Jordan Hipson's SPRING Playbook + Food Photography 101

I was contacted by Jordan Hipson in November about my food photography as he was just about to film his live episode of 'How-To For the Holidays' at Lighthouz Furniture in Burnside.

'Hi Kelly - Would you loan us a few framed photos we could include on our holiday set? We could sell them on site for you! I would adore to have some of your photos in the background - they are fantastic!! Also, would you be interested in being the photographer for the cover of our Spring Playbook?'

Since that conversation began over 5 months ago, Jordan and I have messaged each other at least 100 times - and we still haven't met in person! That's all about to change though, as the Spring Playbook is released this week with a fabulous launch party happening Wednesday night.

Jordan was absolutely amazing to work with and gave me full creative control over the styling and photography for the cover. I sent him a few ideas of different food to feature and he chose Naan Bread Personal Pizzas. I thought they'd be great for spring - cute, colourful and a way to feature spring vegetables even though I was shooting in January. I made three versions - Asparagus and Pinenut with Lemon Ricotta - Pea, Pancetta and Feta - Prosciutto, Radish and Goat Cheese - and ate all three for dinner after I photographed them.

The photo background on The Playbook's cover is a piece of plywood that I painted white and then painted Robin's Egg Blue. After the blue paint was dry, I scratched it up to show the white paint underneath.

Jordan's reaction to the proofs I sent was awesome - 

'OH MY GOD. Where do you live, I am coming to kiss you!'

'So you like it then?', I asked.

In addition to the cover shot, I also contributed my photo and recipe for Rhubarb Curd,

and I wrote an article called 'Food Photography 101' featuring 5 food photography tips and tricks that I use on a regular basis. Along with each tip, I featured a little 'side note' to the accompanying photos. Below are the photos I chose for my feature along with the side notes I just mentioned. To read my full article click here.


1. Play With Your Light

Classic Lemon Bars - The highlights on the white linen in the bottom left corner were completely blown out so I propped up a piece of black foamboard, just off camera, facing the fabric, to absorb some of the light. Doing this reduced the light in the highlights and brought back some of the texture back to the fabric.



2. Don't Be Afraid To Get Closer

Cardamom Vanilla Brown Butter Spread - A tight close-up allows you to capture the essence of a simple recipe. Flecks of ground cardamom and vanilla bean, crunchy sugar crystals and the burnished hue of brown butter really stand out when you get closer.


3. Straight-On vs Overhead

I tend to photograph food with height from s straight-on perspective and food that is flat from an overhead persective. It works well for me.

Straight-On - French Sablé Cookies


Overhead - Blood Orange Marmalade


4. The Colour Wheel

I often refer to the colour wheel when I'm deciding on which props to feature in my food photography. Google 'colour wheel' for an absolute ton of information if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Gluten-Free Blood Orange Coconut Cake - The warm pinks and oranges of this photograph are all closely related on the colour wheel.


Six-Minute Microwave Lemon Curd - the deep blue in the background fabric is the opposite to bright sunny yellow on the colour wheel.


5. The Camera Doesn't Always See What You See And That's Ok

Juniper Berries - My personal policy is to capture as much quality as possible in-camera and keep editing at a minimum, however, I refuse to feel guilty about processing images when things don't quite look the way I want. I believe that honing my post-processing skills is necessary both to my creative vision and my business.


You can read the full issue of Jordan's Playbook here - http://issuu.com/jordanhipson/docs/playbook/1?e=11279994/7218636

For more information visit www.jordanhipson.com or @jordansplaybook.

Rhubarb Curd Pudding Cups

 I owe my love of lemon curd to Aimée White - Food Je t'Aimée. It was during a tea party at her house that I had my first encounter with this gorgeous tart and creamy spread.

It's been an ongoing love affair and since that afternoon, I've played with recipes for lemon, lime and Clementine curds. Walking through the farmer's market the other day, I noticed that Noggins had lush bunches of fresh pink and green spring rhubarb. After the obligatory rhubarb crisp for Sean, my thoughts turned toward curd and I thought, why not?

Totally winging it, as I normally do, I used my favourite lemon curd recipe and just substituted a pound of washed, chopped rhubarb for the lemon juice and zest. I thought about straining out the chunks of rhubarb but in the end said screw it and decided to leave them in for flavour and texture.

Oh my.

You want to make this. Trust me.

I made this Vanilla Pudding Recipe from CHOW.com and layered it in cups with the rhubarb curd and a sweet little Amaretti cookie on top.

Rhubarb Curd

1 pound (454g) fresh rhubarb, washed, chopped (use as many bright pink pieces as possible including the parts around the bottom of the stalks)

1 Tbsp water

1 C sugar

4 egg yolks

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/2 C butter

- combine rhubarb, water and 1/2 C sugar in a pot - cook on medium-low heat until rhubarb is very soft, about 14 minutes - smoosh all pieces with the back of a rubber spatula or mash with a potato masher

- whisk egg yolks, kosher salt and remaining 1/2 C sugar - scoop out about 1/2 to 1 Cup hot rhubarb and whisk it into the egg yolk mixture a little bit at a time to temper the yolks and then add everything back to the pot with the remaining hot rhubarb - whisk together

- add butter and cook over med-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy

- dish into clean Mason jars or other airtight storage containers

*I usually halve this recipe and it makes two 250mL Mason jars full of curd

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Vanilla-scented Pear, Mint, Brie and Pecan Crostini

Just LOOK at these glorious little morsels. Almost too pretty to eat. (almost!!)

My sister got married at our dad's house this past Sunday and honestly, the wedding couldn't have been any more perfect. I was busy helping my parent's host and so I asked my friend Stephanie to do the photos, however, near the end, I couldn't resist grabbing my camera. I got some fantastic shots of my sister Cindy and her new husband Matt but I can't post them just yet because I'd like her to see them first. Instead, I'm posting this shot I got of one of the beautiful board of crostini. (Crostini means 'toasted bread' in Italian - we didn't toast our bread but we still use the word Crostini)

Sean, along with the help from our super-fantastic friend Meaghanne prepared all of the food for the wedding. The idea for these little beauties is borrowed from our friends Nora and Peter Hiscott who own Divine Dishes - a Halifax, Nova Scotia based catering company. Their food is so amazing!! Sean used their idea and put a little spin on it*:

Here's what you'll need to make these perfect little bites - they won't last long so make lots!!

Vanilla-scented Pear, Mint, Brie and Pecan Crostini

2 Bosc Pears, 0.5 Cup Sugar, 0.25 C Water, 1 Vanilla Bean (scraped + pod)

~ Peel and cut pears into thin slices - bring sugar and water to light boil - add vanilla beans and pods - add pears - simmer until pears are translucently soft - reserve liquid

~Slice a fresh baguette - you can toast or not, it's up to you - drizzle sliced bread with reserved vanilla-pear juice - top bread with a mint leaf, a couple of pieces of pear, a small piece of Brie and a pecan* - drizzle more pear juice on top if you like

*These crostini are one of Divine Dishes signature items - they drizzle with honey instead of vanilla-pear juice and they use walnuts on top instead of pecans

**You could toast the pecans which would bring out another layer of flavour that would be spectacular - just throw them on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or, until you can smell the nutty toastiness in your kitchen

Simple, fresh - perfect for spring!!