Outings

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I am only just warming to the disposition of walking around with a camera slung over my shoulder with purpose and confidence, however, when placed in a room full of fellow camera-wielders I begin to feel a little nervous, like ants are crawling in and around my headspace telling me to put the darn thing down. “The human-to-camera ratio all up in here is way out of balance, it’s almost 1:1! You’re part of the problem! Somebody will call you out as a blogger or shamelessly take a photo of your arse again! Photos-of-people-taking-photos-of-food-dot-tumblr-dot-com!! Stahp!“, etc etc.

Regardless, I took some photos in an act of peer-pressure on the day and had forgotten about them until now. Here are some casual moments from my nook at Good Food Month’s at The cook, the stylist the photographers… and the breakfast event in October. I won free tickets, cheers Good Food.

The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast
The cook, the stylist, the photographers… and the breakfast

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The art of collection has always been a theme of #expression I’ve enjoyed well before I had any interest in dabbling in the creative arts. My dad has albums upon albums of photos, a documented history of friends and family beginning from 30+ years ago, and growing up around these stacks of collections is what most likely sparked my fascination with trawling gold-digging through large quantities of thoughtful images.

When somebody takes many photos in similar circumstances certain patterns begin to emerge. Or, more specifically, when I take photos of anything food related, small streams of similarities begin to surface and, with enough time, they eventually evolve into repetitive themes and creating interesting collections. Like my analogue dad, I have folders and folders of photos but instead of being stored in dusty and distinguished photo albums mine are sprawled on my messy drive filed under “Photo patterns / Collections”. At the the faintest hint of repetition I’ll immediately file it away, in a new little folder, hoping one day to have collected a coherent series of images taken over an extended period of time… slowly maturing, fermenting, like a fine wine or stinky cheese. Even as a teenager with a hobbyist holga (don’t hate, appreciate) I’d often capture interesting signs or familiar scenes for collection. Like Pokémon. If I ever see a coffee being poured, or a dog sitting patiently outside of a cafe, my heart irrationally skips a beat and I zoom in real close like a horrendous creep. It’s an unfortunate habit.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve taken more than one photo of baristas pouring coffees and, when viewed all at once, it’s kinda nice. Instead of a Lately on Broadsheet style series I thought I’d instead post some images from a recurring theme we’re all well familiar with. Same but different. I think it’s kinda cool. Or maybe I’m just trying to justify my digital hoarding (I struggle to delete outtake photos at the best of times). So although I take photos to document, I will forever love taking photos to collect… which I appreciate is all very serious for just a bunch of coffee pours.

EDIT 4/2/14: I’m adding more now that I’ve become entirely conscious of this potential collection.


Kitchen by Mike, Rosebery


Lemonia, Annandale


The Pig and Pastry, Petersham


Little Mule, Stanmore


Shenkin Kitchen, Enmore


Bread and Circus, Alexandria


The Counter, Petersham


212 Blu, Newtown


John Montagu, Woolloomooloo


Daisy’s Milkbar, Petersham


Ruby’s Diner, Waverley


Short Black Panther, Mortdale


Affogato Shack, Newtown


Brewtown Newtown, Newtown


Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills

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C-Town Maccas Run: A User's Guide by Giselle StanboroughMcDonald's of Campbelltown

C-Town Maccas Run: A User’s Guide. Words by Giselle Stanborough, photography by Alana Dimou. As part of Das Superpaper’s 28th issue, Western Sydney: A portrait of a place featuring guest editor David Capra.

Consider this article a food review gone wrong. Or an estranged catalogue of food photography. Perhaps a food blogger riding the high of a terrifying power trip or Terry Durack gone way too casual with accompanying photography taking a turn for the not-quite-right. This project is an exploration of the “myth of consistent corporate identity”, which one would assume fairly standard across the board considering the success of the franchise in question. But you’d be wrong.

Accompanying Sydney artists Giselle Stanborough and David Capra we trawled through all 12 McDonald’s restaurants spanning the greater Campbelltown region in Sydney to see if indeed each restaurant was reliable in its assumed standardised, generic offerings (a Big Mac was ordered at each venue as basis for comparison). Under the watchful gaze of Giselle no detail was left unnoticed; general decor in alignment with McDonald’s current promotion, pickle distribution, the array of offerings in the McCafé display, font consistency, were the relief blubs on beverage cups popped accurately? From faded signage, to broken lightboxes, to burnt burgers and typographic grandeur absolutely everything was noted.

An interesting fact about McDonald’s is their no photography policy. Ask politely waving your humble camera and you’ll be greeted with a wavering “no” from a curious adolescent employee and I quickly learned taking photos on the fly and hiding in a corner is no easy task. Regardless, here here are my observations, a portrait of the McDonald’s of Campbelltown. The full article C-Town Maccas Run: A User’s Guide can be found on page 70 of Das SUPERPAPER Issue 28, both an elightning and incredibly amusing read by Giselle I would urge you all to take a look at right away. It’s online now but will be available in print in a few weeks time. Enjoy!

