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I often wonder what life would be like if I moved to Melbourne. I suppose it would be the same business as in Sydney: instead of burgers bespoke doughnuts are the trend de jour and instead of Sydney Festival’s Higher Ground a plethora of locals are taking selfies on Carsten Höller’s Golden Mirror Carousel at the NGV. “Why won’t these people just live in the moment?!” I scream interally, as I snapchat every single friend the specifics of my hotel room and instagram the magnificent pool, a smattering of self-indulgence and hypocrisy spilling out of me.

Only an hour after arriving, a proposed detox from my usual routine, I exploded into stress personified at a South Melbourne cafe – shaking hands, unfathomably restless legs, all the trimmings – and why? Because I was seated at the bar, facing a wall, beneath an orange light, which we all know to be instagram suicide. Since when did life get so hard? And why did I find a bone in this sea bream sashimi? Why won’t that restaurant I like take reservations for dinner and where the hell is my lobster roll? I can’t download Tram Tracker because my iPhone storage is full. Oh My God.

Every morning it’s the same mild existential crisis, but today I’m alive in a different state, the promised land for the creative, yet somehow my mind isn’t soothed.

I’m not working yet I’ll take a camera and point it at literally everything out of habit, expecting each frame to appear in the viewfinder as a Frankie-worthy piece of art, instead it’s all meaningless symmetry, just like at home, a weird reminder of my first-world job I can’t seem to switch off from. The white sky mirrors my blandness, I’m taking photos of some nice looking succulents on the street for some reason.

I often wonder what life would be like if I moved to Melbourne, I’ll open a successful pop-up exploiting the street food of my ancestors, my photography and copywriting skills will be put to excellent use, online press will talk about me until I’m the latest trend and my UrbanSpoon percentage will plummet due to everyone’s unfairly high expectations. But it’s ok, because the streets are wide and the taxis are comically yellow. Haha, so cute. But realistically, instead of visiting neat small bars and wholesome eateries with kind friends I’d most likely mimic my Sydney self, at my worst falling into a comfortable and unfortunate routine of staring into the eternal splash screen of, wondering how I came to reach my lowest common denominator self once again, but at least this time there will be a different view outside of my window.

How To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne II
How To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne II

Places of (food) interest: The Kettle Black, Supernormal, New Gold Mountain, Kokoro, Om Nom, Pop Up Scroll, Grand Trailer Park Taverna, Two Row

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ONCE UPON A TIME THIS WAS ACCEPTABLE. (You can consider this post an act of nostalgia, some thinly veiled vanity in regards to self improvement or simply some straight up lols fresh out of 2008.)

I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a bad photo or bad photographer, just a bad attitude behind said photo or photographer. Armed with a fuji point-and-shoot as I travelled the globe almost 6 years ago I’d like to think the photos you see posted below were taken with both earnest intentions and a light heart and as such I feel it’s only right to give them the attention they deserve. Let’s transport ourselves back to a time where the food you ate was not a badge of honour nor was the dish you ordered a notch on your gluttonous bed post. It was part of the ordinary everyday and taking a photo of your dinner wasn’t a thing, a fad or a taboo; you could take a casual photo of it as if it were a friend or a cute dog. Auto mode! Turn on the flash! I would use flash all the time if I could!

These images retain a certain innocence, relics of an era before the complex and ubiquitous beast that is food blogging entered our precious lives.

They’re unappetising, poorly framed and ill-considered to anybody of this day and age; it’s funny how such simple notions become so dated (and offensive), huh? They represent documentation rather than collection so please enjoy, no, celebrate, something that would now be considered “a little bit shit”. Appreciate a simpler time with me, please.



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Rosemary poached apricot and wine poached pear crostini

Imagine telling our famished ancestors that some people these days create plates of food just to improve their SEO. “Oh, this isn’t a plate, it’s an enamelware prop“. “Can I eat yet?”, “no! I need to take a photo!”

I’m not one for profound reflection but if 2013 has taught me anything it’s that of the fine art (and dark art) of the facade.

I write in my about section that the “true value of food as a homely and generous act” is perhaps being lost amongst 1) the desire to articulate every single thing we cook, and 2) the need to document every single thing we eat. Articulation takes time whereas hot food on a plate has a considerably short shelf life as we collect our thoughts and adjust the settings in our cameras.

We’re shrouded in duplicate information of the hottest new Sydney spots and are bombarded with images of staged food. Occasionally people who make food at home for themselves/friends/family choose not to live in the delicious moment and instead place a board behind their dinner, delicately locate a fork at a whimsical angle and take a photo. Sometimes if the food goes cold it goes into the bin.

