The Occasional Masterchef

Chef Alan Dann has set up a private dining experience in Oxfordshire and

I was drafted in to provide the photography for their website.

The table has been set

  • Photo by Ryan Cowan

The first part of the brief was to photograph one of their dining spaces set within a contemporary Oxfordshire home.

The ambient light was set low and candles lit. 

Candlelight is rarely a reliable source of light for photography.

Being the brightest point in the room, the flames themselves easily become the focus of our attention, so I applied splashes of light from a small hand-held LED to bring back details to the other important elements on the table.  

"Painting" the light in allows me to control just how much of the details are visible.

Photo by Ryan Cowan

Food photography

The second part of the brief was to attend one of Alan Dann´s dining experiences and photograph some of the dishes he was serving to guests that night.

Initially, I had ideas of using dark textured stone surfaces for the dishes to rest on and a sliver of light to stream through shadows, landing on the food details but Alan wanted the images to be clear and bright over a plain white background to avoid any distractions from the food itself.

This was one of those moments where my brain had typically gone for the most convoluted of setups, probably to try and impress myself, only to be reminded of the KISS acronym. ( Keep It Simple Stupid ) Just as well.

There were seven beautiful dishes and each would have required some careful attention to get the best light from my more artistic ideas. So as it turned out that I had just enough time to keep up by keeping it simple!

I set up my equipment in a room and while Alan´s lovely team of waiters would serve their guests on the other side of the house, one of each dish would make its way to me.

I would set the lighting up around the dish as swiftly as I could before it wilted and get the shots I needed before the next one came in. 

  • Photo by Ryan Cowan
  • Photo by Ryan Cowan
  • Photo by Ryan Cowan
  • Photo by Ryan Cowan
  • Photo by Ryan Cowan
  • Photo by Ryan Cowan
  • Photo by Ryan Cowan

Visit The Occasional Masterchef website to see more of these images in context.

Michelin starred chef in the kitchen

  • Photo by Ryan Cowan
  • Photo by Ryan Cowan
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