food photography & styling class

cara livermore food photography

This Saturday I did something totally out of my element - I taught a class for the first time ever. Not just any class, but a six HOUR food photography and styling class. Normally the thought of:

  1. speaking in front of a group of people by myself
  2. touting my 'expertise'
  3. and setting a pace from a lesson plan

would totally freak me out. And I was really nervous. I've had something like this started before, but I chickened out before I could get it official with the people I was working with. I've had lots of people ask me to teach a lettering class or a photography class, and I hadn't worked up the courage to do it yet.

But this specific situation really worked in my favor. The idea for the class came from another person who had to cancel teaching it, and a friend recommended me to fill in. Because the class didn't pay for ME specifically, and because I knew it would be a small size (maxed at eight), and because the Flower City Arts Center is only five minutes walk from my house, it just felt like fate that I got to step into the role.

So I said yes, and came up with the lesson plan and figured out demonstrations that would help show my points. I packed up a bunch of props and food and backgrounds and tools, and my shooting partner Rachel came with me to assist me with setup and shooting. It actually went pretty well, and I think all of my points came across. I did a lot better than I thought I would do :P

What we went over:

  • planning & workflow
  • props & backgrounds
  • lighting
  • composition
  • shooting
  • and editing

And here are some of the shots I got from the day:

cara livermore food photography
cara livermore food photography

teaching aperture, shutter speed, and lighting

cara livermore food photography
cara livermore food photography

going over exposure limits

cara livermore food photography
cara livermore food photography

food styling demo (aka making ugly food look good)

cara livermore food photography
cara livermore food photography

working with a "hero", food styling tricks, composition, and lighting

cara livermore food photography

We did other demonstrations that I didn't shoot, and spent the last hour and a half letting the students choose their own backgrounds, props, food, styling, lighting setup, and shooting setup. (That first image in this post is the setup I made between going around critiquing & giving advice.)

Here are a few iPhone snaps I took as well:

This was such a long day for me, and a lot of prep and cleanup, but I'm so glad I had the experience. I'm hoping this will just be the first class I teach, and I hope I just get better and better at it. :)

issue #22

Grab this issue here.

Some pages from this issue:

Some behind the scenes:

with family <3

Spent a week in Orlando with my family, and it was a much needed break from this terrible weird year. <3

issue #21

After the horrors of this summer and trying to get our summer issue out, I knew I wanted to completely change things up for our fall issue. I knew at the end of this summer that I'm not cut out to be a person in "business." I knew that our business model was failing - we couldn't pay our printer, we couldn't pay our contributors, and we were spending so much out of pocket for the issue to be complete - it was bullshit. And I hated (and still) hate so much of it. It's not easy running this. Not at all. The pressure and stress overwhelm me every day. This issue was designed to take the pressure off, just a bit, to make this work.

So I decided to completely do this issue by myself. At first, it may seem like more work - and it definitely was. But 1) I could feel in complete control of the content. No more proposals that turned into something entirely different at completed work. No more photos that don't look anything like I expected. and 2) We could try to catch up on payments by limiting our budget to just materials for photo shoots. I wouldn't have to keep up with over a dozen different people and where their work was or constant payment questions or any of the stress that comes with trying to fairly pay many people with zero budget. We didn't and don't want to become another publication that "pays" on exposure, we want to actually pay people what they're worth. So we took a break from asking for their work until we can again. 

Ultimately I decided to bring on a trio of contributors who we've worked with many times before to help round out the issue. Other than those, I did a crowdsourced type of feature to make it so my perspective wasn't the only one there. The rest of the issue was entirely conceptualized, written, and edited by me. It was a new kind of pressure, but one that was pretty familiar - like blogging, but more permanent. It felt better than any issue we've come out with yet. All the imagery fits pretty perfectly and the concepts were ones I really think work. I do wish there were more points of view - so I think as we bring back contributors, I just need to be more clear and focused in my direction of the people we're paying.

We also took a look at how we're actually producing issues to see how we can make ourselves sustainable. We're not entirely in the black yet, but we're taking huge strides in that direction. This print issue sold out the day we got it from the printer, which was a scary amazing feeling. I'm so excited to see how this goes in 2017. Take a look at my behind-the-scenes photos from the Coming Home production below, and grab one for yourself here if you're interested in it. <3

kitchen in progress

kitchen in progress

We've been working really hard on updating our small, outdated kitchen for the past few months now. My partner's stepfather is a contractor and helped us so much - along with my partner's mom and both my parents.

You can see the before in our before house tour for reference. This was the worst room in the house - it was poorly built in many ways. The previous owner had closed off a large room off the back of the house and built a bathroom in front of its door, INTO the kitchen space. So our first task was tearing out all the cabinets, fixtures, appliances, plumbing, electricity, and walls.

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