Thursday, 1 March 2012

People and food - a new project

I tend to promote myself as a food photographer to keep things simple, however I have a lot of experience shooting portraits as well. I was excited when I was asked to contribute a day's food photography for a charity cookbook in aid of Surrey Square School in South London. In order that the book would be visually consistent I suggested I be the only photographer on the project. However, I can now admit the real reason was that I was keen to gather together a new body of portrait work on a project I felt passionately about.

The idea behind the book is rather heartwarming. Parents at Surrey Square School were asked what they felt their strengths were. A vast majority lacked confidence in many things, but cooking they identified as something they were good at. The idea of a cookbook was born, which would show off the culinary talents of the school's parents and give everyone something to be proud of. The brief for each parent was to prepare a signature dish or something with a particular story attached to it.

My first shoot was with Nazma, who had had her fourth child eight days previously. I went to her house where she presented the leftovers of a beef curry, which was made in honour of her newborn son. In Bangladeshi culture, she said, it is customary to make a meat based curry for one's friends and family to celebrate a birth. They had in fact made the curry for a party with 350 of their friends and family, so we were rather lucky there were any leftovers!

Below are some of my favourite images from the shoot. I always feel a certain amount of trepidation going on location to shoot as I will not know the lighting, props and decor until I arrive. In this case everything miraculously came together. The daylight was good in Nazma's flat and the blue walls and flowery table cloth all worked out nicely to form a consistent looking set of pictures. Everything was shot in daylight, very simply and very quickly. I got to taste Nazma's delicious curry after the shoot and can verify her cooking is truly something to be proud of.

All pictures © Charlotte Tolhurst

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