An evening cooking in Paris and how to turn it into a visual story

This blog post is about teaching and inspiring you to approach a visual brand story with images. I hope this will give you some inspiration! 

I’m someone who always loves to learn, educate myself. So in evolving my brand from just taking personal branding portraits to creating full-on visual stories, I looked for a workshop to extend my knowledge and styling skills. I came across a visual storytelling workshop with food taking place in Paris with Sisterhood Retreats organised by Sif Orellana.

Sif lives in Denmark. She’s not only a photographer but also an author and publisher of 12 cookbooks! So this woman knows her stuff about photographing and styling food. 

The height of the workshop was an evening cooking dinner with Eleonora Galasso, Italian, looking like a young Nigella Lawson, dressed elegantly, living in the heart of Paris in St Germain des Prés. Eleonora is a chef, writer and author of a cookbook called “As Romans Do” (a delight for the eyes with photographs from David Loftus!) with a new one to be published soon, add some TV shows on top of that! Sif and Sandra, the workshop hosts and tutors, had organised the workshop had arranged for us to cook dinner at Eleonora’s flat. 

We met Eleonora at Café in St Germain, and she introduced us to the history of the Quartier Latin and walked us to her flat. 

We climbed five stairs to enter her small and beautiful, naturally lit apartment featuring herringbone pattern wood floors and high ceilings when we arrived. We all looked in awe, ready for a fantastic experience. A few of us went to help in the tiny kitchen. Eleonora is an absolute wiz behind the stove. She explained what we would cook and asked us to cut, wash and cut the veggies.

She danced around us, preparing the ingredients, caramelising onions, chopping peppers, steaming spinach, all very under control. Then, outside the kitchen, we had the opportunity to get familiar with her flat and start laying the beautiful vintage plates, silver cutlery and crystal glasses.

The food came out of the kitchen after 45 minutes, all delicious looking. Yellow peppers, ricotta and spinach balls, turkey breast with sage leaves, sweetened with peach juice, tomatoes cut in small chunks with courgettes and lentils, an easy-going dinner for an evening gathering in Paris what else could you expect more? It was simple cooking from the heart and a great experience.

Don’t leave now! This story has more to it dear reader!

Now that I’ve told you about the story, I will say more about turning such an experience into a visual account.

The story had a lot for itself already, meeting an Italian cookbook writer in Paris and cooking dinner at her flat. So it’s now your turn to choose an opportunity to create a story for your visual content. Before you start, though, think like an editor. Decide about an angle, what’s striking in the story, and how could you edit it with your brand in mind for a blog or social media post? In this case, I chose to focus on the food and Eleonora herself.

Start off with the settings and give visual information about the context of your story. For example, where does your story take place? In my case, Paris, I wanted images of the city itself, the protagonists, and the location where the cooking would take place. 

Giving context means also stepping away from the scene and not being too close to it. For the viewer to understand what you’re talking about so they can imagine themselves in the exact location, inviting them to take part. Always put yourself in the shoes of the end viewer.

You can then move to the most detailed shots, think about styling, don’t be afraid to move objects, keep the frame simple you don’t want to confuse the eye, apply the rule of thirds, add a hand or a moving silhouette to add a human element and look at the light, compose. If you use a DSLR or mirrorless camera, use your phone to see the shot before you take it, your phone will act like a polaroid they used before we had digitals camera and help create a better composition. No need to shoot 100 images. Think before you press the shutter!

Try to keep your brand colours in mind and which elements in the framework best with your brand colours. Your Instagram grid does the same for the vibe and emotion you want in the images. 

I am not telling you that you will learn this overnight. Train your eyes. It’s like learning the piano. The more you practise, the more you will see what is fitting to feature in your visual story and impact the audience you want to reach.

Tell me in the comments how relevant you’ve found this post, would like more of these?

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