Mum and I had great fun on Saturday night. I’d bought us tickets for #foodography which was an event run by the NZ School of Food and Wine. The idea was to teach us how to photograph food and share those photos on Instagram.
So on Saturday morning, my 69 year old mother got a crash course in Instagram, and set up a new account. My sisters and I all followed her, and she followed us. She shared a photo of her pets. The whole time, messages were being exchanged back and forth on Viber. “I’ve followed you, make sure you follow me!” “I am following you!” “Yes, I saw that, thank you.”
We weren’t really sure what to expect of the evening. We’d done something similar as part of one of Auckland’s food festivals a couple of years ago. That one was sponsored by Canon, and we were able to use their lenses, etc., and they had food set up for us to practice photographing. It was great fun and we got some awesome photos of out of it.
This one was run slightly differently. First, we had a talk about Instagram. Things to do (use hash tags!), things not to do (don’t feed the trolls!). For me, I found the difference between stories and feeds to be quite interesting. Most of the rest of it I knew, but I think Mum learned a lot. They gave us a handout with quite a lot of information on it, which was good. And I wrote down a bunch of useful food-related hashtags that were specific to Auckland and NZ.
Then we were split into groups, and sent to different stations. There were three savoury stations which we did first, then two dessert stations. The savoury stations were lamb, chicken and a winter salad. Dessert was chocolate brownie and a panna cotta.
With each station, all the ingredients and garnishes were laid out in separate dishes, and we could choose our own serving plates/bowls, and arrange the food as we wished. This was the part where I really felt like I could have used some more guidance. Food styling is a whole other thing, and I’ve not had any experience with it nor instruction on it. I was definitely winging it. We were supposed to work as pairs and do a ‘practice’ plate, then a final plate. It didn’t end up working like that though. Mum and I tried to do that but were running out of time, and everyone else was just doing a plate each, so we ended up doing that too. I found Mum’s style of plating was more blended, and mine was more focussed on height.
Then we took our creations to tables that had been set up with black tablecloths and overhead lights, and took photos of our creations with our phones. We were given a little guidance with this – use ‘square’ mode for Instagram pics, angles to try, etc. Then we were supposed to post one photo per pair onto Instagram with the hashtag #foodographynz and linking the NZ School of Food and Wine as our location. So that’s what we did. No one else did that. They each took photos of their own creations and shared them. So after the first couple of rounds, that’s what Mum and I ended up doing too.
It was fun to see the other creations appear on Instagram, and also to see the difference between the ones that looked delicious in person and the ones that photographed well. There is a difference!
Mum didn’t post many pictures. I think partly that was because we had to eat our creations in between (this was our dinner!) and so we were all rushing, and the whole process was new to her. She said she really enjoyed the evening though.
The food was really yum, although I wasn’t a fan of the panna cotta dish. The brownie though… Ohmygodsogood.
After we’d done all the courses, they collated a shortlist of ‘finalists’ from the evening. All four of my photos were in there, which was a nice little ego boost. It was interesting looking at the others. Some I felt were just ‘meh’ and some I was totally wowed by and thought were amazing. They gave out a voucher for a free course at the NZ School of Food & Wine to the winning photo.
Overall, a fantastic night. Great meal, lots of fun, and some learning. I felt like the biggest takeaway for me was a serious dose of inspiration/motivation. It fired me up, and I love it when things do that. But I also learned some tips and tricks for Instagram, which is cool. I’m not very active on there, so will have to edit my UK photos and have a play with releasing some of them on there.
I’m not sure if Mum will continue with Instagram or not. She was really interested in what the guest speaker had to say, as she was a ‘hobbyist’ like me and Mum, not a professional (a number of participants were there as part of a food-related business). Also, a gardener, which appealed to Mum as she enjoys gardening too. She was talking about people she’d met and events she’d been able to go to as a result of her participation in Instagram, and I think Mum thought that could be good for her now that she’s retired. We’ll see. Maybe Mum will be the NZ Instagram sensation! But I think she too was inspired and motivated, and definitely keen to practice her food photography skills some more. So stay posted, we may be doing some food styling at our next creative day!