William Reavell Food Photography Course & A Date with Supergolden Bakes!

Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect

I apologise in advance, this turned into a humongous blog post, so I wont be mad if you stop reading before the end and just look at the pictures!

I’ll start by saying that I’m really no photographer. Before I started blogging, I only used a camera for taking pictures of holidays and nights out, both usually involving pictures I wanted to forget! Then when camera phones became a thing, I started taking more pictures, but I really wasn’t concentrating on composition, lighting etc. It was very much point and shoot.

Then I began writing a blog, pictures as well as text are a pretty fundamental part of blogging. At first I really didn’t even think about the pictures I was taking, for me it was about the baking and the words.

This is perfectly demonstrated in this unappetising shot from one of my first blog posts. In case you wondered, it is possible to get too close to the food!

Gateau Basque | Patisserie Makes Perfect

Undeterred, I tried to spice things up a bit by photographing my ingredients. Perhaps using all white ingredients in white bowls, shot under fluorescent light wasn’t one of my best ideas, I’m still not entirely sure what all the different powders were…

Meringues Chantilly | Patisserie Makes Perfect

I found myself making recipes with advanced techniques that I was truly proud of, but my photographs weren’t doing them justice. Fast-forward a few months (more like a year), and I started to put more effort in, buying props from charity shops in the form of plates, cutlery and getting hold of mountboard for backgrounds.

There was a gradual improvement and I  began to draw inspiration from other blogs and Pinterest. I was becoming happier with how my photos were starting to look and I found myself shooting everything from my iPhone, as the camera was so much better than my own compact camera.

This now leads me on to the reason for this post, in April the very lovely Lucy from Supergolden Bakes asked if I would like to attend a Level 2 Food Photography Course in July hosted by renowned food photographer William Reavell. Of course I wanted to go! Not just because it was a great opportunity, but also because I wanted to meet Lucy. This left me with a dilemma, I needed a DSLR to attend the course, so I took the plunge and with advice and assistance from my boyfriend we settled on the Fuji X-T1.

Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect

Initially I was terrified of using the camera, there were different lens to use, things like aperture, ISO, shutter speed and depth of field to think about. So I panicked and left the camera in the box and continued to use my iPhone.

After a bit of time, I decided to practice with the camera, I was getting annoyed with the limitations of my iPhone and not being able to get my images on sites like foodgawker. It was the best thing I ever did and posts like my Marmite Macarons and others from May and June this year were starting to look much more appealing.

Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect

Last Saturday was the day of the course and I had a magnificent time. There were three of us in total on the course, which was hosted by William, with food styling by Tara Jasmin Sura. The day began with coffee and pastries while discussing our own photographic experience, our cameras and what we hoped to get out of the day. Then William and Tara went through the set-up of a scene to photograph. The first dish was a fish curry. Backgrounds were chosen based on colours that would compliment the dish, bowls and plates without too much of a glaze, or too much shine were selected.

It was interesting to note that William liked to use textured or handmade paper to provide the backdrop for his images, you can get this from most good art shops and it adds a real depth of colour and texture to the finished pictures as you can see in the image above.

We were supplied with a raft of information, how to add light and where to take it away using cards and boards. How to stand when taking a shot, how to hold you camera and how close to get  – this was all of particular interest to me as I was basically, standing too far away and holding my camera landscape for all shots, which can lead to very dull photos.

Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect

After photographing the curry which was prepared and styled by Tara, we got to eat it. I’d been so engrossed in the photography I forgot how hungry I was, it tasted amazing! After staring at it for hours, with Tara refreshing the coriander, trying various bowls and suggesting different positions and ingredients for props, I was ready to tuck in.

We didn’t get to rest for long though, cheesecake was next. Like the curry, we set-up our own backdrops and practised capturing the image whilst pouring sauce and dealing with a much lighter subject matter.

Here’s a shot of Lucy preparing to photograph the cheesecake and William and Tara in action:

Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect

Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect

I took a few shots myself of the cheesecake and a lovely scene of the jug and some fruit that was styled by Lucy.

Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect

This was a fantastic day and I learnt so much from William and Tara, if you want to improve your food photography, for your blog, a personal project or work, I really recommend this course. We covered everything from styling and taking the shots, through to post-processing in Lightroom. I felt so inspired by the course, I have since been collecting and buying props like a mad woman! I’ve even got out my camera and practised photographing ingredients in the hope I won’t forget everything I learnt.
Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect

You can follow both William and Tara on Twitter, as well as Food Photography Training on Facebook and their respective websites Fork and Dram and William Reavell.

Thanks so much to Lucy for inviting me on this course, I had a brilliant day, learnt so much and got to make a new friend, I can’t wait to meet up again. You can read all about Lucy’s experience on the course and see how beautifully she styled her shots.

Finally, the post wouldn’t be complete without a mention for the lovely Ruby, who was very patient with us all day.

Food Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes PerfectFood Photography Level 2 William Reavell | Patisserie Makes Perfect

Thanks for reading.



I was invited on the Level 2 Food Photography Course by William Reavell for free by Lucy from www.supergoldenbakes.com. All views are my own and I did not receive any payment for writing this review.

19 Responses

  1. Jodie Dodd

    I can’t tell you how much I love this post and how jealous I am! Photography is a love of mine and you can never learn too much! Your photography has come such a long way and so many people can learn just by looking at your photos and trying to re-create what you’ve done! It’s funny how much more appetizing the food looks when paired with the right colors and textures.

    My oldest daughter bought a DSLR for her trip to Spain and I’ve taken it over! I love taking pictures of my younger daughter’s soccer matches. I miss the games since I’m so busy looking for the next shot! 😀 I spend all of my days in Photoshop (I just added steam to a cup of coffee I was working on), so I know Lightroom had to be a blast!

    And Ruby is just so adorable! She looks like she’s very patiently waiting for any bit of that food to drop. 😀 xx

    • PatisserieMakesPerfect

      Jodie, this is amazing, I had no idea you are such a Photoshop Whizz! I have a subscription to both, so I shall definitely be picking your brain!

      I would love to see some of your pictures! I had an amazing day and learnt so much, I’ve already seen a massive improvement in my photography.

      Ruby was a highlight in an already wonderful day. You’re so right about complementary colours etc.

      • Jodie Dodd

        Pick away my dear! I was adding some steam to a cup of coffee on a poster I was creating the other day. Right up your alley! 😀

  2. Jen @ Jen's Food

    Looks like you both had a fantastic time at this course. Like you I’ve gradually been learning more about how to use my camera mainly from doing an online course and experimenting. I finally feel happy shooting in manual but styling is the next thing I need to start putting more effort into. Thanks for sharing some of the tips you learned from the course.

    PS. I love that final photo where Ruby is trying to join in, so cute!

    • PatisserieMakesPerfect

      It was amazing Jen. I learnt so much, it’s really helped with my photographs. I find myself planning how I’m going to shoot things as I’m making them. I’ve found it really useful.

      Ruby was lovely, she really added to the experience! I’m glad you found some of the tips useful. x

  3. Lucy - BakingQueen74

    I read it all! The course looks amazing, I bet there was so much to learn. I use a DSLR at times but sometimes just use the iPad when I don’t have much time on hand. Would love to learn about food styling and how to use boards as a backdrop. I think your photos, and creations, are great, well done on learning so many new things.

    • PatisserieMakesPerfect

      oh well done Lucy on reading it all! I know what you mean about not having much time. There’s a few occasions where I haven’t been that happy with my shots, but I’ve not had much time and I’ve just had to go with it.

      Thanks so much for all of the positive comments, it’s really nice to see an improvement in my pictures too. The boards aren’t too difficult, you just get them from art shops and prop them up, it’s a balancing act! Literally. x

  4. Mother Mands

    Love the photos! Sounds like a great course and something I need myself. I have a DSLR but don’t really understand a lot of the settings and stick to the same formula when taking photos. I definitely need some decent crockery, my boring old chipped stuff is just not cutting it 🙂
    Really good post and I read it all! 😉

    • PatisserieMakesPerfect

      I can recommend a pretty good book for de-mystifying your camera, I read this and it was really useful, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Read-This-Want-Great-Photographs/ take a look and see what you think. It’s not food photography specific, but it understands the basic principles of using your camera.

