I have plenty of experience in front of the lens, but haven’t a clue what to do behind it! So I jumped at the opportunity to learn from some of LA’s most insanely talented restaurant/food bloggers, Daily Gluttony and The Kitchy Kitchen at Cube Cafe this weekend.

Jewels in front, and now behind the camera
You didn’t exactly have to twist my arm once I read “Not only will you practice capturing the gastronomical splendor of Cube Cafe’s menu which changes constantly with the seasons, but you will taste the much-loved cooking, as well as meet the faces behind Cubes pure charm.” BTW, that was an understatement, the food was ridiculously fresh, clean, and beyond luscious.
Taking aim on better food photographs
Don’t be mislead by Pam and Claire’s beauty, they are dead serious about being the best when it comes to food photography, and along with Tony on the more technical points, cover ground quickly to include exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance. Lost? I know it all sounds like Greek to me too, but by golly I do think I am beginning to grasp it. Practice should make perfect.
Heirloom Tomato & Fresh Peach with Buffalo Mozzarella
The idea is to find something on the plate that catches your eye, and let that become your focal point. For me, it was the texture of the mozzarella. Then try the shot from different angles, therefore light. The hidden surprise, once I tasted the dish, was the sweet juicy peach that balanced the acidity from the six year old balsamic well, and paired beautifully with the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.
Black Truffle Pizze, Mozzarella, and Fried Egg
It was hard to concentrate once the truffle pizze arrived, the aroma made me swoon. The budding photographer within waited impatiently, totally obsessed with piercing the yolks…
Oozing thick, rich decadence in aromatic truffle heaven
I was anxious for the chaos of the yolk to run freely, so that textures and color would provoke a less pristine, yet infinitely more interesting picture. For some reason I find half eaten, broken down food more inspiring. I want people to taste the food through the photos rather than just observe it.
Pancetta Wrapped Porchetta, Creamy Polenta, and Roasted Broccoli
I was fascinated with telling the story bite by bite, shooting in shadow, and how to rectify a picture in post production when the natural light is not providing the ideal situation. I had to work fast, as I couldn’t wait for my bite of sublime flavors and textures. The salty crispy pancetta wrapped around succulent pork, the crunch of broccoli, and creamy- cheesy polenta done to perfection. Pure bliss on a fork, but note to self, do not attend Phototasting hungry in future.
White Nectarine Shortcake, Lemon Verbena, and Fresh Cream
Then there are times you need a little distance (like this tantalizing dessert threatening to destroy my diet – thankfully it was a one bite tasting). I liked the red decor complimenting the raspberry sauce on the plate, and the moodiness of the bar blurring in the background – mirroring my own conflicted feelings about digging into the expertly balanced sweetness of the crumbly shortcake coupled with the silky lemon verbena and fragrant chunks of white nectarine exuding pillows of fresh whipped cream.

Jen, Jewels, and Pam: Phototasting at Cube Cafe
Apart from the divine dining, Cube Cafe has a market full of imported Italian wines, amazing artisan cheeses, freshly made pastas, oils etc. They also have a blog featuring their fabulous recipes, plus both Chef Erin Eastland and Pastry Chef Jun Tan offer cooking classes in their downtown LA location. A very tasty and vastly informative experience indeed. I can’t wait for Phototasting‘s next venture in October. What interests you most about food photography?
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  • August 1, 2010
    8:05 pm

    The dessert picture is my favourite, not the 'usual' close up, but showing the contest too. It looks very yummy, too! Getting the texture and yumminess to show isn't easy!

  • August 1, 2010
    8:25 pm

    LOVE!!!Thank you so much for coming yesterday! I had so much fun and it was SUCH a pleasure meeting you! (And yes, I have to admit I am still a little star struck-heehee)You photos look great! Keep it up and have fun practicing!

  • August 1, 2010
    9:50 pm

    Dessert shot was indeed, fantastic. It is absolutely possible to get nice bokeh with a point & sheet. Thank you for joining us!

  • August 1, 2010
    10:20 pm

    Such a pleasure to be there. I'm so excited you turned me onto Cube – the tasting was the perfect tease – I'm so going back for a full meal a.s.a.p! The journey has just begun, and you were all such great inspiration. It was a lot for a novice to take in, in just a few hours, so I'll be diligently practicing and awaiting the next one!

  • August 1, 2010
    10:41 pm

    Wow Jewels! And you were sitting there saying, I don't know what I'm doing with your camera! Girl, you KNOW what to do with that camera! Your pics are great.Oh and good job on the Mozzarella. I had to fix mine in post to get the texture to show up. Heh.I just had my photos up on Flickr but haven't blogged yet. You can check back later on my food blog at http://hmmfoodgood.blogspot.com

  • August 2, 2010
    5:11 am

    These pics are awesome 🙂 you can see the texture of every bite .

