When you start something new there are often people in your life who want to pass comment on the wisdom of your choices; on how well you're doing. Or not. They may offer sage advice. Or not. Or they may simply want to help. With many of these people you may share a name, or other genetic material. Their assistance may be highly assistive. Or not.
A few weeks ago we were away for a few days with members of my extended family. Not wanting to miss a prime opportunity, I decided to test out on them a recipe that I may decide to cook for you one day.
One afternoon I cooked. In the evening, when the chaos of trying to feed eight junior recipe testers, a number of whom were unable to feed themselves had subsided, the more senior recipe testers sat down to eat.
Comment was passed on the aesthetic of the dish, the aroma etc, and all comments were complimentary. It was looking positive. Seated at the table was a photographer. Not just any photographer, but one who takes beautiful photos. And not just any photos, those that appear on this website. (Apart from the odd dodgy one taken by yours truly in desperation). Handy that he was there, I thought. Given that if this dinner was to make it to the menu, we'd need a product shot, I might have casually mentioned just that.
His response was less enthusiastic than my suggestion. And then it started. Eating together is a family activity to be enjoyed. Photographing the food before you eat it should never be attempted as a family activity.
First, there were endless comments about the state of the lighting. I'll summarise for you: it sucked.
Second, there was the small issue of the table on which the dish sat. On this, he had a point. We were seated at the same table, with the same tablecloth, that had serviced a gaggle of juniors. It looked like a Pro Hart experiment.
To counter the problems of said tablecloth, we then began fetching props. First, a clean tea towel to sit under the dish. No not, that one. Haven't you got something in another colour? That one's got a stain on it. What about a piece of fruit to sit alongside for colour and interest? That piece of fruit is bruised. That one has a junior sized bite out of it. Who put that back in the fruit bowl? Can you turn it so you can't see the dodgy bit? What about a knife? Set it up as a flat-lay. What on earth is a flat-lay? Can we eat yet? NO!!!
In desperation, one diner decided to take matters into his own hands and made a grab for the camera. He reasoned that he, in fact, had a better angle on the subject, could take a shot and then, at last, we could eat.
In a rare break with tradition to include more than one photo in a blog, I feel it incumbent upon me to share the photo that was eventually taken.
One day I will cook you another new dinner. It will look nothing like a blobby thumb.