This year I have been working fairly regularly for a small but perfectly formed pub chain. They pride them selves on a great work ethos. Relaxed yet hard working. Their management team have a strong eye for detail and quality with little room for compromise on either quality or design. Each pub has its own individual look yet still feels part of the family. The food and wine is of an extremely high standard in both provenance and flavour. I would love to be their buyer as they have found some great producers dotted around Europe. They offer rooms in some of the pubs and again the decor is quirky yet stylish and each room different. I have been commissioned to cover any pub that has been refurbished and also photographed their food. The picture above is an example from a recent shoot. I must say it is refreshing to find a company doing so well, without having to compromise on their core message of quality and great employment values.
Very pleased to say that our Gin film below has made it across the pond to be screened this Friday at their Food Film Festival. Sadly I can’t travel over. But really chuffed none the less. “The Food Film Festival is back for its 11th consecutive year in New York City 19 – 22 October, and two talented unearthed® Food Film Shorts supported by Foodism 2017 finalists will be screened at this fabulous multisensory celebration of food and film.” Check out my film, Sacred Gin by William Shaw. A Heatwave Pictures Production.
This week started well with a brief to photograph recipes using a certain well known kitchen equipment manufacturer. The pictures are to be used for recipe cards that will go in the boxes of the machinery when boxed. So the lucky new owner gets some great ideas to use these new toys for. The angle was on the healthy, so juices and gluten free were the order of the day. Having said that the brief was to make it bold and bright. We managed to do this well. The client which is a new one to me seemed very happy. So that means I am also very happy.
Once more in the English farming countryside. This time pears in East Anglia. This was a much smaller affair. The pack house only had 6 or 7 people working and the growing acres much less. No need for double decker buses to ferry in the workers, just bikes. There is no amazing fact to learn about Pears they basically grow on trees get picked, washed, packed and then stored until needed. Not rocket science. They are very prone to bruising, and the farmers biggest issue is damage from birds pecking at the fruit on the branches. This causes rot that then spreads to the undamaged fruit. The pickers have to be very careful not to cause any bruising when putting the pears into the big bins behind the tractor. The biggest costs seem to be labour and the chilling of the large storage areas. My biggest surprise was just how many pears you get on a tree. See picture below. I was amazed the branches did not snap.
I apologise for the break in communication. I am pleased to say that I have been too busy. It has been a real burst of farming shoots. I think the peak, being a three day trip to Sevilla to document the olive harvest. We were working about an hour south next to a town that their whole existance is determined by the small green fruit, the Olive. Every job, factory, workshop , cafe, has a connection to the humble olive. The landscape for many miles surrounding the town is olive groves. Some ancient and some prototype. We were on the land of Eduardo and Eduardo junior. They are a very traditional grower. A mix of old groves, over a 100 years and still producing a good crop. To trees planted 3 years ago and about to start cropping for the first time. He is a director for the largest olive processing plants in Europe if not the world. Based on the edge of town, all modern and shiny. Inside you can find rows and rows of machines that can pit 36 olives a second over 2000 a minute. So you can imagine the numbers involved. The harvest starts mid September […]
The Strawberries are grown in “Spanish Tunnels”, this is a soil free system, using raised shelves with bags of coconut coir to grow the strawberry plants. They feed them via nutrients in the water. This helps to keep the plants healthy and efficient. The height of the plants makes it easy for the fruit to be picked. The tunnels are monitored for heat and humidity and opened up every day to control the climate. The future will be self regulating tents that can open and close the roof weather dependent. It is a long way from growing in the soil with straw as a bedding. The yield is so much higher and the quality too. The farm we were photographing grows many types of fruit but has 200 acres dedicated to strawberries. Picking over 4 million punnets of fruit a year with over a 1,000 workers on site. How farming has moved on! A great day apart from the 4 and a half hour crawl around the M25 at the end of the day.
The end of last week I was in the far East of Lincolnshire in a field of Cauliflowers. We were shooting for a supermarket, showing the quality of British home grown produce. If you have been to this part of our country you will know what I mean by being like a massive out door factory. Every field has gangs picking, packing and stacking. There are no waste fields. Acres of glass, every other vehicle is a tractor. 80% percent of British Veg is grown in this area. Using the fertile reclaimed land and flat gradients to get the best crops possible. The investment is eye watering. Huge packing sheds, small towns of static caravans to house the labour. Yards full of trucks. Bio Mass boilers and so on and son. The farm we were on has a workforce of 800 and the majority live on site. It was all very impressive, and makes you look at the vegetables found on our shelves in a new way. We should be very proud of our farmers and their produce.
I have just finished a Ramen cook book. There are all sort of rules about Ramen dishes. But basically it is all about the stock and then you add noodles (various types) and then any toppings desired from meat to vegetarian. The book was a challenge due to the fact that all the dishes were served in a bowl. We wanted to give the book an Asian feel but not too obvious. We shot it at the writers home in the Cotswolds through the mini heatwave we had. It felt a long way from the Far East.
Last week I had the opportunity to document a deer stalk down in Sussex. So feeling slightly apprehensive I met up with the stalker at the lovelt time of 3.30 am in a pub car park. I climbed into his truck and off we set. At just after 4am we arrived at the estate where we were to try and find a suitable deer to shoot. We had all ready seen a group of 5 in nearby open ground. After putting on suitable out door gear he got his rifle and binoculars and we walked into the first clearing. I was extremely anxious of making too much noise. The light was the cold pre dawn blue, the birds just starting up their chorus. My shutter sounded very loud and my feet seemed very heavy. Very quickly he spotted a pair of roe deer at the bottom of our clearing near some woods. He had to check if there was a buck as he cannot kill female deer at this time of the year. Once we confirmed that there was indeed a buck, we had to creep up close enough and safe enough to take a shot. The rules before you […]
Christmas. I was tasked by the National trust to photograph six Christmas dishes from the past in one of their properties. The recipes had been made by a expert in food history, who travels the world discussing the social history of our food through out the ages. We decided to use Townend up in Troutbeck, the Lakes. They had a recipe book written by the owner of the house many years ago and we included one of the recipes in the says photography. Of course it was the second hottest day since 1976 and we were in a very dark kitchen with a roaring fire. I was using tungsten lights so that just added to the heat. Having said that it was a great day and the results were loved by every one. I have always had a strong connection to the Lakes and it was lovely to be back, even in the unfamiliar weather conditions. I had never been to Townend and thanks to the chilled Curator it made for a fabulous location. It was just a shame that it was such a flying visit. Here is the link to the property.https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/townend