Food and Photography are a way of life here at Camont. We Instagram and post to Facebook all the time. However, when Tim Clinch comes to town with his bag of magic light tricks, I click into a different gear- cook/stylist/author. Each part of my work influences the others and we bounce ideas around as we create. As a cook first, stylist second, I plan my recipes with the story in mind- something super seasonal, something personal. Then the stylist-me says, “what’s it going to look like?” And I look at color, texture, shape. From the shopping for the best, freshest, most saturated colorful produce to the carefully creative plating that allows the food to star, I keep these three golden rules in mind.

Number one- I go shopping with open eyes.  Cooking for photographs is an art in itself, separate from a dinner party, restaurant crowd, or cooking class. I am looking for the superstars of the kitchen- that perfectly ripe, very local ingredient that shouts France. The food doesn’t have be perfect but it has to be fresh; old tired carrots, sad supermarket apples, flabby pale pork are not part of our ethos. We often photograph at the market en situ so you see where we shop. “Shopping is cooking,” is my kitchen mantra.

Next, I start cooking as fast as I can. The light is best in the morning and we are hungry we when wake!  Tim’s photographs always makes everyone hungry, too, and that’s the point. But how to cook for that eagle eye who captures the taste of France with his machines? I’ve developed a few tricks of my own.  I usually have three recipes in the works for a morning- 1. something that has to go in the oven or on the stove for a few hours (like a poule au pot, or tarte); 2. something that needs fast attention in a pan or on the grill (magret de canard or cote de boeuf); and 3. a fast arrangement or process shot where colorful fruit or fresh herbs are arranged to inspire you (a rainbow handful of beets like or a beautiful cheese).

And last, we set The Table. That old oak wine vat table at Camont has been the backdrop for so many of Tim’s pictures- freshly sanded and varnished, now weathered and stained it is as much a character as any French farmer. A large white canopy shelters us from seasonal storms but is also a perfect diffuser on the bright summer days. We place all the food on the table, scatter the Not Poterie plates and bowls around, their signature yellow and green offsetting the rich dark saucy food of Gascony. Cutting boards piled with homemade charcuterie, chilled rosé in little wine glasses, assorted vintage carafes, water pitchers, flowers, cutlery, serviettes- the more, the better. We keep it real and convivial. The Table at Camont is the canvas on which we show our art.

Want to learn more? Participate in the shooting for a cookbook? Learn to tell your own Food Stories in pictures? Join Tim Clinch and I in June and October for 5 day workshops inside Gascony. Food.Photography.Workshop.