Cooking Local and Styling with Sif Orellana

If you are thinking and guessing about attending one of photography / food styling / cooking similar type of a workshop or retreat, like I was, this post is for YOU. Here is my TOP 5 to do before you book and pack your bags.

Preparation is the KEY.

Since there are many courses and workshops available these days you might be spending lots of time overthinking the value, time and money aspects of such a trip. So here is how I did it. I did my research, by following several food bloggers and photographers that I personally like. I kept an eye on their workshops schedule. In my extrovert nature I always look for the right people, those who inspire me, teach me, share with me their experience and motivation. I have always wanted to attend workshops with Sif Orellana, a well-know Danish food writer and a publisher. I love her work, her books, her photos and recipes. I have been following her Instagram and wanted to jump on the plane from Gabon to Europe many times, but decided to wait till I was permanently back to Europe. So when the time was right, I just knew it was the ONE.

TIP 1: Do your research, choose people and go for it!

My kinda people!

I wanted to attend a photography, food and travel related workshop — all in one — primarily to get more info and guidance in food styling and photography. I also wanted to get some help in finding my style, my own voice, practice photography and meet new like minded people. Cooking and working with Sif and Annette was exactly what I wanted from the workshop. Lots of positive energy, ideas, knowledge sharing and constructive feedback. Thanks Annette and Sif, you made it a great experience for me!

TIP 2: Know what you want to get out of this.

Sif at work.

Cooking Local was an amazing workshop in Tuscany, hosted by Annette Joseph, an Amercian food stylist and a writer, at her professional workshop studio at La Fortezza. The idea was to use local products in our cooking sessions, cook all together with Sif and Annette, style the set with freshly prepared meals and take the photos. In the process we talked, we ate, had wonderful cocktails made by Annette, discussed our photos, asked questions and had a good laugh:)

Working the set.

Styling was the trickiest part for me as I felt I needed more time to make up my mind in choosing props and making a good composition on the set. We talked a lot about light, composition, background, layers, flow, colour combinations, props, camera settings, and etc. All these and other aspects are important to make a good food flat lay photo. The most important is to have fun and let yourself be creative.

TIP 3: Make the time to practice styling, get help if you are struggling and just have fun.

This was styled by talented Jamie, not me!

Photo processing was my favourite part. This is where I get to look at the pictures taken, select the best ones and then process them. Sif shared with us her Instagram blueprint, her secrets on how to create a cohesive Instagram gallery, her very own processing work flow, tools and techniques. I found this part of the workshop most valuable. I felt this was the time where I become a creator of a story, by adjusting the light, balance, contrast and colours, by cropping the image to show the most meaningful part of it, bringing the story out.

TIP 4: Get as much as possible information out of your coach, as that is gold!

Secrets of our Master

What did I get from this workshop? I feel that I have achieved my initial goals, but I have gained even more. I felt a good boost of my confidence and motivation, which is always a tricky part for a creative soul. Although there is still room for improvement, I feel my photos are better than before, which brings me closer to my goal of developing my own style. I met wonderful and very inspiring people in a beautiful place of Tuscany and it felt like a wonderful vacation.

TIP 5: Trips like this create wonderful and special memories in life. Give yourself this gift.

Heart full of joy.