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For whatever reason I never considered posting a whole lot of “work” photos here, y’know, alanabread is all about my food, man. HAHAHAHA, forget that; other people make food a whole lot better than me in spaces far nicer than mine so prepare for a new assault of on-the-job snaps. I’m sure some cafe name dropping won’t go astray for my horrendous SEO either. No, really, I clearly have no understanding of how to make a blog good and accessible to the masses so I’m remedying this with an onslaught of food photos. It’s all I know. This may also be a good time to mention my rarely talked about portfolio site alanadimou.com, check it out (please), hire me (PLEASE).

Speaking of food photos, a little story. Around a month ago I was shooting a Glebe feature for work in a rather narrow little cafe. Space was tight and light was plentiful so I ditched the tripod a crouched before the mighty sandwich for a sweet snap, keeping space clear for potential pedestrians (though when I say crouched I actually mean awkwardly leaning with my arse sticking out). A couple of minutes had passed, I was concentrating on capturing the essence of the sambo until I heard the undeniable artificial shutter snap of a phone photo being taken. I looked up to find a smarmy looking girl, phone in hand, pointed right at me, refusing to make eye contact. A little confused I scanned around the corridor cafe and nobody was nearby; we were the only people in the room. Did… did she just take a photo to poke fun at was I was doing? Was my arse just snapchatted to a plethora of smug chumps? Was I captured alongside a hilarious #hashtag? Am I floating around on instagram somewhere (“LOL FOODIES HAHAHAH”)? Was she jealous of the free pulled-pork sandwich I was just offered?! It honestly didn’t bother me at the time but the more I think about it now the more baffled I am. Paying out people who take photos of food is unedgy, so 2011. Poor form, bad vogue, so if you were trying to make a joke out of me that wasn’t very #relevant. But congratulations, you successfully trolled me in retrospect, I’m now more self-conscious than ever. I’ll never take photos naked (sans sturdy tripod) again, it’s my humiliation salvation…. either that or I’ll be a strong girl and keep these sentiments in mind. Yeah, let’s stick with the latter.

Back to peanut butter chat. I was made for this assignment. Like, if the good lord put me on earth to do one thing it was to shoot this story; Peanut Buttered (here’s the entire article by Alecia Wood). If you saw me heaving around the inner-west streets of Sydney recently this is why. Peanut butter is in my veins. After this week I may need to get into this #clean #eating thing. Enjoy the PB assault, quinoa eating bastards turn away now please.

Devon Cafe - Little Lost Brioche
Devon Cafe – Little Lost Brioche

The Pie Tin - Peanut butter and chocolate tart
The Pie Tin – Peanut butter and chocolate tart

Hartsyard - Peanut butter and banana sundae
Hartsyard – Peanut butter and banana sundae

4Fourteen - Peanut butter and banana popsicle
4Fourteen – Peanut butter and banana popsicle with honeycomb

The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish - Peanut butter and jelly milkshake
The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish – Peanut butter and jelly milkshake

Kurtosh - Peanut butter and chocolate ganache cake
Kürtosh – Peanut butter and chocolate ganache cake

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This weekend I visited some places I’d not been to in nearly 20 years (I’m the daughter of winery fan parents, you see); historic little Berrima. No anecdotes or quirky remarks from me today, just some photos documenting a #quaint afternoon. Consider this a personal editorial on a few of my favourite spots in the area; The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop, Joadja Winery, new favourite Two Skinny Cooks and some very shy cows. Needless to say all photos by me except for the photo of me (thanks, Steve!).

Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima
Berrima

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Do you know that feel of walking into a Sydney establishment entirely void of #sydneyfoodtrends? I don’t. Until I was commissioned to shoot a leisurely brunch at Foley Lane in Darlinghurst to coincide with their new morning offerings.

I’m not here to write a review on the establishment (just between you and me though the food was excellent), I was asked to capture some brunchy vibes on a Sunday morning so I set up shop (tripod) by the window, dropped the bokeh and once again became both enthralled and frustrated by what was happening in my camera.

DISCLAIMER: I am an idiot. A big, ridiculous idiot. As such I write little posts and draw little things to reinforce what I’ve learnt that day to aid my goldfish-like memory. The last thing I want to exude are wanker vibes (because I bloody hate self-righteous photographers) so if I sound like a horrible person, do let me know, otherwise these are notes for myself which I feel may be helpful to others rocking a camera within the Sydney food scene. MWA MWA and thank you.