I’ve been guilty of this myself, though less so than I used to, so I understand, but I find the whole “recipe blogging” process irritating if it becomes a wasteful act.

Cutlery shopping is now “prop sourcing”, whipping up something new is now “recipe developing” and I feel the whole scene is becoming too self important with a disregard of spontaneity and generosity which, with food, is really important.

So my faux-revalation for the coming year is; keep it real and drop the act and facade of stylised food. Once in a while ditch the props, don’t worry if your photo isn’t perfect and relish in the now of documenting how things look rather than how you’d like them to look as you’re sharing them. Don’t listen to what you’ve heard, using flash can be awesome (Vice, are you listening?? I’m cool. Somebody’s even throwing up their rude finger in one of these photos). By all means go snap happy, just don’t berate your friends for eating a dish you generously prepared for them because you need to style it with a different spoon. Hands look better in food photos anyway and honest images speak volumes alongside the constantly artificial and staged.

SO! Here are some crostini I prepared for NYE (sans toasting, no time and too much effort); wine poached pears with a holy trinity of cheese and rosemary poached apricots with ricotta. They’re not heaps beautiful of typically photoworthy but that’s ok! My friends enjoyed them and that’s all that matters. Someone even shouted “ALANA ARE YOU BLOGGING?!” from the balcony as some flash spilled from the kitchen, and that’s ok too, because I was only “blogging” for a few seconds. Happy 2014.

For the poached rosemary apricots
Collect some generous sprigs of rosemary for your backyard (or local store). Dissolve a cup of sugar in four cups of water in a pan over a stove and allow the rosemary to infuse. Meanwhile halve the apricots and remove the pips. Simmer in the rosemary syrup for around 5 minutes and transfer to a baking dish with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with some caster sugar and place under a hot grill until tops are burnished. Meanwhile, reduce the poaching liquid and you’ll have a nice rosemary syrup to use for drinks and other things. Assemble by spreading ricotta on some sliced baguette, then an apricot half, then some fresh rosemary leaves.

For the wine poached pears and cheese
Dissolve three quarters of a cup of sugar in some nasty red wine you have floating around the house in a saucepan and add three sliced pears to simmer. Once tender (15ish minutes), remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool. Combine 150g of cream cheese, 200g of feta and 80g of stinky stilton into a holy trinity cheesy spread (these are approximate measurements, add to taste). Assemble by spreading stinky goodness on bread then adoring with a couple of pieces of sliced pear.

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Mars Bar Slice

The Aussie “slice” is the lowest common denominator of cooking. Basic, ugly and entirely void of class it’s a “dessert”, or a black hole of effort, that exists only to be ridiculed (unless legitimately prepared by a legitimately busy parent… maybe). The butt of all my culinary jokes, the humble sloice is an atrocity that should be thrown into the bin or into the ocean or into a bin in the ocean.

This being said, my mum, a tremendous cook, occasionally made Mars Bar slice when I was younger and at 26 and child-less I thought it was as good a time as any to show my friends how much I truly care about them by serving an effortless (not a compliment) yet entirely iconic slab of chocolate and butter. I love you, guys.

And speaking of things I don’t enjoy (slices, not my friends), can we stop with the Christmas-in-Winter paraphernalia? Each and every one of my senses has been clogged with snowing icing sugar on cakes (no), cinnamon in everything (nope) and Santa hats because clearly we require extra warmth this time of year. I’m entirely guilty of this in my debut year as a WordPress-wielder but I’ve since moved on. Incorrect seasonal recipes deserve a swift kick into the appropriate hemisphere because this is Australia and all good Australians should respect their country by making a hideous slice at least once in their lives rather than preparing Winter desserts in Summer and anointing them with currants and fake reindeer. Put a mango on it or something.

I used a recipe from Best Recipes; it sucked when out of the fridge for a little while so try using less butter if you wanna give it a red hot go. Embrace the culinary filth, showcase your lack of finesse by doing a terrible job of cutting it into neat squares, stack them in a little tupperware box and take to a picnic to share around. Enjoy the warm embrace of cheap, melted chocolate in and around your mouth and all over your fingers. I dare you. It’s the easiest way to enjoy a genuine slice of Australiana. It’s gross but it’s the best… somehow.

