Lemon & Almond Syrup Cake / Homegrown Kitchen

What Camera do you use?

I started this blog using an Olympus point and shoot with a marco setting. However, I soon found this limiting for the photos I wanted to achieve, and since the beginning of 2013 I have used a Canon EOS 600D. Camera update: from 2014 I use a Canon 70D. I have 2 lenses I use for food photography, the ‘nifty fifty’ Canon 50mm F1.8, and Canon 24-70mm, (which rarely comes off the camera due to its amazing image quality). If you are looking for an entry level and affordable lens, starting with the Canon 50mm F1.8 is an excellent start (retails for around $150.00 and gives a lovely ‘thin’ depth of field characteristic to food photography). Other photography equipment I find indispensable include a tripod to reduce camera shake and a light reflector/ diffuser (pictured above left). Bright light is not your friend in food photography, and depending on the day (I always use natural light) I can either diffuse bright sunlight in my little home studio, or bounce light back onto a subject on a cloudy day to reduce shadows. You can also use a thin white sheet (diffuse) and large white board (reflect) to achieve similar results for very little cost.

Where do you source your photo props?

Other than my own kitchen equipment I source all of my props from secondhand stores, garage sales and recycling centres. It is amazing what you can find if you look (and rather addictive). I love handmade pottery and rustic pieces and as I am only looking for one or two pieces, and don’t mind if there is a small fracture or chip (that can easily be hidden), I can often find the perfect prop for several dollors. For example the turquoise side plates pictured above each have a small chip but with some careful placement and camera angle you wouldn’t even know! I also look out for thick-weave linens as they add lovely texture to backgrounds, and sacks/ hessian material. Plus wooden boards, large tiles, and various tables around our house are used for different backgrounds.

How did you get started with your food writing career?

I have been contributing recipes and articles to various magazines and publications for over 12 years (plus written 3 4 cookbooks). Initially I started off supplying recipes in exchange for a mention in the magazine. This was a great way to practice my food writing and get feedback from editors. Overtime I secured regular columns with magazines who liked my recipe style. The key is to test and adapt the recipe until it is ready. When I develop a new recipe I write it down straight away (these days on Evernote on my iPad) and then will test it at a later date at least twice more, altering the recipe if needed. Once I am satisfied it is a working recipe I will then add it to my archives to use for a magazine article or on this website. Being original and having a unique edge is important in food writing, I focus on recipes using nutrient-rich ingredients and often include nutrition information or gardening tips about the ingredients I have used.

Where did you study your Diploma in Natural Nutrition?

I studied while I was living in Canada in 2002/3 through the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. At the time there wasn’t a similar program in New Zealand and I was living in Canada so I decided to study there. Now there are similar course offered in NZ and Australia so do your research and make sure the program includes the areas of nutrition you are interested in. For me it was important that the essence of the program was about eating real food for health rather than supplements and individualising elements of food. Being a chef and food lover it was important to me that real ingredients formed the base of a healthy and flavoursome diet.

How do I start a food blog?

First you need to choose a blogging platform such as wordpress.org, wordpress.com, squarespace, blogger or typepad. I use a wordpress.org site as it is an open source platform (i.e. no one owns it) so there are no random ads and has more flexibility. Do some research and look at other blogs you like and what they are using. Before you start posting I recommend having an angle for your blog, something that makes it unique. If you keep it too general it is difficult to keep your focus. Also decide how often you are going to post a new recipe – be realistic, and stick to it. You can read more about why I started a blog HERE with links to other articles about starting a food blog.

Will you review our product/ book on your blog?

I don’t review products on Homegrown Kitchen and occasionally review books that I love and have bought myself. From 2017 I will offer a small number of sponsored recipe posts for businesses that are NZ-owned and share a similar food philosophy. Please contact me for more details.

Are you available to develop recipes/ food styling / product photography or present at our event?

Yes, I have experience in all these areas. I have developed recipes for food companies, plus worked alongside commercial photographer Daniel Allen as a food stylist for product packaging and marketing material. I also present cooking workshops regularly in Nelson and around New Zealand, and have experience presenting cooking demonstrations at larger events.  Please contact me to discuss how I could work with you.

The following is a list of businesses I have worked with on recipe development and/or food styling: Talley’s Group, Healtheries, Country Trading Co., Soy Works, Progressive Supermarkets, Heartland Apples, Hogarth Craft Chocolate.

Presreved Lemon Photo Shoot / Homegrown Kitchen

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