Part soda factory, part bar, PS40 is one of Sydney’s most remarkable bar openings – a beautiful space punctuated with so much colour. Very #grateful for the opportunity to shoot it! Thank you Livia Lima, Thor Bergquist and Michael Chiem for having me.
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Extreme milkshakes. The well-garnished milky beverage game of Sydney has reached peaked virality. Donuts perched upon mason jars, Kit-Kats wedged like an unholy crucifix: doused in chocolate sauce knotted with lashings of whipped cream, a striped straw puncturing everything in its path, impaling every adornment. Heavy handled jars of flavoured milk are spewing from so many cafes in pure copycat style, each establishment attempting to outdo the last, to outplay the originals who rightly hold the claim to fame. Freddo Frogs drowning in salted caramel milk, achingly slow, their faces submerged with that deranged smile like something out of a horror film, ganache is oozing from its enormous lip, pretzels, M&Ms and 100′s and 1000′s tacked on just for show. And the Oreos, my god the Oreos, they’re everywhere, and everyone’s got one, and everyone’s holding one of these extreme milkshakes, gnashing at food for the sake of social media, exchanging calories for notifications, it’s 8 o’clock in the morning and everybody’s drinking them to avoid the hour long lines from the brunching hour onwards to attain the Thing. The cult. The cult of Extreme Milkshakes. It’s here and we’re all trapped in a vortex of milk and Nutella and garnishes the moment we open Instagram.
But, if you can’t beat them, join them. Here are three flavours of my own: S’Mores Chicken, Bacon Burger and Coles Baked Fresh Today Bakery Aisle. Be inspired. Eat marshmallows and chicken. Milkshake flavours are irrelevant now, the duty falls upon whatever lies on top. May God have mercy on us all.
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!
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
The Pie Tin – Peanut butter and chocolate tart
Hartsyard – Peanut butter and banana sundae
4Fourteen – Peanut butter and banana popsicle with honeycomb
The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish – Peanut butter and jelly milkshake
Kürtosh – Peanut butter and chocolate ganache cake
Here are some images from my time at the brand new The Pig and Pastry in Petersham a couple of weeks ago; here’s the article with Jane de Graaff’s story so you can read up on their exciting history and excellent food ethos.
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.
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.
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
Top 10 Eats under $10 in Surry Hills
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.