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The heart of the image

February 17, 2012
Food photography by Meeta K Wolff

Some images taken and styled by Meeta K Wolff

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.

A loaf with jam and lemon, herb pasta

The bread pic was from my first ever post, the pasta taken recently

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.

Photography Workshop Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

  1. February 17, 2012 1:34 pm

    Lucky you, going on this wonderful workshop! I think it would be so much fun!

  2. February 17, 2012 2:07 pm

    How much do I want to be there?! I can’t even tell you how much because that’s how much! In April it will be six years since we were last in Dubai for our honeymoon. Do you think I could convince hubby to let me come?! Maybe I can plan a sneaky family holiday around the workshop?!! A lovely post, Meeta is wonderful, such an inspiration and you two make a powerful combo!

  3. February 17, 2012 4:16 pm

    I’m like Ren. I would love to be there too!!! 🙂 I was in Dubai in December 2007 and I’d love to go back to visit my friends there and to participate in this workshop!

    • February 19, 2012 5:17 pm

      If we ever do this again, I’m planning the dates around you two. How great would that be 🙂

  4. February 17, 2012 5:35 pm

    I’m so jealous of the lovely natural light you get in Dubai – at the moment in the UK I leave for work in the near dark and don’t get home until it’s pitch black. All my photos have to be snapped at weekends which tends to make them a little more rushed – I’d love the opportunity to attend a workshop and really get to grips with photography…

    • February 19, 2012 5:16 pm

      I forget that about the UK – I always come in the summer now and love the long evenings (it gets dark here very early). I wish you could come and join us.

  5. February 17, 2012 7:34 pm

    My food photography is so dreadful – I definitely need to attend a workshop and get a decent camera. I always end up taking photos in poor light at this time of year so I’m super jealous of the wonderful light you must get over in Dubai!

    • February 19, 2012 5:15 pm

      Knowing how to use the tools you have does make a difference Amy. I’ve seen some great instagram pics and some dreadful ones taken on expensive cameras.

  6. February 17, 2012 7:46 pm

    Oh good for you! What a great idea, and how I wish I could fly across the globe and be there!

  7. February 17, 2012 8:03 pm

    Wish I lived over there. Sounds fab! I went to a good one with David Griffin the other day. My problem is natural light as I bake usually in the evenings 😦

    • February 19, 2012 5:12 pm

      Our days are always short here – gets dark between 6 and 7 all year round.

  8. February 17, 2012 8:21 pm

    I am dashing off to do the maths … and to beseech my husband to pay for me ….

    • February 19, 2012 2:32 pm

      Cindy that would be amazing if you came. Fingers crossed.

  9. February 17, 2012 9:05 pm

    What a fantastic event to be hosting! Well done you. I bet it will be amazing, and such a great venue.

    • February 19, 2012 5:11 pm

      Thanks Claire. Very excited now.

  10. February 18, 2012 4:56 am

    Wow, if only…

    • February 19, 2012 5:11 pm

      Joan – we’d have a ball.

  11. February 20, 2012 12:01 pm

    Oh sally! You make me blush so! I am really happy that Twitter brought us together and I am so looking ofrward to hugging you in person now. I really look forward to this workshop for me it’s sentimental and unique. Sentimental because I’ve always wanted to do a workshop in a place I grew up in and unique because I cannot wait to show everyone what effect the awesome light in Dubai will have in everyone’s images.

  12. February 20, 2012 12:38 pm

    this is going to be amazing! How lucky you all are 🙂

  13. February 20, 2012 4:52 pm

    Wish I could be there! It sounds fantastic, have a good time you all 🙂

  14. February 20, 2012 10:00 pm

    Wow, this sounds like a great idea. I know I could do with a new perspective….. sigh. If I wasn’t already planning on a UK trip at the end of March I would consider it! But, I’m thinking of coming over for the next Literary fest – you know the one you spoke off? I’d be grateful if you could send me info when you have it! Take care

  15. February 21, 2012 1:18 am

    I haven’t heard the verb ‘to Pont’ before – how fabulous. It was fascinating to see how limited early photography was, at the recent Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy. Degas was able to capture movement so much more skilfully in paint than the early photographers could. You and Meeta are going to provide the most inspirational time for everyone – lucky, lucky people. There will be absolutely no Ponting!

  16. February 21, 2012 1:09 pm

    Meeta is a great blogger and photographer! I love her work. I wish I could be there too.



  17. February 21, 2012 3:24 pm

    OOh Sally, I am so gonna miss this 😦 I will be travelling at that time!!! I love Meeta’s work, and boy could I use some photography classes!!! I am gutted 😦
    Sounds like lots of fun, you guys enjoy, and hope you will do this again!

  18. February 24, 2012 7:05 pm

    I wish there are workshops like these in Asia. I most desperately can use a course like this one… Love this post, Sally- especially the introduction!

  19. February 26, 2012 7:27 am

    So wish I could attend too! 😦 Singapore’s not too far from Dubai but unfortunately I have no leave! Next time then… Have a fab workshop!

  20. February 27, 2012 7:33 pm

    Oh I would so like to learn more about taking good photos as my rather pathetic ones I’m sure do not do the food any great service…Trouble is we are usually too hungry and the food is going cold to make a better effort in getting that ‘right’ photo…one day perhaps…


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