Penny De Los Santos Food Photography Workshop

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Mar 16, 2010 at 3:31pm

I’m back from San Francisco and the food photography workshop I mentioned below.  Our instructor, Penny De Los Santos, photographer for National Geographic and Saveur magazine, was completely inspirational.  (Check out her blog, incredible.)  In fact the whole experience was, beginning with the morning’s activities, hosted at magical Contigo restaurant in Noe Valley.  The food they prepared for us to photograph – look at it!  Juicy, crunchy, bursting with color and texture.  Beautifully plated with a deceptive simplicity (try this at home and you’ll realize how difficult it is to make food look this casually fabulous).  And of course delicious, although I only stole a bite here and there (there were 25 of us – forks were flying!).  Next time I’m in SF, I’m back there for a glass of wine and roasted sardines before I even unpack my bag.  Done.

For the afternoon, our assignment was to head out onto the streets in The Mission to engage with and photograph people, food, people with food, street scenes, detail, light.  I…struggled.  I’m (like) the guy who won’t ask for directions, yeah, I avoid interacting with people I don’t know.  What’s up with that?  I don’t like to be bothered, so I don’t want to bother people?  That, and despite outward appearances, I’m actually rather shy.  It didn’t help that in the first group I asked to photograph, I saw as I focused my camera that one of the guys was giving me the finger.  Hello!  (And no, I didn’t snap the picture, I just bolted, damn!)

From there I got flustered, and when I did ask people if I could photograph them, I took the pictures so fast and uncomfortably that they were either out of focus, poorly framed, terribly lit, or all of the above.  Which was too bad – my classmates’ photos revealed the real connections they made with the people they talked with and photographed.  Thank goodness we all gathered together at the end of the day to show each other our work, I saw things in a completely new way.  (And wished there were a second day to get up my courage and try again!  A homework assigment for myself…)

Despite all that – and of course because of it – I learned so much.  And met the most incredibly fun and talented people!  Huge thanks to lovely ladies Chez Us, Bon Vivant, and A Sweet Spoonful for a blast of a lunch and tons of help and advice.

Tired?  What with (not) sleeping in a rundown B&B (I’ll never, ever do that again, done with that concept), hauling my overly heavy camera/computer bag around, pushing way out of my comfort zone, and being unable to find a cab at the end of the day, I could hardly see by the time I got back to my room.

And it was awesome.

Thanks Penny!


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Older Comments

  1. By SML on March 24, 2010 at 9:01AM

    Thanks Megan! I'm so happy to have met you too - made my whole day, truly, thanks for letting me tag along with you! Thanks for the feedback, that was quite a day. Ha, yes, I did survive the B&B, now a good part of the story...because it's over. Yes, finally some sunshine, and I believe 70s next week, which is a little scary. But GOOD!

  2. By Megan Gordon on March 23, 2010 at 9:51PM

    Yay, Steph! Great to see your photos and your perspective on the day. I'm so happy to have met you (one of my favorite parts about these events) and glad that you survived the B & B to tell about it. Hope you're getting a little Spring sunshine starting to peek through...

  3. By SML on March 18, 2010 at 5:25AM

    Hi Lexi! Thanks for the info, I'll look into it right away. I actually joined about 7 years ago, but wasn't sure what I was doing yet, so didn't attend a conference and let my membership lapse. This time, I'm ready :) Great to hear from you and congratulations on The Culinary Trust board seat. They're lucky to have you! Happy Spring - Stephanie

  4. By Light-Hearted Locavore on March 16, 2010 at 8:36PM

    SML -- Stopped by FreshTart tonight (thanks to AZ's pineapple pic). I like all your recent posts and new look in the photos. I want to be sure you know about the International Association of Culinary Professionals (iacp.com). IACP is a trade organization for culinary educators, authors, photographers, stylists, star chefs, and media folks -- tv, magazines and FOOD BLOGGERS. There's an annual conference with great workshops -- this year is Portland in late April -- and teleseminars and lots of networking. I am joining the board in April for the foundation -- The Culinary Trust. Anyhow, you should absolutely join and come to Portland next month if you can. If not this year, next year's conference is in Austin. Julia Chld was an active member for decades and other luminaries are active as well. Check it out.