Photography: Nino Franco Photo Contest

... and the winner is ...

Photography: Heather Gill

A Chef, A Photographer. A Storyteller.

Comfort Food Contest Winner

A Comforting Italian Trifle

Photography: Stuart Ovenden

"It's all about the details!"

Welcome Back Bord Bia - Irish Food Bord

Name Sponsor for From Plate to Page

Welcome to From Plate to Page

Are you:

  • a food blogger who has been blogging for a while and feels stuck in a creative rut?

  • happy with your writing but feel your photography needs work - or vice versa?

  • tired of attending traditional format conferences where you are one of dozens of bloggers simply listening and taking notes ?

If so, then From Plate to Page is what you need!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Photography: “It’s all about the details” by Stuart Ovenden

SOvenden_SpottedDick Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

It will not come as a surprise to you that I am a very visual person. I need to be able to visualize the details, the colors, the mood and the atmosphere to really be able to attach myself to the idea or the vision. About a year ago I stumbled across Stuart's blog Appledrane and instantly devoured the images I saw there. I loved the way he plays with light and the way he executes the finer details in the images creating a fascinating story. As we connected, I just had to ask him to come over to the Plate to Page website and share some of his valuable expertise. I was thrilled he said yes! Hope you enjoy our guest feature with the talented Stuart Ovenden.

- Meeta


For me it's all about the details. The length of a shadow, the way a spoon rests against a glass, a gentle fold of a napkin, a soft dapple of sunlight - these subtleties might only crackle quietly in the subconscious of the viewer, but if judged well, they can engage, excite and trigger a genuine emotional response. This is what I look for when I'm reading a food magazine, website or cookery book; as a result I try to make this a considered aspect of my own work.

The way that I shoot my own recipe pictures for my blog has changed completely in the past year. It's become quicker, more spontaneous and less fussy. This way of working is intended as a deliberate response to my day-to-day work, which is predominantly studio based and is altogether a lengthier process. I like the idea that I can just grab some bits from my prop cupboard, create a little set and get the shot done and dusted in minutes.

SOvenden_Forest Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

When one is taking photographs in the studio, light is easier to manipulate; there is usually only a single source. Shadows can be filled or darkened easily; the same goes for the diffusion of light. Shooting outside presents its own unique challenges - but there is still a strong aspect of light manipulation involved. If one sets up in an open space during the middle of the day, light will invariably be top-heavy, hitting the subject from every possible angle and flattening a shot in the process. Sometimes I find it's simply a case of setting up next to a huddle of trees or a wall; often that’s enough to block off a bit of light and nudge in a touch of side-shadow.

SOvenden_Brambling Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

Your choice of props underpins the success of a shot – I’m always on the hunt for new surfaces, plates and anything that has a quirky edge about it. If you’ve only a small prop collection it’s a good idea to work backwards; make the recipe fit with the lush chopping board that you’ve just found at a Boot Fair rather than the other way around. I often hold back some recipe ideas for months until the final piece of the prop jigsaw has presented itself.

SOvenden_Sausage Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

My advice to aspiring food photographers is not to bogged down with kit envy – learn to master the camera that you have. I honestly think that clever, thought-through ideas can transcend the restrictions of technology. I've seen dull, uninspiring shots produced by photographers using £20K + Medium Format cameras, in contrast to blogger's shots taken on entry-level DSLRs that fizz with imagination and flair. Before I got my MK2 a few years ago, I was shooting blog posts on a cheap Canon 1000D (see the fruit salad shot as an example). I'd still happily have some of those early shots in my portfolio today.

SOvenden_Fruit Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

I asked Stuart to answer a few quick fire questions to get a better insight of the talented man behind the camera. Hope you enjoy finding out more about Stuart.

Biggest inspiration?
The Countryside.  

Which camera do you use the majority of the time?
A Canon 5D MK2

You can only have one lens for the rest of your life, what is it?
It’d have to be the Canon EF 50mm f1.2.

Which photo are you currently most proud of?


SOvenden_Walnuts Photo: Copyright Stuart Ovenden

I took a still-life of a cup of Walnuts on location in France during the summer - I'm still really proud of it. Often food ID shots take a fair bit of work to get right, but this was very much a case of everything coming together in an instant. Lovely props bought from a Brocante that morning, soft evening light and shot in a couple of frames.

