The heart of the image
Next year is the centenary of Robert Scott’s ill-fated journey through Antarctica, where on reaching the South Pole he discovered that he had been beaten to his prize by the Norwegian team led by Roald Admunsen and he and his five companions perished on the return journey. The Heart of the Great Alone is an exhibition of polar photography at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace taken, in the main, by Henry Ponting. They document the team’s journey through this spectacular landscape but the images of the men themselves are strangely cold in a way that has nothing to do with the sub-zero temperatures. Ponting annoyed the team immensely as he made them hold a pose rigidly for minutes at a time. They invented a verb for it – ‘to Pont’. In contrast, the few photographs taken by Henry Bowers capture the utter dejection of the men as they encounter the Norwegian tent at the pole and then gather as a thwarted team.
This is a dramatic example of how, despite similar equipment and technology, photographs record the subject for a fragment of time but also the personality and character of the person taking it adds something, often intangible, to the image. Developing a unique style of one’s own as a photographer is often elusive but has as much to being true to your own interpretation as learning the technical craft.
I first ‘met’ Meeta Wolff on Twitter and we soon established that she had a Middle East connection (she grew up in Qatar and has family in Dubai). As author of the hugely popular blog, What’s For Lunch, Honey?, her friendly tone and enthusiasm for life comes across not just in her words and the alchemy of the ingredients in her recipes but also in the images that bring it all to life. Meeta has developed a very unique style of her own, impossible to describe, but the appeal for me is that she tells a story within them. Nothing is superfluous to the shot; the balance is just right and there is a warmth to them that draws you in – more than just food gawking! I’m delighted that our exchange that started so long ago has culminated in Meeta hosting a two-day intensive food photography and styling workshop this April, here in Dubai.
Food photography needs lots of natural light, which we have in so much abundance here in the UAE that buildings are usually designed to lessen its impact. This was a real challenge when looking for a venue, but Nasimi Beach at Atlantis has provided a stunning location. Light streams into the shore-side restaurant which adjoins a shady terrace overlooking the sea. Chef Ricky will provide the gourmet side of the equation, including a live cookery demonstration so that everyone can get experience of shooting and styling a range of fabulous food and ingredients in a range of settings.
When I started My Custard Pie, I was taking photographs on a Sony ‘point and shoot’ but soon found it too limiting so invested in a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera and took a basic photography course. My personal aim is to be able to communicate as well as I’d like to, in pictures as well a words, here on this forum. In short, to find my own style. Learning from Meeta will be an exhilarating next step on the journey.
By the response we’ve received, I know that many people feel the same as I do and places are filling fast for the workshop.
So see you at Atlantis? I hope you’ll join me in person or here on My Custard Pie.