Thursday, March 10

Behind the Scenes at Australian Good Taste: How recipes are chosen and how they get on the page

'Twist my rubber arm' I respond when I'm asked if I'd like a behind-the-scenes look at food prep and photo shoots for Good Taste Magazine.  I'm on the editorial team in the 'reader issue' coming out in June and I can hardly wait until it comes out!

If you've ever picked up a copy of Good Taste its photography is beautiful and totally lickable.  That's what you want when taking photos of food so I was fascinated at the process and of course, I needed some tips!

I arrive at News Magazines and we see that we're booked into studio 4.
I often wondered how the issue comes together and in what order it's planned.  Our tour-guide assistant food editor Sonja gives me the low down:

The issue is brainstormed and a theme is decided.  From there individual areas of the magazine will put forward the ideas for the issue and the editor and food editor will polish/approve the ideas and then a plan is procured.  Each part of the food editorial team takes their share of recipes to develop, and they also contract some external recipe developers.  Michelle Southan, the Food Editor usually almost always will develop and be present for the cover recipe/shoot.  Each recipe is tested, and then added to the schedule.   Stylists are engaged depending on the style of shoot and photographers and home economist/food preparation person is booked.

They have been going for a few hours when we arrive.   Jeremy the photographer, Anita the art director, Tracey the stylist and Miranda the home economist and food preparation person.  We assemble over the photo desk and see what's on the agenda:

We're here for a shoot of the Take 5 section of the magazine, where there are only five ingredients in each dish.  This is particularly challenging as we all know the distinction of food arranging/cooking...

Most dishes are shot 3+ months ahead of time, some shots like the 'In season' are sometimes shot 12 months ahead.

Here's the start of Tracey's styling - ironing the tablecloth and napkin to ensure they look pristine..

Jeremy and Anita are looking over the rest of the photos in the series, before they set up the shoot for the current photograph, to ensure there is balance - both colour-wise and items in the photos.  For example you don't want overload one photograph so it won't flow on from the others

Here is Miranda in the cooking, she has a full list of things to make!  She receives the recipes about a week in advance and is responsible for purchasing all the ingredients she will cook with.  She also does all the washing up!

Whilst Miranda is cooking away Tracey and Jeremy do the test-shoot.  This is to check all the elements are there (except the food) - the position of the items is correct etc. Then they will transfer the plate of food over and start the 'live shoot'.

They check the shot, and make any adjustments if necessary.

Tracey adds some more crumbs to the dish.

Ideally each day will produce 6 images/dishes - at times there are more but that would include a 12+ hour day... no one likes those!

It's not as easy as it looks is it?  I have new found appreciation for the magazine now, can't wait to see the images of the food we saw shot in both the June 2011 issue (I'll be in it people!) and also the November issue.

So what food magazines do you buy? Do you have a favourite?

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5 lovely comments:

Lucy on March 10, 2011 at 6:23 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Liss, I cannot tell you how envious I am. This is fascinating. It never ceases to amaze me, food styling, and how LONG it all takes, but how worth it is is, for me, when I get those magazines home, to devour with my eyes.

Christie @ Fig & Cherry on March 10, 2011 at 7:33 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Fantastic article Liss! Looks like lots of fun and very educational. Looking forward to seeing the improvements in your photos now that you've had all this professional advice!

Danielle on March 10, 2011 at 8:55 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Thanks for sharing Liss, I've always had visions of how they do this and it's a lot of work it seems but oh what a great job to have if food is your passion! How cool!

Fiona Trapani on March 10, 2011 at 9:25 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I too had wondered about this. Looks like fun though...the yummy pictures are well worth where is that new cook book? LOL

Alison @ Life and the little things on March 10, 2011 at 9:40 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I'm loving your behind the scenes. It's absolutely fascinating and a bit like sharing secrets. And I too am also very envious ; ) What a great life you have. Magazines and it! Alison


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