National Geographic Food UK: Behind the scenes, The first ever cover.

Well I’ve had some pretty lovely shoots in the past, but to be trusted with shooting the very first ever cover for National Geographic Food was a huge responsibility. The theme for the first ever cover was to be chocolate. Denise Smart, my friend and trusty food stylist was up to the challenge. We had shot a whole campaign of chocolate for an Israeli food company and this was a development of the look of these shots plus an earlier composition we had shot about 5 years ago. It was to be much more complex however as we wanted the chocolate to radiate enormous energy through the movement of the chocolate. It is always difficult to define a look creatively when you have a completely blank canvas style wise, but this compounded with the context of National Geographic meant it was all or nothing. APL media are the publishers and we had had several chats naturally, taking additional and important inspiration from tear sheets and Pintrest boards the team had put together.

 

So the date was  set, chocolate ordered (20 kilos!) and we starting breaking the chocolate and creating these monstrous towers.  By the time we had lit the chocolate and set the first tower up, 4 hours had passed and we were ready to the pour the chocolate. Gravity, however got the better of us as we made a total hash of the first one.

We were shooting on a Nikon D5, shooting with Profoto flash, at 9 frames per seconds to freeze the action…. amazing shapes but not quite the iconic look we were trying to achieve!!! Back to the blocks. As the lighting is so critical in creating these textures we went back to the drawing board and started working out a methodology which would mean we couldn’t fail.

So we started pouring in stages and then went for it with an upside down squeezy bottle and lovely warm chocolate. It obviously went all over the place but patience and persistence meant we got to create what we hope is a nice shot for the first cover.

 

A little bit of comp-ing, here and there and we had got it…

Thanks to the team, Francesca for assisting, Danny for re-touching, Denise for the food and Chris and Lauren from APL steering the way… These shoots are always collaborative so big thanks to everyone involved.

And here of course is the finished shot.

 

The wonderful after effects!It’s enough to put anyone off chocolate for life!… well maybe for a week….