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Whenever you open a magazine and you see the wonderful glossy images of food with a gleaming kitchen in the background all prepared lovingly by a person with an easy smile, just bear in mind that this is all a wonderful illusion and not at all what happens on a real photo shoot with real cooking involved.

I am proud to call myself an avid cook and writer. It is a delight for me to write about cooking and forgotten methods. However, I am by no means an experienced photographer and with the best will in the world I cannot fathom how to successfully photograph myself cooking. Yes, I know the camera can be set on tripod and that there is a timer function etc., but frankly in amongst the cries of ‘’Mummy look at this’’, that seem to ring in my ears from the moment I wake and even haunt in slumber I sometimes find switching the camera on a challenge. Well, not to digress too much, I had written a perfectly charming piece on the wonderful art of raising a pork pie by hand and then the challenge of taking some images to accompany it lay before me.

_MG_9081[1] (Small)When in need of a stand-in photographer and someone to make copious cups of coffee I am always glad that I don’t live too far away from my dear friends Nancy and Blue.  So a distress call was made and Blue enthusiastically agreed to be my photographer for the day in exchange for a steak and kidney pie or two. As I arrived at their house with my rolling pin, ingredients, props and chatterbox children, it was evident that my lovely friends had made an extra effort to get their kitchen into a space fit for a photo shoot.

A quick cup of coffee was enjoyed before the photographic experience started. In no time at all hot crust pastry was being raised and pork was being bashed and ground, whilst jellied stock simmered on the stove. Images were being captured at the speed of light, what a wonderful team we made you may think and indeed we were all feeling mighty pleased with our efforts. As the light faded and pie number four was in the making, we were all battle hardened, but somewhat weary. A retreat was not an option, but an end didn’t seem to be in sight. The kitchen no longer looked picture perfect, but instead looked as if it had been invaded by a team of professional mess makers. The kitchen sink was stacked with so many pots and pans that it could barely be seen and every surface was covered with missed photographic opportunities. Indeed I had not headed my mother’s advice of ‘clean up as you go’ and as I am fast learning mothers are invariably always right._MG_9070[1] (Small)

A half-hearted clean-up operation took place, before the game pie shoot commenced. As we struggled with the fading light, table lamps were commandeered for the good of the pie photography cause. At half past seven in the evening the last pie was taken out of the oven and as a sense of relief washed over me I suddenly realised that this was not a sign that I could down tools, but of the need to take more photographs.  A glance at a rather chaotic kitchen and at a hungry looking Blue crouching on a chair with my camera concluded my suspicions:  glossy magazine images of pies don’t tally with reality.

Thankfully the pie photography day did draw to an end and we did gain some very nice images.  When I see the article in print I shall always reflect on how wonderful it is to have good friends and wonder whether they will ever fancy doing another photo shoot. Thanks Nancy and Blue, you are worth your weight in pies!IMG_1093[1] (Small)

Well until next time, a fond farewell from West Wales

Seren

 

 

 

 

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

ABOUT SEREN-CHARRINGTON-HOLLINS Describing my work through just one job title is difficult; because my professional life sees me wear a few hats: Food Historian, period cook, broadcaster, writer and consultant. I have a great passion for social and food history and in addition to researching food history and trends I have also acted as a consultant on domestic life and changes throughout history for a number of International Companies. In addition to being regularly aired on radio stations; I have made a number of television appearances on everything from Sky News through to ITV’s Country House Sunday, Holiday of a Lifetime with Len Goodman , BBC4’s Castle’s Under Siege, BBC South Ration Book Britain; Pubs that Built Britain with Hairy Bikers and BBC 2’s Inside the Factory. Amongst other publications my work has been featured in Period Living Magazine, Telegraph, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Great British Food Magazine and I write regularly for a variety of print and online publications. I am very fortunate to be able to undertake work that is also my passion and never tire of researching; recreating historical recipes and researching changing domestic patterns. Feel free to visit my blog, www.serenitykitchen.com