Prime or zoom?
Prime. It’s easy to become a bit “Zoom happy” when out in the field shooting; I’d rather crop in later rather than wish I hadn’t come in quite so tight when the shot was taken.

You could have anyone in the world take your portrait, who is it?
Probably Terry Richardson. I’d be less interested in the shot itself, more intrigued to find out if he’s quite as insane as he appears to be.

What was your proudest moment in your photography career so far?
Shooting the cover of BBC Good Food was a very proud moment for me; it’s the biggest food magazine in the UK and gave me some great exposure.

If you could tell yourself anything when you first started out, what would you say?
As frustrating as it is, you can’t win them all. Often on a shoot, the recipe, prop styling, food styling and composition all click together in an instant; it’s a joy when it happens that way and should never be taken for granted. There will always be the flipside to these moments though. Do the best job you can, but don’t dwell on things that are out of your control.

Where are you from?
I was born and grew up in Kent but now live in Hampshire with my family. It’s a beautiful part of the country and a constant source of inspiration for me.

Favorite photography website?
It’s a common answer I know, but Katie Quinn Davies has a great eye for a photo.

Who have you learned the most from?
As an Art Director I’ve been very lucky to work with some of most respected food photographers in the UK - I’d like to think that I’ve learnt a little bit from all of them. When I look back I’ll always be especially grateful to Gareth Morgans, Myles New and David Loftus for helping me when I started out; they were extremely generous with their advice, encouragement and letting me borrow kit.

How old are you?
I’m 32!

About Stuart Ovenden

London based food photographer Stuart Ovenden has spent over half a decade working with some of the biggest names in the UK food industry. He is a passionate Forager and Cook, regularly writing and photographing recipes for his popular blog, Appledrane. Stuart's recent clients include BBC Good Food, Olive, BBC America, Leith's Cookery School and Book Guild Publishing.

Website: Appledrane
Twitter: @stuovenden

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Welcome back to our name sponsor Bord Bia!

To sustain - a wonderful word that can be defined as "to supply with necessities", "to support from below" or "to support the spirits or resolution". It is a word that has been much on our mind lately at Plate to Page HQ as we continue to sustain relationships with our fellow instructors, with our wonderful past workshop participants, as well as our incredible past sponsors, many of whom have sponsored us more than once. Of course, the definitions above can also be applied to the role that our sponsors play, supplying us with necessities like wine, food and good bag gifts - but more importantly, sustaining us in spirit with their generous advice and encouragement.

And we like to think that it is as a result of our sustained relationships with various sponsors that we are now proud and privileged to welcome back our original name sponsor, Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board), who took a chance on us and  sponsored our very first workshop in Weimar in May 2011.  Bord Bia have confirmed that they are joining us once again as name sponsors for Plate to Page Ireland in 2013, and here is what Maeve Desmond, International Communications Manager of Bord Bia, had to say:

Bord Bia – the Irish Food Board - are delighted to support the Plate to Page workshop being hosted in Ireland in 2013. Ireland is very lucky to have a vibrant and passionate food blogging community which Bord Bia have supported over the last few years and we are very excited that Plate to Page will visit Ireland to experience our wonderful food offerings and meet some of our wonderful food producers and bloggers! We wish Plate to Page every success and we warmly welcome food bloggers travelling to Ireland for the event.

The idea of sustaining and nurturing also fits in well with the Origin Green Sustainability Charter developed by Bord Bia - an innovative ongoing voluntary programme that seeks to demonstrate the commitment of Irish food and drink manufacturers, both large and small, to operating in the most sustainable manner possible. Origin Green offers a structure that allows individual companies to communicate key sustainability issues, set targets and regularly report progress in achieving short, medium and long term goals. Bord Bia will publish participation and categorise companies relative to the progress they achieve against their stated targets.

Origin Green enables the Irish food & drink industry to demonstrate individually and collectively its commitments to sustainability, and provide the evidence that retailers, foodservices operators and manufacturers around the world are looking for.  Companies are asked to sign up to the Origin Green sustainability Charter by developing and implementing a multi-annual sustainability action plan. These plans and then annual progress reports are verified by a world leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, The SGS Group.

