Up above there’s an image. Inside the image is my name – christian, maiden and married. Beneath the name is a tag line, FOOD STORIES, with a breakdown of what I do – food writer | stylist | broadcaster. Under the logo is a mug of pea soup, a pale pink linen napkin and a sprinkling of radish sprouts. Some might think it’s a simple, soft image. But to me it tells a different story, a story about a brick wall, a plan to plough through it, a journey, a learning curve, a happy ending and a new beginning.
The story starts with an invoice. It was a grey November day, the kind that’s perfect for boring but necessary administrative tasks. I was happier than usual. I had just signed up with FreshBooks cloud accounting. Up until that point I had sent invoices from a pathetic word document. I couldn’t send an invoice remotely; my invoices lived inside my computer, fixed to the wall. My new system felt so… boss. As I added costs and expenses to my invoice, (while in the kitchen- imagine!) FreshBooks prompted me to upload my logo into the invoice template. Logo? what logo? I didn’t have one, mainly because I always considered my jobs too disparate to be distilled into a tidy image – writer, recipe tester, host, podcaster, food and prop stylist. It just doesn’t flow. So of course this led to a downward spiral… How could I distill myself down if I didn’t even know what I was all about? I needed help. I needed a new website. But before that I needed someone to hold my hand and help me choose what was important to include in this new site. What truly sparked joy.
So I hired a branding team, Braid, to sort me out. They held my hand and pulled the answers out of ME, because of course, they were inside me all along. Together we added FOOD STORIES to my brand. Food stories are the common thread that run through everything I do. I tell food stories – through words, on television, on my podcast, while styling, while cooking and through photography.
The last piece is where the pea soup comes in. Photography, beyond my iPhone, is something I’ve been working on since 2013. That’s when my husband gave me a Canon for my 40th birthday. I used to think, way back when, that food styling and food photography were very separate careers. The former embodies the right side of the brain while the latter is the left. Jill Dupleix, (a food columnist for the Guardian while I was living in London over ten years ago) was the exception. I used to look at her recipes with images shot by Jill herself, and wonder…how can a person handle the technical sides of a camera and create beautiful food images AT THE SAME TIME?
Clearly Jill wasn’t the only one. As food media grew, and the years passed, food blogs cropped up starring right and left brain women. They were everywhere. It was all so un-feminist of me.
Fortunately I got over myself. I learned to lean in. I learned the importance of learning something new. I learned that being able to control the look of my work was so freeing. Of course photography is a work in progress, everything is. But the journey has been the best part. I’ve become a student again. I’ve made new friends and seen amazing places, from even the most intimate of perspectives. Like the bathroom floor. Yes, this little bowl of soup is sitting on a cement floor between a shower and a sink. I shot it while attending a food photography workshop instructed by Beth of Local Milk, Sanda of Little Upside Down Cake and Nadia of The Hill Workshops. A dream team. This particular morning we were given soup, props and full run of an old French farmhouse. This spot, with the light streaming through an open door, the rough texture of the floor and the gentle pinks of the sprouts seemed to work well together. The linen napkin, twisted perfectly by Beth, added a little softness.
So that’s the whole story, a story all about a mug of soup, a napkin and sprouts, a logo, a problem, a solution, an epiphany, a process and a bathroom floor.