Photography Tips, Wine Pairings and Dining in Seattle – International Food Bloggers Conference

September 24, 2013

It was the reason I registered for the conference in the first place. A session with the well known Andrew Scrivani, food photographer for the New York Times.

In preparation for this big weekend, I caught some of the session he taught on Food Photography for CreativeLive a month or so ago. Inspired is an understatement. The one thing that stuck with me from the online session was when he said (and I paraphrase) – when the door of opportunity cracks open, you don’t peak inside, you kick the door down.

I feel like since we’ve moved to California, I have been kicking down every door that has cracked open for me, and I have my eyes open for more. It was a phrase, an attitude, a piece of advice that had perfect timing for me.

Andrew didn’t disappoint in the live sessions this past weekend. The simplicity of his set-ups and shoots would surprise anyone who has seen some of his intriguing photos that grace pages of the web and print. It also helps that his photography style is spot on with what I aspire for mine to be. The dark shadows, the light flow, the moodiness. Those are the types of photos that draw and keep my extended attention, and also the types of photos I want to more consistently create.

After a hilarious cooking demo with Chef John and Chefs from Blue C Sushi, Andrew shared photo after photo of some of his favorite shots and the stories behind them. A few things I learned:

  • He almost never uses artificial light.
  • Salt glazed pottery does not reflect light.
  • Southwestern light is “absolutely the best” light for food photography.
  • Trade props for credit on your blog. In other words, help spread the word for people who make props that would work well in your photos by mentioning them in your post or on your homepage in exchange for a waved rental fee or a free dish.
  • Use Pinterest boards to collect photos and use them to shop for pottery/plates to recreate the style. (I’ve used this to collect styling ideas, but I’d never thought about using it as a shopping list when I’m looking for the actual props to get the same scene.)
  • Capturing a good photo is about being at the right place at the right time.

Because of such a large group, only a few were randomly selected to get up and photograph food during the session. Later they brought some plates over to the natural light by the window and a few of us decided to sneak over and take our own pictures.

After the food photography sessions, I attended the food and wine pairing session with Chateau Ste. Michelle winery and Culinary Director, John Sarich.

A few interesting tips I learned:

  • Salt water seafood and strong tannin wines do not pair well.
  • Raw fruit and wine do not pair well. The fruit pulls out the acid flavors of the wine.
  • New world reds that are more “jammy” are better with fish.
  • New world reds also pair better with balsamic vinegars and soy sauce.
  • White wine is best served at 54 to 55 degrees F, except Riesling and sparkling white wines which can be served at 40 degrees.
  • Reds should be served at cellar temperature, 64 degrees F, not 73 degrees F (room temperature).
  • Good wine is 20% where you are at, 20% who you are with and 60% the wine itself.
Our tasting plate – duck liver pate, prosciutto, apple tart, smoked salmon, tuna tartar and  fresh apple.

Later that evening, Urbanspoon split all 320 attendees into small groups and we each dined at different restaurants throughout Seattle. It was a really cool concept and each of our restaurants were a surprise until a few hours before. (Eating styles were taken into consideration.)

Our dinner was at Luc, a lovely French-American restaurant. We were served 4 courses, including chicken liver pâté with berry gelée and an amazing Cassoulet made with local white beans, duck confit, sausage and braised lamb (sorry, my photo didn’t turn out due to the lighting). The duck was perfectly cooked, not too dry and the flavor of the beans was rich and comforting.

I also got to try Bavarois with Huckleberry. It was described as the French version of a Bavarian cream. It had a rich flavor while also being rather light and airy. The sweet berry topping rounded out the flavor of the dessert nicely.

Another outstanding day.

Disclosure: I was required to write 3 posts about my experiences at IFBC in order to receive a discounted registration fee. This is email 2 of 3. The weekend involved many free products and foods from companies and restaurants that I may or may not write about. Thoughts are my own. I am not required to write about these foods or companies and will receive no compensation for doing so. 

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  • emily (a nutritionist eats) September 25, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Thanks for sharing some tips you learned, what a day!

  • Danielle September 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    What an awesome experience! It’s fun to live vicariously through you 🙂

  • pictureperfectcooking.com September 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing about this amazing conference. Your photos look great! I would love to get some food photography lessons like that.

  • Juliana September 26, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Wow Lori, such a fun event…thanks for the photography tips.
    I am glad that you had a wonderful time in Seattle 😀

  • Lori September 27, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Emily – It was a packed conference! Lots of fun.

    Danielle – I’m happy to share the fun! 🙂

    PicturePerfect – Thanks! It was really helpful.

    Juliana – It was a great conference!