As part of Bord Bia's involvement in From Plate to Page Ireland, we will be sharing some more information about this wonderful initiative - and don't go away because the Plate to page team and Bord Bia might have a couple of surprise giveaways up our sleeve for you  in the run-up to Plate to Page Ireland!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Goodie bag giveaway - with a twist


Food is front and center at every Plate to Page workshop: we write about it, style it, photograph it; we study it as we would some work of art. We live and breathe the food we must analyze, study, translate into words and capture in images. Color, odor, shape and texture, food pervades every shot and every exercise. Our workshop revolves around food. It is, after all, why we are there. As any food blogger or professional writer or photographer knows, food inspires our creativity, our passions and feeds our senses. It is, as they say, our bread and butter.

Yet food plays an even bigger role at Plate to Page, one we often take for granted. Once we get beyond the visual, once we close our laptops and put down our cameras, we gather around tables laden with an abundance of tasty dishes and bottles of liquid refreshment and there we look not only for sustenance to see us through an emotional, passionate weekend, but we find satisfaction and, yes, comfort.

Comfort is found in that very first meal; a lunch of sizzling bratwurst or thin slices of prosciutto on fresh ciabatta, bowls of fresh fruit and local cheese as one by one instructors and participants arrive for the Plate to Page weekend.  We glance around nervously at new faces, not knowing what to expect, not knowing how to break the ice. Conversation over a plateful of food, a glass of wine always seems easier, a common subject is found, the warmth of a good meal bringing contented laughter and confidence to even the shyest among us. We linger over our food, carrying plates and glasses into that very first session, not quite ready to let go of the comfort and familiarity of a first shared meal.

Comfort is found in a hot mug of milky coffee or a steaming cup of tea, a bowl of muesli, hot eggs and toast with cheese; we stumble down that first morning exhausted from the previous day’s work, the long night sitting up chatting with new friends, a bit nervous and embarrassed to be seen with our bedheads and morning faces, often still in our pajamas before who were just yesterday mere strangers. But there is comfort in a shared breakfast as pinpricks of sunshine seep through the window panes, as the chill of the early morning sneaks into the rambling kitchen. Plates are passed around, dishes clatter as the food works its magic, warms us inside and out. 

You may have heard a lot about our Plate to Page workshops -  the fun, the conviviality, the camaraderie, the inspiration, the hard work! But you must have also heard that we have the best, most generous sponsors, the best goodie bags anywhere. And now we have one for you. Indulge us with a little game, a little exercise in the P2P spirit and you may be the lucky winner of one truly fabulous Plate to Page goodie bag! 

Write and shoot along with us for your chance to win the exact same goodie bag we offered our workshop students at the Somerset Plate to Page workshop!

For our very first GIVEAWAY we simply ask you to write a short blog post of 500 - 800 words accompanied by 1 - 2 photos based on the theme COMFORT FOOD. Let your mind wander and find inspiration where it will, but a written post with photographs about Comfort Food will enter you to win the goodie bag. 

1) Post your submission on your own blog by Tuesday DECEMBER 1, making sure you mention Plate to Page as well as the giveaway and linking back to the Plate to Page website and this post. 
2) Leave a link to your blog post submission as a comment on this post or send it to us at platetopage AT gmail DOT com.

We ,  Jeanne, Ilva, Jamie and Meeta - will collect your entries and choose the winner. THE WINNER OF THE P2P GOODIE BAG WILL BE ANNOUNCED HERE AND ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE ON DECEMBER 6. 

INCLUDED IN THE GOODIE BAG PRIZE ARE: three cookbooks and Donald Russell cooking guidesSally Williams's almond nougat, one jar of The Garlic Farm toasted garlic mayo, one jar ginger of vegetarian CaviArt, two beautiful ceramic Edge of Belgravia knives, and two aprons.

And don’t worry, our generous sponsors have sent us so many extra goodies that there are more books and products to go around.... and we will have more giveaways between now and the Plate to Page Ireland workshop in May 2013!

Please note that owing to postage costs and customs levies we can only send the goodie bag to winners in Europe.  But even if you are not in Europe, you are still most welcome to participate and get feedback from the Plate to Page instructors - and you will still feature on our website if you impress us with your entry.