Donna Hay styling and photography challenge #1
We all have our own heroes when it comes to food photography and styling and I’ve always been a huge fan of Donna Hay’s style and all the photographers she works with. It’s an uncluttered and beautiful style where the hero of the photo is always the food. Years ago, when I first started taking photos of food I found that it helps to look at some really good examples and try to analyze what makes that photo so good. Is it the light, is it the style or a combination of both? I even wrote a post about it more then two years ago, where I replicated one of Donna’s dishes from the magazine.
There has also been a similar challenge on Flickr running for a while but that was geared towards any photo and I want to make this specifically about Donna’s recipes, so that’s where this challenge comes in.
For the very first challenge I thought to start with a fairly simple recipe of this white bean and ricotta salad. It’s the dish I made in 2009 so I know it’s not too difficult to do.
The styling does not involve many elements so the perfect way to start looking at the original photo and see how it was lit, how it was styled and how you would try to do that too. The original photo is from issue 42 of Donna Hay Magazine and the photo is from Chris Court
And here is the challenge recipe to make. The timing of this is slightly different then described in the rules below, but that is because it is the first one… You have until the end of september to recreate this dish (which is also delicious by the way) and to make your own version of the photo.
Ricotta and white bean salad
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
- 400g cannellini beans ((or white beans, 1 can))
- 1 red onion (small)
- 30g black olived (pitted and halved)
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (leaves only)
- 1-2 red chili (small and sliced)
- 125g cherry tomatoes (halved)
- black pepper (cracked)
- 100g ricotta (fresh)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Place the beans, onion, olives, parsley, chilli, tomato, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss gently to combine. Divide between serving plates and top with fresh ricotta. Combine the oil and vinegar and spoon over the salad to serve.
While Donna is famous for her brilliant and easy recipes she is equally famous for her inimitable styling. Of course she is helped along by fabulous photographers such as Con Poulos, Chris Court or William Meppem. So this challenge is not only about recreating a dish, it is about trying to come up with an equally brilliant styling and photographing job. I know… not easy but this is all about learning!
- Once a month (on the 3rd of the month) I will give you a recipe plus the accompanying photo out of the Donna Hay magazine. I will try to make it seasonal but can’t promise anything.
- You have that same month to produce your post. You can post it any day you like just as long as you finish it before the end of that month at the latest.
- You have to produce that recipe, alterations to the recipe are allowed to make sure any dietary restrictions are met. But only minor changes!
- You have to cook and STYLE the recipe trying to replicate the photo as best as you can. If you think you can do a better job then the original photo, by all means feel free to make your own changes to the styling.
- Shoot the dish and then write a blog post about it. It would be great to add notes on how you took the photo and how you styled the dish, so that other people can learn too.
- Link back to this months blog post about the challenge and link back to the Donna Hay Challenge (DHSPC) page here
- Leave a message on the post that is up here for that month, saying that you completed the challenge and link to the post on your site so others can find it too.
- If you want to use the original photo in your blog post as well as the recipe be sure to link back to the Donna Hay website plus the photographers website. They will both always be mentioned in the monthly challenge posts.
- I cannot stress this enough; but I am certainly not telling you to be a copycat and adopt someone else’s style as your own. While we do copy for this challenge, the goal here is completely different. It is all about learning how the light affects your image and how styling can make or break a photo too. Once you know all of that you can begin to develop your own style!
As you can see the rules are simple. The challenge, however is not. Each month a winner will be chosen who produced the best dish/photo of the month and will be posted to the Hall of Fame. That is the only reward you will get out of this challenge. That plus eternal fame ofcourse…
Approval has been requested and received from the Donna Hay team in running this challenge. I do ask you to make sure you always credit the right source when using some of the original images. Thanks!