  • August 2, 2010
    10:08 am

    These pictures speak a thousand words or a thousand taste buds and that dessert…….oh lordy you can just feel the pounds piling on looking at it!

  • August 2, 2010
    5:57 pm

    Contrary to popular belief you can not gain weight looking at food photos little amanda, but thanks for the kudos everyone.

  • August 2, 2010
    9:58 pm

    What time will you be serving this beautiful little number?Dorah Caulfield

  • August 2, 2010
    10:12 pm

    It disappeared minutes within all of us taking it's picture, sorry!

  • August 3, 2010
    11:01 am

    I love photographing my food. I love to remember the taste just by looking at it. Photographing my food is just as important as photographing the people and places I visit. Food is part of the overall experience.~April

  • August 3, 2010
    12:46 pm

    I really like mid cook pictures in a cookery book – that's why I love Nigella Lawsons books – "Nigella Bites" being my favourite. Pictures of the finished dish are great but I like to see what it looks like half way through – it seems to help asuage the panic that grips if I feel I'm not doing it right 😉

  • August 3, 2010
    5:12 pm

    Yum Jewels, 3 of my favorite bites!!!!!Carly Guerrero

  • August 3, 2010
    5:16 pm

    've never had this with sliced peaches before – have you? it was delicious!

  • August 3, 2010
    5:22 pm

    JT – sometimes the food photographs midway through the process better too! One thing I'm learning though, the more pics in a book, the more expensive it is to publish. That's why you see that more in mid-century cookbooks than today.

  • August 3, 2010
    6:42 pm

    No. Can't decide what peach to choose for this. I'm gonna make it to for vacation time in a couple weeksCarly Guerrero

  • August 3, 2010
    6:43 pm

    Those are GREAT photos!!!!!!!!! You are AMAZING BFF!!!!!!! xxxxxxx'sSammy Phillips

  • August 3, 2010
    6:44 pm

    Just your run of the mill yellow peach, and it went especially well with the heirloom tomatoes.

  • August 3, 2010
    8:11 pm

    Julie- I don't think we met on Saturday, but I was there too! Your photos look fab! So glad to know about your blog now. Very very cool!Best!!Jacquelinehttp://rocketlunch.blogspot.com/

  • August 3, 2010
    9:11 pm

    I really like the approach of broken down and eating in progress, it says "yes the food can be pretty but it IS meant to be eaten". Very nice work!Kelly McAllister Hulse

  • August 4, 2010
    12:18 am

    I love introducing a dish to my inlaws, Ray, my brother in law would not eat any vegetable until I served my greenbean casserole. This is why I like your dishes. I'm even gonna buy and boil and skin beets, lol.Carly Guerrero

  • August 4, 2010
    12:19 am

    Your foodie adventurism has made my day Carly!

  • August 4, 2010
    6:06 am

    I would have to vote for the first picture, the texture of the cheese, the shiny drizzle of vinegar/oil drawing just the right amount of light towards it without taking away from the other elements. I've never been one for taking pictures, always hated having my picture taken. But now, I really see where pictures are so necessary. In this case to entice us with a visual that is so clear that it makes you almost feel as if you are there and can smell the food. Your photos are beautiful and do the amazing food justice. I think I need to try to replicate that salad, even if only for myself and it's your photo that makes me want to taste this dish. Looking at a recipe that doesn't have a great photo with it makes it so difficult for me to get a feel for the dish. Hope I can learn to take great photos like you have, but mine will have different subject matter – I love looking at people's hands, they seem to tell me as much as looking at their faces.

  • August 4, 2010
    12:05 pm

    How exciting!What a fab time you had….would have loved to have been there. Mind you, I think I would have eaten the food and camera too(only kidding)! It all looks so, so good. Great job with the camera.Aussie Mum

  • August 4, 2010
    5:17 pm

    What absolutely fabulous photos and write-up! You nailed it! It was such a pleasure workshopping with you, and I'm delighted to be acquainted with your blog now too!

  • August 4, 2010
    6:00 pm

    seems like you have it down perfectly (of course).Madeleine Gallay

  • August 4, 2010
    6:01 pm

    I think the best thing about food photography is just the beauty. The colors and the shapes of the dishes. It measures up with concert photography :)Carly Guerrero

  • August 6, 2010
    12:23 am

    Julie-I thought for sure that I had left a comment for you, but I don't see it. I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you how fabulous your photos look! And I totally dig your blog. Hope we'll meet someday… perhaps the next Phototasting!xox!Jacquelinehttp://rocketlunch.blogspot.com/