Mars Bar Slice
Mars Bar Slice
Mars Bar Slice
Mars Bar Slice
Mars Bar Slice

Mars Bar Slice (from Best Recipes)
3 x 72g Mars Bars
90g salted butter
3 cups Rice Bubbles
200g milk chocolate

1. Line a tin, or your best Bessemer, with baking paper.
2. Melt Mars Bars and butter in the microwave, stir until smooth (the nougat part of the Mars Bars probably won’t budge though). Pour over the Rice Bubbles in a heat-proof bowl and combine until evenly distributed and the cereal covered. Pour into lined tin and press down until even (a potato masher works a treat for this).
3. Melt chocolate in microwave and pour over flattened Rice Bubble mixture. Smooth out and place in fridge for a few hours until firm enough to slice into awkward squares.

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Exercise your right to #wanderlust by capturing the clouds. After all, you’re in the sky, you’re intrepid, you’re an urban explorer.

Have a picnic with friends new and old, celebrate a birthday, take a photo of #kooky shit only Melbourne has to offer and shoot each meal as if every plate were a badge of honour (or don’t, because you’re a self-aware blog-haver). Ambiguously instagram. Drown yourself in coffee and pretend you’re not a walking cliché. Stride past Messina and scoff, saunter past Lord of the Fries and surrender. Enjoy the company of your travel compadre and share a cake from Le Bon. Take in the street art, appreciate the urban decay. “Trams are so great, aren’t they?”. Triumphantly embrace the cold as if you were the only person on earth to favour the winter months. Find yourself easily impressed by everything.

Oops, camera is on the wrong setting, everything’s blurry. Ohh, it’s kinda arty, huh! So Melbourne.

Sigh at the airport and lose your boarding pass. Sit beside a horrendously scarred window. Try and take a photo of the world below and it sucks. It’s just a metaphor for everything, because everything sucks when you’re heading home. The familiar feels uncomfortable and your home city suddenly seems… questionable. Cool emotions, Sydney-sider; time to faceplant into the marshmallow bag you scored from Burch and Purchese at your desk.

For the sake of food blog relevance, here are the places I ate at and would recommend to all: Cumulus Inc., Cookie, Fitzrovia, Proud Mary, Taxi Dining Room, Burch and Purchese, Padre Coffee, Queen Victoria Market, Le Bon, Slow Beer, Miss Marmalade.

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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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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, 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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The internet. The world wide wonderful web. The excellent computer box. It’s a place where tremendous things happen, opportunity is spawned, communication is easier than ever. Love flourishes. Dreams are realised. It’s a place where we can all have a chat, share our stories and get along nicely.

50 per cent of the time, at least.

My love/hate relationship with the internet machine knows no bounds. Much like the joys of sending daily ugly snapchat selfies to my best friends the internet has, in a lot of cases, been good to me. Opportunity, communication, education, employment fit for a Young Creative™. I’m sure many others can relate to me on this happy internet friendSHIP.

The other 50 percent of the time… well. Despite the internet providing a beautiful soapbox for worthy voices it has also conveniently placed a loud unwarranted megaphone in the hands of any person with an entitled attitude. After starting a new job in social media within the ~food biz~ and becoming more involved in food/interior photography therefore meeting more and more restaurant owners my anxieties surrounding said amateur reviewers are beginning to worsen. I’m not sure where to begin but I’m going to try because we should open more dialogue about the internet; an unregulated wonderland used for both good and evil.

Anything anybody writes on the internet is deemed as publishing. Whether you, professional writers or traditional printing houses like it or not this has become a new truth. The moment somebody hits publish or submit on a CMS of any form the words are essentially set in (online) stone, forever cached somewhere in the internet air buzzing all around us. If you strip back website layouts, logos and author credit a piece of text reviewing an establishment looks just as official as the next. And herein lies the problem.

Before I begin, a disclaimer: food bloggers aren’t professionals and I understand that. They don’t need to be food experts. There are so many lovely blogs who are very kind in documenting what they eat around town (Vegetaraian’s post Is Loving Food Enough? is a good read on this). This is not a hate post to all the review blogs out there, because I enjoy 95% of them; this is a post outlining where I feel some troubles lie and both bloggers and reviewers may not realise the potential harm they may cause with even a couple of stray, reckless yet unintentional words. This issue is relevant to me because I see it happening on a mostly daily basis as part of my job.

What I’m about to say refers to people who have either transcended the positive hobbyist (whether they realise it or not) or those who just love to have a bloody good whinge on the internet (boo; these guys can be simply summed up in example 2). This post is directed at the at those causing a ruckus on the amateur review scene, food bloggers with (sometimes unknowingly) harsh tongues and entitled complainers of the nation. Here are three personal eyebrow raisers feat. relevant examples indicative, in my eyes, of an unjust review.

