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EVENT REVIEW: Food Photography Masterclass, @DavidGriffen at @Lima_London


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31 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1JH (map)

Peruvian restaurant Lima teamed up with food photographer David Griffen to organise a photography masterclass. I went along to pick up a few food snapping tricks and tips.

Lima Restaurant London - Red amaranth in f/1.8

Lima Restaurant London – Red amaranth in f/1.8

Food photography is an interesting discipline. In the 90’s I watched a documentary about photographers in sterile looking studios ‘faking’ frosty glasses using spray on glycerine drops or using a boiling kettle to give that steaming ‘just cooked’ look. The final scenes saw the photographer scouring over his developed negatives to pick the perfect shot.

Fast forward to today and nearly everyone has a smart phone in their pocket so we can take photographs all day, every day, look at the results instantly, all at nearly zero cost. Fantastic as it makes photography accessible to everyone, however just because we have new tools, we don’t automatically know how to use them.

Lima Restaurant London - How to use a reflector disc

Lima Restaurant London – How to use a reflector disc

David Griffen is a food and lifestyle photographer who was introduced as having recently worked with actor Michael Caine and chef Nathan Outlaw. (He also provided the photography for West Country Cookbook). He explained a few techniques and answered photography questions from the twenty strong crowd. Here are the top five tips I took away from the session.


Lima Restaurant London - Portraiture

Lima Restaurant London – Portraiture

Almost everyone has a camera phone, usually for capturing the guy who first passed-out on at a drinking session. The beauty of the phone is they incredibly portable. I know multiple people who rushed out to buy a huge expensive camera to take up photography as their new hobby. Unfortunately the huge fancy camera comes in a huge bulky size so it usually ends up sat at home. However a camera phone is always with you.


“There should be no stigma in using a cameraphone”

David Griffen

Surprisingly to hear this from a professional photographer, but David claims that many of his iPhone photos have been used in his books. This seems to contradict what I hear from many people, especially those holding a semi-pro or pro camera. Often I hear the quality of mobile phone pictures isn’t good enough for print. I suppose it’s a case of knowing how to use the the equipment in your hand.

Lima Restaurant London - Reflector discs

Lima Restaurant London – Reflector discs


David encouraged us to arrange for lighting to come from the side, rather than head on. This casts a shadow and enhances the detail and definition in the texture of the food. Conversely, if you have too much shadow, use a white card or a reflector to make sure that the subject is properly lit. A white or silver card or reflector for a more natural light or a gold reflector for a ‘warmer’ light.


Many restaurants seem to have yellow tungsten lights. David encouraged us to ask (a non-busy) restaurant to temporarily switch them off to avoid a yellow haze.


Lima Restaurant London - Watchful eye

Lima Restaurant London – Watchful eye

Instead of simply taking photos of completed dishes, David encouraged us to think of the ‘story’ of the food. Ideally the journey of fish coming out of the water, the fisherman, the fishmonger, the kitchen and then to the plate. Obviously this wasn’t very practical, however we did get into the kitchen to watch the chefs at work.


The event was a lot more useful than expected. I was semi-prepared for a session of basic rules. However the use of lighting tips, combined with a little experimentation and extremely photogenic food from Lima, helped to make a fascinating night.

PHOTOGRAPHY: David Griffen
Ww: www.davidgriffen.co.uk
Fb: griffenphotography
Tw: @DavidGriffen

Ad: 31 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1JH (map)
Mon – Sat: Lunch 12pm – 2.30pm / Dinner 5.30pm – 10.30pm (last seating)
Ww: www.limalondon.com
Tw: @Lima_London

NOTE: Many thanks to Sauce Communications and Lima Restaurant for the invitation. Lima Restaurant for their very photogenic food and David Griffen for his expertise.

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