage, working together made a lot of sense. The Canadian Cottage aims to bring products popular in Canada to British tummies – and in my case Canadians tummies living in Britain!

Laura, who is the brains behind the business, asked me to shoot some pictures of her lovely goodies – without eating them first. Well, she didn’t actually say I couldn’t eat them but I cleverly realised that if I ate everything there would be nothing to shoot so I adopted the “no eating policy” as a basic code to abide by…

We started out with a few profile shots of Laura and then moved onto the goodies – starting with the maple cookies. I’ve ordered from the Canadian Cottage a couple of times and Laura asked me what my favourite is… Without even thinking I said the maple cookies.  These double layer custard cream-esk cookies with their maple buttercream centres take some beating in my mind.

Then there were the Nanaimo bars. When I make them they taste quite nice but are all a bit of a mess with ragged edges and crumbly bits – Laura’s were perfect to look at so after envying them (and then photographing them) we moved onto the peanut butter truffles.  And then the butter tarts, maple pecan tarts, chocolate chip cookies, ginger cookies, peanut butter cookies and the banana bread.  Is your mouth watering yet?  In the Canadian Cottage shop there are a couple of selection party packs you can buy so I took some photographs showing what these looked like as well.

    

We worked outside in the garden under the shade of an umbrella so the lighting was lovely and soft and the weather was fantastic. So there I am outside in the sun, enjoying being warm, photographing some of my favourite things to photograph while being able to discuss Canadian things to someone that understands.  We both agreed that this work stuff took some beating.

And to top it off, when we were done I left the shoot with a little care pack of cookies. Oh my goodness – the Peanut Butter cookies.  Are these my new favourites…?  I just ordered some.  And some of the ginger ones too.  I mean it would be wrong not to give this lovely company my business, right…?! 😉

You can find out more on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/TheCanadianCottage/

And most importantly if you want to buy something, go here:

https://the-canadian-cottage.myshopify.com/

The Woodcote House Hotel

Last weekend I was invited to take a few pictures at the Woodcote House Hotel in Hooton to help out with their website and advertising.

When I arrived, I was welcomed not only by new owners, Kelly and Phil, but also by the friendly team that works there. I got to hear about the improvements that are planned for the hotel, however, I also learned that in the meantime, it is certainly worth a visit. They have some lovely bedrooms which you get into through colourfully painted doorways via a very enchanting garden. The hotel also serves a rather amazing looking afternoon tea with the cakes all hand made on the premises.

Here are a few of the pictures I took – hopefully they tempt you enough to want to pay a visit.

As for me, the next time I go, I’m going to make sure I eat the afternoon tea rather than just taking pictures of it.

Retrospect

noun

a survey or review of a past course of events or period of time. “a full retrospect of the battle”

And Retrospect is also the name of a Bury based band which I had the pleasure of photographing last week. Retrospect plays a mix of covers and have a really cool ska sound. (You can hear them here: https://soundcloud.com/retrospectbury) The introduction to the band was again through Emily (thank-you) who is friends with Mark, the trumpeter.

Mark had said he wanted some promotional photography of the group (as opposed to pictures of them playing at a gig).  I did a bit of research on band photography and had a few ideas of what I thought might work.  I headed across to their practice studio last Friday and set myself up while listening to the band practice for a performance the following night. I found some roller shutter doors outside which I thought might work well as a background and I also thought I could do something with the stairs up to the practice room. I used the practice area itself as my mini mobile studio with its long dark curtains as the backdrop. I took some shots with instruments and some without, some where everyone was smiling and some where they were not. As an experiment I tried some shots with the lights flashing off behind the band to try to get them as silhouettes. I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to work out but the band was very accommodating in letting me “play”. I think these pictures actually ended up being the ones I like best from the shoot.

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I always like to reflect on what I learned during these shoots as I like to feel like I’m progressing and moving forward with my photography. So here we go…

  • I learned that posing a group of adults is entirely different from posing a family with children. Balloons and bubbles as props are not really appropriate here!
  • My experiment worked with the silhouettes! Lesson being it is good to experiment and take risks – perhaps after getting some “safe shots” in the bag. And really – what’s the worst that can happen?
  • Having three different spots to take pictures in one shoot (one outside, one inside using natural lights and one inside using studio lights) forced some quick thought about camera settings to adjust to each of these very different levels of light.
  • Going prepared with ideas of poses is proving to be a good tool for my bag.
  • I need to be clear and specific when giving directions on what I want from my subjects including body positioning and facial expressions.
  • Post processing always seems to take longer than I think! I try to do a high level review of the files at first removing the ones that are really obviously weird in some way (exposure wrong, eye’s shut or whatever) and then follow that up with a more refined pass over them. Coming back to the pictures over a couple of nights works better for me than trying to do them all in one night. If I’ve been working on them for a while and then leave them and come back to them with fresh eyes, I often discover I’ve pushed things a bit far with the processing and have to bring it back to a more natural look…
  • Black and white seems to work best for these type of shots.

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I am having a little break from portrait photography for now (other than snapping shots of Paul and Stella, of course!) as we’re heading off on our holidays to the Yorkshire Moors at the end of next week. Fingers crossed for some stunning landscape pictures instead!? When we get back, I’ll be thinking about Emily’s BBQ and plans for taking pictures there – including getting some shots of the above mentioned Mark, his wife and their quickly growing bump! 🙂