The Perfect Weekend Workshop in Alabama

Meringue Cookies

The Dessert Challenge – Meringue Cookies

Ham Sandwich

I was stylist – dark and moody

It is times like this that I wish I was a writer in addition to being a photographer. I would have more words to express the feelings that I have about the most fantastic weekend that I just had.

To cut to the chase, I was at a food photography workshop with Helene Dujardin and Clare Barboza. I’ve read Helene’s book, Plate to Pixel, but to be perfectly honest and slightly embarrassed, I had never heard of Clare until I registered for this conference. If you are reading this, stop now and click on their links and spend some time looking at their amazing work (just don’t forget to come back.)


Welcome back. The workshop was with our two mentors, chef and stylist Laura Vein (boy, was that food good!), her assistant and two time workshop participant, Libby and twelve other photographers. These four amazing women catered to the every need of all the attendees, from about five different types of milk for coffee and probably a dozen different types of wine-lots of wine 🙂 and of course, our photographic needs.

Red PearThe workshop took place in a beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I was very excited about it because I love Helene and Clare’s work and it is all natural light. I needed to be pushed to do more natural light.

Grape Tomato

Everyone lived in the house which comfortably fit the 17 of us. We were living and working together the entire time…this made it extremely special. From early morning breakfast, until going to sleep, we lived and worked as a well oiled machine. It was amazing! I could hardly wait for the next day to begin.

Beef Vegetable Soup

We were issued challenges, some working alone and some working in pairs but, always helping each other and learning from each other. Helene and Clare would circulate while we were shooting and offer the most amazing suggestions and more importantly, confidence building. They found the positive in everyone’s work and built on it.

Strawberry salad

I am photographer on the produce challenge

Meringue Cookies

Meringue Cookies

So, there were five challenges. First was dessert. Laura put out a million different types of dessert and we chose what we wanted to shoot and and found ourselves a light source (window or door) to work with. The second challenge was Antipasto. Same thing…lots to choose from. On the second day, we worked in teams of two with two challenges. Each team were issued slightly different challenges. In one challenge you were the stylist and the other you were the photographer…team building at its best. My partner and I had a dark and moody sandwich for a cookbook and produce for an ad in minimalist style.

Beef and Vegetable Soup The final day was about ugly food. We were each issued a can of soup and told to make it look beautiful. I can’t believe how a dozen photographers can take a dozen cans of soup and make a dozen works of art. Awesome. (Of course I would like to take credit for the success of my photo but, it was really Helene and Clare that provided the guidance and expertise.)

Sandwich Ingredients

Sandwich Cookbook – Dark and Moody

We summed up with our mentors and new friends giving a critique of 6 images from the weekend. What was most amazing is seeing the progress made by each and every one of us in only three short days. This was the most amazing workshop and if you are interested in food photography, I highly recommend it. Helene, Clare, Laura, Libby and my fellow attendees and newest friends – you are the best!

About Jerry

I was a science teacher for 31 years. During that time I photographed wedding and Bar Mitzvahs for about 15 years but that was in the days before digital. Being a teacher, I had my summers free so I assisted food and commercial still life photographers in NYC for 3 summers and fell in love with it. Having a wife and a mortgage, it was not practical to give up a job in teaching and go into photography so I put off my dream of becoming a food photographer until I retired from teaching. Now I am living my dream - I am a food and product photographer servicing New York City, Philadelphia and all of New Jersey.
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2 Responses to The Perfect Weekend Workshop in Alabama

  1. Laura says:

    What a lovely post! Thanks for all your kind words. It was such a pleasure to meet you 🙂

  2. Karen says:

    It was great meeting you Jerry! Absolutely agree with your post, a fabulous weekend!!

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