      Get to the charity shops or the summer sales for some new crockery, there’s some great bargains to be had.

      Well done on reading the whole post! Hope you didn’t need a sugar boost half-way through 😉

      Angela x

  5. Angela Entwistle

    This sounds like it was invaluable – though your pictures always look good.
    My brother very kindly bought me a camera a couple of wks ago and although it not a DSLR, it’s still a million times better than the old camera phone I was struggling with. I’m now in the process of trying to understand different things like aperture etc!
    I’d never even though of using textured craft paper in my shots – I’ve got some somewhere in the house so I’ll certainly give that a whirl.
    And charity shops! Each week when Mr E & I pop into our local town we have a look in the charity shops for random pretty plates etc! They so much cheaper and far more interesting than buying new crockery for staging.
    Angela x

    • PatisserieMakesPerfect

      Aww thank Angela, but as I’ve shown from some of my earlier photos, I’ve had some real shockers!

      I love charity shops, I’ve found some amazing things in them. One off plates that I use to spice up pictures etc. I guess look through magazines and pinterest (I’m a bit addicted) for images you like and see how you can try and replicate them.

      Setting up a nice scene, makes the photographing even easier.

      Angela x

  6. Beeta @ Mon Petit Four

    You’re so right, Angela; photography tends to be everything when it comes to a great food blog. I always love your photos and your work. That’s so neat you got to take a class. Like you, I’m always looking for ways to learn and improve my photography. It’s all a learning process and takes practice, but it seems like you’ve gotten the hang of it and know what you’re doing! 🙂 P.S. I don’t blame you for being so hungry…look at those delectable foods!!

    • PatisserieMakesPerfect

      I would say I’m ‘getting’ the hang of it, still a long way to go – but thank you for your kind words.

      You’re so right, it is all about practice and this course was just brilliant, there were so many things I was doing wrong that seemed so obvious once you’ve been shown!

      Thanks for commenting Beeta, I love your blog also!

  7. Aimee wallflowergirl.co.uk

    Wow, I’d love to attend this course! Gorgeous styling and photography 🙂

    • PatisserieMakesPerfect

      It was so good Aimee. I had no idea how to style a shot before. I am still very much learning, but I find myself starting to think about how I’m going to photograph things before I’ve even made it! A tad obsessive I know!

  8. Hannah Hossack-Lodge

    Wow, it sounds like a really fun and helpful experience and you got some beautiful shots! I recently upgraded to a DSLR and am currently getting to grips with it, it is so much better than the point and shoot I was using previously! I am in desperate need of some new backdrops and props though…I really like the idea of using textured paper, though they wouldn’t last longer than a couple of shoots with me, I’m a tad messy… Also, how fun that you actually got to meet up!

    • PatisserieMakesPerfect

      I found using a ‘proper’ camera really annoying at first, but after a bit of use, you can do so much more and make your pictures look so much more appealing.

      I am a bit messy too, I touch and move the food and then remember I have to wipe my hands etc.

      I need to get some more interesting fabrics though, I’ll be searching ebay for swatches I think!

      Yes meeting up was definitely a huge perk.

  9. Lucy Parissi

    It was such a wonderful day, wasn’t it? I loved meeting you finally and getting to be hands on with the food and the props and William’s one-to-one guidance was invaluable.
    Since the course I must admit to spending a lot of money in Paperchase, B&Q and Amazon for props and backgrounds… but I think I can already see an improvement in my photography. I had quite a few bad habits where post production is concerned!
    I love your curry photos – your camera actually has a really good lens – and I really can’t wait to see how your photography develops! Remember, shoot vertical ; ) Hope we can have a proper catch up soon… I must come visit, if only to taste your amazing creations.

    • PatisserieMakesPerfect

      It was brilliant, small class sizes and so much energy and attention from William made it perfect.

      I’ve been buying so many things, I’ve done some shots for my next couple of blog posts, practically everything in my photos is new! Eep!

      My pictures are really improving already and I am now shooting vertically! Yes the 35mm on my camera is really good, I’m really pleased with it.

      A good catch-up would be great and you’re always welcome in Oxford!

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