Over Memorial Day weekend I had the opportunity to help out at a First We Eat food photography and styling workshop held by Eva of Adventures in Cooking and Carey of Reclaiming Provincial. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that I attended a similar workshop with Eva and Carey a couple of years ago on Cape Cod. That first workshop was a huge turning point in my styling and photography and a wonderful way to spend the weekend of my thirtieth birthday, so I was thrilled to get to join them again almost exactly two years later, here in my new home state of Tennessee.
We stayed in two cabins adjoined by a giant figure-eight wrap-around porch and tucked into the woods of Beersheba Springs, a small town at the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. Linda Lomelino, Maggie Pate, Hannah Messinger, and Lauren Michelle were in attendance to teach food styling, natural dyeing, food writing, and working with plaster, respectively.
(You can’t tell from the picture below, but there were at least six really comfortable porch swings in various locations. I dream of someday having a porch swing! I’ll probably have to start by finding a house with a porch.)
Every afternoon, Eva put together a beautiful cheese plate for everyone to take pictures of and eventually eat. This one is full of cheese and charcuterie from Main Street Meats, one of my very favorite Chattanooga restaurants.
Maggie set this beautiful table for the first night’s welcome dinner with dishes from Annie Hanks Ceramics, napkins from Kampinnen, and a runner she dyed herself. We ate all of our meals on the porch. See the swings in the background?
Everything we ate featured local ingredients prepared with recipes from Southern cookbooks. The succotash galette pictured below was so much more delicious than I had expected! Hannah made a giant batch of the best and flakiest pie dough, and it made its way into something amazing for almost every meal.
Since it was a food photography workshop, we all had to take a million pictures before we could ever sit down and eat. It was kind of excruciating with so many goodies on the table! The candles from The Rustic House were so photogenic, though.
Linda made a banana cream pie with meringue swirls for days for our first dessert.
Lauren from Master of Plaster helped us make our own shooting surfaces with different shades of plaster. It was so much fun and I love my surfaces so much! You can see them in action on my Instagram here, here, and here.
After a long day of learning about food photography and food styling, we got to snack on roasted chickpeas, hummus, pimento cheese, and Olive & Sinclair chocolate.
A few days before the workshop I managed to catch The Peach Truck on the Chattanooga stop of its peach tour, where I bought a 25-pound box of peaches. Most of them came with me to the workshop and made their way into all kinds of scrumptious things.
There’s something so fun about taking a picture of someone taking a picture!
Maggie showed us how she dyes fabrics using local plant materials and we all got to take some home! Here’s what I did first with mine.
Brittany styled this beautiful scene and let me sneak in for a snap.
Here’s Hannah shooting the delicious turnip gratin she made. I didn’t even notice Fatima in the same position in the background until after I took the photo!
We went strawberry picking, but it was the early season blueberries that really caught my eye!
On the way back to Chattanooga, I stopped at a scenic overlook on the highway to take this photo. Before moving to Tennessee, it hadn’t ever occurred to me that clouds cast shadows, but now seeing them dappled onto mountains is one of my favorite sights.
It was wonderful to spend a weekend with such inspiring and creative folks in such a beautiful place. If you have a chance to attend a First We Eat workshop, don’t miss it! Even though I’d been to one before and was often in the kitchen helping with the cooking this time around, I still learned an incredible amount and came back refreshed and inspired.