Example 1: Fact checking / Assumptions
Owners of an establishment I’m working with at the moment mentioned, amongst all the wonderful and positive reviews of their business, somebody had mentioned one of their side dishes contained too much sugar and they should fix it. In actual fact their dish contains no sugar and the sweetness derives from slow cooking the veggies until completely caramelised. It’s ok to write without being an expert but in this case this sort of assumption is not kind to the owners. Furthermore, another food review said something to this effect when writing of a restaurant I’m also involved in “… don’t be surprised because you might be maybe waiting for a take away coffee for up to an hour”. Might? Maybe? Did you actually wait for an hour? No. Stop that.

Example 2: Don’t write what you wouldn’t say in person
I read a review based outside of Sydney which described a situation wherein a staff member had spilt food on a customer and reconciled the accident with free drinks. They were not satisfied with this outcome. The blogger then went on to say they did not want to make this known at the time or in person but instead felt compelled to write about their discontent in the blog post as the right thing to do. There’s a lot wrong with this and I feel most people who make unwarranted complaints on UrbanSpoon and Eatability etc easily fall into this category. If you can’t say it in person don’t publish it on the eternal book of the internet. That’s what I like to call straight up internet cowardice.

Example 3: Writing critically does not make you a critic
I came across this particular food blog review at work whilst researching what people had to say about the establishment. The blogger was estimating prices (much higher than the actual cost) despite having attached the receipts to the end of the post and constantly made (in my opinion) snide remarks about the smallest detail in almost every dish. After reading around the entire blog it seemed to be this blogger’s “thing”. Cool story bro, and this goes for everyone; unless you’re trained in the culinary arts I’m not sure it’s fair to be making calls like this on absolutely every morsel you place into your golden mouth hole.

As we all know there’s a great difference between the amateur food reviewer and the professional food writer and it seems, unfortunately, the most overlooked attribute is thus; professional food writers are held accountable for their words whereas amateur food reviewers are not. This is a big deal. And as aforementioned, strip back a website to just the text and a review will look just as legitimate as the next (typos not withstanding). If Terry Durack wrote an uninformed review about a new up-and-coming establishment he would be crucified whereas an amateur foodie, despite having published the same hypothetical piece to a similar audience, glides on by. We are in a position where hiding behind the guise of “amateur”, “foodie” or “honest review” is no longer legitimate. Dude, you just published a really negative review, would you say this to the face of the chef and all of the staff? Would you really tell the head chef his canapé needs less batter? Would you get up off your seat to tell the barista to use different beans? If the staff member was as nonchalant as you say to the point of wanting to say something about it shouldn’t this matter be resolved in person? Now the whole internet can read it and anytime somebody googles “[restaurant]” these potentially detrimental words are available for all to see in glowing, web standard font. The owners will read it and if your review was unfair they will be incredibly hurt. We don’t know their situation, they could be struggling, it’s a tough economic climate. We should be supporting small businesses as best as we can because, as we know the rent is high here in Sydney, times are difficult and restaurants are closing here left right and centre and it’s a damn shame. Yes, the service may not have been great, one of your coffees wasn’t perfect. They might have a staff shortage that day, something in the kitchen might have broken. You just don’t know what could be happening in the background.

Online reviews are now such a big deal the Restaurant and Catering Association have today called upon the ACCC demanding further accountability from sites like UrbanSpoon, etc (relevant article here) and, in my opinion and the opinion of some restaurant owners I’ve spoken to, it’s only a matter of time before blogs are brought into the spotlight. I foresee defamation cases in the not-so-distant future. I am not accusing you, dear reader, of restaurant trollin’ but am instead encouraging others who review towards the negative side to check themselves. This is classic Internet vs IRL disconnect applied to food blogging; one negative comment can ruin the chef’s day, the owner’s day, the social media monkey’s (hello) day. Speaking up at the time of issue seems to be a lost art thanks to Dear Internet.

So, the point I’m trying to make here is before you hit publish or submit on a review or comment, before you head to that Facebook page to voice your concerns very publicly, just think; is it really necessary? Is this the type of thing you would outwardly shout to room full of head chefs and staff without filter? Don’t be critical for the sake of wanting to be a critic, ensure your food facts are correct because you’re writing to an audience of impressionable people and what you say could be detrimental to both a person’s business and livelihood. Yes the internet is unpoliced but that is exactly why we have a responsibility to treat social networking with respect and not exploit the privilege of freer-than-ever speech.

And, if your experience really is that bad you can’t possibly give them the benefit of the doubt, speak with the establishment directly, privately and in person rather than shouting it across the online seas for all to see and hear. I know they’d appreciate the (IRL) feedback.

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
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