It’s a bit difficult teaching something that you yourself have never learned in a proper setting. Danya and I are in the midst of teaching our 9th! Food Photography and Styling Course, and while Danya studied Photography in an academic setting, I was never taught formally how to “Food Style”. Yes, I assisted a well-known stylist for about a year, being on set, but mostly washing dishes and helping to prepare the food. Once I started working on my own, the trade just sort of came to me. And I learned a lot along the way, through my own trials and errors and by countless hours of searching through magazines, books and the internet to find inspiration.
So now, while teaching, I come across many times the question “So, what’s the rule with: napkins, sizes of plates, silverware cropped/not cropped, iron tablecloths or not, centered items vs. not centered, etc. Some of the time I’m able to give an answer of things that I call rules, but other times, I simply have to say to my students “there’s no rule, you just have to follow how your eye feels when looking”.
Another question students often ask is if there are any foods which I do not like to shoot. And I don’t have a long list, but one of the things I hate to shoot is stuffed peppers. It’s a common dish here in Israel, and I’ve had the challenge of shooting them a few times, for both magazines and cookbooks. I can’t explain exactly what it is I don’t like about photographing them- maybe it has something to do with the fact that the always look really messy, or maybe because I never really liked the way they taste, but I just never was satisfied with the way they photograph. Danya knows how I feel about them, and despite the fact, she insisted on shooting them for the blog. She told me she had perfected the recipe, and I as always, was pretty skeptical.
And then I tasted them and something changed. They were really damn good. Really well seasoned, not overcooked like so many I had tried before. The peppers had totally kept their form and their color, and from that came my inspiration. And so, now, when a student asked me what the rule is on things that don’t photograph well- I just have to say-there is no rule.
Ingredients for 10 servings:
10 medium sized red bell peppers
For the stuffing:
1½ cups long grained white rice
1 onion, finely chopped
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 pound/500 grams ground beef
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon baharat
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the sauce:
1 large can, chopped tomatoes (800 grams, 28 oz.)
1½ tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups boiling water