When I first started taking food photos I used to do a lot of stupid things. I’d google map the venue the night before in a panic to check if any trees were obscuring the moneyshot out the front. I’d look up reviews to get a feel of the space then panic if the room was too small, too big, too wide or too narrow. I’d panic if there weren’t any spare tables to take a food shot. I’d panic about insufficient light so would place food as close to windows as possible. But here’s the most idiotic of all my amateur habits; I would panic about not having enough photos, or not looking busy enough, and would take the same photo of the same plate at the same angle at least 6 times. This is dumb for a couple of reasons; 1) only an fool does the same thing twice and expects a different result, and 2) spinning the plate around or moving a step the the left to mix it up a little can completely change the photo. It pays to stop and re-evaluate and for real pondering over a plate of pickled mushrooms with a camera in hand makes you look legitimately professional.

Light sources are many and varied and chances are you’ll be confronted by a number of different ones at your table. The Foley Lane challenge was to find the correct balance since I was shooting beside windows. On top of this I had the added annoyance of an indecisive sunny/overcast day, a major pain in the arse, so plates and settings were constantly being adjusted whenever an obnoxious cloud glided by the sun. Another challenge is that many of these plates were smattered with white food; ricotta of doom, mozzarella of death. White foods are hard to shoot. Do not get me started. They are testament to the fact shooting at the same angle with the sun does nothing to flatter said dish (this is just a personal philosophy here) so shoot at an angle to score some sweet shadows for definition. Here’s an example of how shuffling things around and ever so slightly changing your angle can make for a much better photo; all I did was swap the mushrooms and fried green tomatoes, moved a coffee and crouched a little lower.

But the most important thing is to keep calm and carry on (and don’t take the same photo 6 times). You can’t go wrong with background greenery. Be alert but not alarmed when white food is involved. Blurred hands and cutlery give that ~rustic, human touch~ if you’re into that sort of thing. Take photos of all the dogs. There might just be an enormous Bloody Mary waiting for you when you’re finished.

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Consider this post an evolution of my time as an intern at Time Out Sydney; lately I’ve been contributing here and there to Sydney lifestyle publication Broadsheet. Please take my hand and join me on my ~photographic journey~.

As always the experience is doing my simple head in (in the best possible way) and with a job like this it’s difficult not to learn something new each day. Photography of this nature is not simply a case of pressing a button before a nicely presented plate (though I’m not denying a higher, more colourful dish is easier to shoot); it’s problem solving and adapting to the space, it’s finding where the light lays and learning how to use it to your advantage. If it sucks you need to manipulate, if it’s not there you need to create it. It’s easy in this day and age define a photographer simply by somebody who owns a camera and the better the camera the better the photo therefore the better the photographer BUT a long shutter speed or bokeh explosion won’t always make a good photo. You can own the fanciest camera with the biggest sensor on the most stable tripod but that won’t help either. Food photography is small and finicky so it’s difficult to hide any mistakes. All very obvious in theory but I sometimes forget these things in the moment, camera in hand, being caught in almost torrential rain with a big, ugly ute obscuring my dream angle (true story from the other week).

So, if there’s one thing I’ve leant these past few weeks it’s that circumstances may vary and you gotta deal with that. Again, very obvious, but I’m forgetful and this sentiment isn’t always at the forefront of my mind as it should be.

Epiphanies aside it’s been really nice walking around Sydney meeting wonderful people and occasionally trying their excellent food. Here are some photos from the past few weeks.

Chicken skewers @ Shortgrain

Daily salads @ Arthur Street Kitchen

Cheese + pico quesadilla @ Beach Burrito

Beef brisket sandwich @ The Sandwich Shop

RivaReno Gelato, Darlinghurst

Jafe Jaffles Kombi

The Bourbon, Kings Cross

Roast pork panini @ La Macelleria

Margarita pizza @ Gourmet Slice

Crispy quail @ Miss Chu

Chicago style hotdog @ Bishop Sessa

St Peters Summer Garden + Urban Farm

Lemonia, Annandale

If you’d like to see the photo sets and articles in their entirety please visit the below…
RivaReno: From Italy to Darlinghurst
Top 10 Eats under $10 in Bondi
Toasty: Jaffles are Making a Comeback
The Bourbon Bar Rises Again
An Urban Farm in Sydney Park
Lemonia Cafe
Top 10 Eats under $10 in Surry Hills

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Multiracial life is an interesting one. People on the street sometimes speak to me in languages I don’t understand and my dual appearance often has me feeling uncomfortable in my own, somewhat tanned skin as I fit neither here nor there. Back in the old MySpace days I found their “nationality” profile section insufficient. In Japan I was mistaken for being French and in France I was mistaken for being Italian. I was paid out for having a big nose as a child but these days I’m complimented on my coveted, high cheekbones. The symbol of a watermelon as a prelude for party-times is ingrained in every thread of my being and the number of times sweet old gentlemen have approached me with “YOU GRIK GAHL?” is a relentless joy, both a blessing and a curse.

My amazing plan this week was to document both sides of my family, The Egyptians and The Cypriots, and how their Christmas celebrations draw exciting parallels despite their geographic difference; food served in loved Bessemer, lunch of both traditional and modern dishes, watermelon. When I first began this blog my intention was to highlight my colourful ethnic background illustrating these sorts of get-togethers but in almost one-and-a-half years nothing of the sort ever eventuated. Until now. My amazing plan fell short of amazing as I hadn’t factored in the amazing food coma element. Cameras and food, man. My eye for symmetry blurred significantly under the weight of BBQ lamb, chicken, duck, molokhia, fresh seafood, ham, kashk, stuffed tomato, my Teta’s famous crème caramel and more (I feel heavy). But I tried. I tried and then I fell asleep on a couch somewhere. I think my brother summed it up best in an instagram post simply captioned Dat wog lunch :’). Oh well, better luck next year.


















I wish you all the best time this holiday season, enjoy your time off, enjoy time with your friends and family and I’ll see you all in the new year with some new recipe posts. :)

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Saturday





















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The end of last week marked the last day of my 3-month internship as a café/food photographer for Time Out Sydney. Wait, what internship?! I was keeping this a little quiet as even I found it rather overwhelming (in the best possible way) because really, what’s more confronting than being presented an opportunity to do something you love? (SELF-DEPRECIATORS UNITE). Paralleling the near completion of my degree the harsh realities of life have begun to set in and sadly I decided to turn down Time Out’s offer to continue interning to persue, well, a real job. SIGH, the food photography dream is over (for now).

In lieu of the current absence of any sort of vague employment that burns like a dark and horrible void in my life (lol jks I’m fine guys) I now have a lovely collection of photos I’d love to share with you. SO! If you’re from SYDNEY and you like FOOD and PHOTOS this post is especially for you; hold onto your TASTEBUDS, bust out your wide-angled LENSES and set up your TRIPODS in the middle of a BUSY SPACE and feel totally AWKWARD with me as I present you with a few of my favourite spots I was asked to shoot.

Black by Ezard at The Star, Pyrmont
Another fine dining contender to the seemingly-empty-but-ever-improving Pyrmont area. A torturous shoot as I was pining over everything, especially that honeycomb dessert. A lady yelled at me because she thought I was taking her photo (I wasn’t).

Black by Ezard at the Star, Pyrmont
Black by Ezard at the Star, Pyrmont
Black by Ezard at the Star, Pyrmont
Black by Ezard at the Star, Pyrmont
Black by Ezard at the Star, Pyrmont
Black by Ezard at the Star, Pyrmont
Black by Ezard at the Star, Pyrmont
Black by Ezard at the Star, Pyrmont
Black by Ezard at the Star, Pyrmont

 

Porch and Parlour, Bondi
A sweet abode with honest food populated by friendly locals and total Bondi bros alike. I’d be happy to call this my local should I one day live in the area (though not likely thanks to my fear of sand). Dish pictured below is smoked salmon and avocado on quinoa bread, a gluten free oasis on a plate.



Porch and Parlour, Bondi
Porch and Parlour, Bondi
Porch and Parlour, Bondi
Porch and Parlour, Bondi
Porch and Parlour, Bondi
Porch and Parlour, Bondi
Porch and Parlour, Bondi

 

La Croix, Potts Point
Part coffee corridor, part café, part designer showroom. Beautiful wares in a gorgeous space specialising in tartines and tarte tatin (I had to double-check the spelling of each, that sentence is a minefield). I visited a few weeks later with friends and both were excellent; sitting amongst the immaculately staged glassware and roses had me feeling like a million bucks (however strangely oscillating between both casual and fine dining). Would be interested to hear what others think of this café.

La Croix, Potts Point
La Croix, Potts Point
La Croix, Potts Point
La Croix, Potts Point
La Croix, Potts Point
La Croix, Potts Point
La Croix, Potts Point
La Croix, Potts Point

 

The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria
And of course no Sydney food blog would be complete with some snaps from the Grounds! Haha! I’m a walking cliché. These were taken on my first day watching and learning so here are some quick sneakies; it also illustrates my former self hinged on taking closeups, closeups and more closeups (I very quickly learnt to stop that immediately).

The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria
The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria
The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria

Big, big thanks to the team at Time Out for the opportunity! It was such a great experience, learning heaps (a royal buttload, in fact), conquering my holding-a-camera-in-public phobia (is this a thing? It should be a thing), seeing my photos in print and meeting some really sweet café and restaurant owners. I think they’re hiring another intern so if you’re a potential camera wielder do apply, you’ll be a better person for it.

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