The Little Loaf: Homemade Memories cookbook photoshoot (behind the scenes)

27 Comments on The Little Loaf: Homemade Memories cookbook photoshoot (behind the scenes)

Blueberry, almond and plum crumble

While I don’t have a new recipe for you this week, what I do have is a little insight into what I’ve been up to during my absence from this space. Last week we spent four days shooting the first set of photographs for The Little Loaf: Homemade Memories (my first cookbook (!), coming out next year). With four photoshoot days down and six to go, I’m by no means any kind of expert, but am learning a lot, fast, so I thought it would be fun to share a few photos, insights, observations and general excitement about the whole process.

Jaffa cakes photoshoot

Unlike photography for the blog, which tends to involves placing some food on my kitchen table and pointing my (not especially fancy) camera at it, a cookbook photshoot requires a LOT of advance planning. It all began several months ago when my agent and I asked my publisher if Helen Cathcart could be the photographer – I’d seen her pictures in a couple of places including Paris Pastry Club and fallen in love with her use of light and ability to capture both the deliciousness and beauty of food.  Once Helen was on board, my publisher also booked in a prop stylist to source all the lovely backgrounds, linens, plates and trinkets that give individual character to a book and make photos taken in a basic studio look and feel like home. I couldn’t be happier with their choice of Linda Berlin and when she started unwrapping props on Monday morning I felt like a child on Christmas Day.

more props for photoshoot

In the weeks running up to the shoot I met with my publisher, Helen and Linda to discuss ideas and schedules. I made a Pinterest board then put together mood boards and a day-by-day schedule of what we planned to shoot. Cooking and photographing up to 10 recipes a day requires not only a lot of advance planning but several pairs of hands – not least to cover the mountains of washing up (seriously, if you ever think about writing a cookbook, be warned that the process is at least 50% washing up). I was lucky enough to have the help of home economist and food writer Henrietta Clancy who kept her cool as we battled with a faulty oven dial (incinerated eclairs on Day 1) and a too-warm freezer (ice cream soup) and who also cooked the most amazing scrambled eggs one lunchtime when Helen and I had addled our brains decanting drinks between wine glasses and tumblers for the fifth time in an attempt to achieve the perfect composition.

Photographing chocolate mousse

The shoot taught me that, much as I love taking photos for the blog, I’ll never be a professional photographer. I’ve learned a huge amount about lighting and styling and use of props but it takes some serious skill and patience to get the perfect photo and Helen and her lovely assistant River had an ability to see tiny faults in apparently flawless images, shooting and reshooting long after I thought we had a book-worthy image for any given recipe. Having the camera linked up to Helen’s computer meant we could instantly see shots on screen, adding the crop for each book page and seeing how the collections of images for each chapter were coming together. It’s a world away from my everyday point and click approach and the results speak for themselves. I’m SO excited for you to see it.

Homemade hobnobs photoshoot

A note on shopping . . . The list I wrote the week before the shoot involved things like ‘3 kilos of butter’, ‘4 kilos of sugar’ and ’50 eggs’. The checkout assistant at Waitrose commented that I ‘must be making a very large cake’ and we had to eat out the night before the shoot because there wasn’t room for regular food in our tiny fridge in amongst all the packets of butter and cartons of cream. The amount of food we made was slightly mad – 8+ recipes per day – meaning everyone left each day with little doggy bags for family, friends, neighbours and anyone who would take it off our hands. If anyone’s in the Acton area next week and fancies some edible freebies, let me know- otherwise I’m thinking we need to start a bring and buy sale . . .

peanut butter jammy dodgers

These pictures are just a little sneak peak into the process – I’m not allowed to post any finished images yet (and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise anyway). Suffice to say there will be around 90 full colour photos of everything from homemade Jaffa Cakes and Hobnobs to delicious doughnuts, scones, cakes (including my take on Colin the Caterpillar), ice cream, sweets, chocolate, drinks, bread and more. It’s exhausting just thinking about it and also slightly scary but in the best possible way.

lemon curd

Homemade Memories doesn’t hit the shops until June 2015, but it’s already available for pre-order (squeak!), so if you’re the kind of person who likes to plan in advance, you can head on over and reserve your copy ten months before publication (Mum, Dad and other doting relatives, take note). I’m hoping to post a quick round up from the second photoshoot in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, do pop on to Instagram where I’ll be posting more pics, or follow the lovely @helencathcart who manages to make exactly the same shots look infinitely more beautiful. Kate XXX

props for photoshoot

caterpillar cake

eton mess

caramelized white chocolate


27 RESPONSES TO The Little Loaf: Homemade Memories cookbook photoshoot (behind the scenes)

  1. Hello Colin!

    Kate, I absolutely loved this post and it is a really, really fascinating peek behind what is to come, and the whole process. Rather excited for the book now!

  2. I’m loving following your photo shoots on instagram – the pictures and the recipes look stunning already, I can’t wait to see them all finished in your book 🙂

    • thelittleloaf -

      Thanks Jennie – I can’t wait for the finished book either!

  3. Amy -

    Oh gosh, that sounds both amazing and exhausting all at once (aren’t all the best things?). Very excited to see the finished product!

  4. This is very exciting & already it looks like it is going to be a delicious read. Great post!
    H x

  5. Oh my goodness I am so happy for you and it all looks so exciting! It must be so nice to finally see all your hard work playing out! Love posts like this, I am so nosey and these insights really are eye opening! L x

  6. Ella -

    I would buy your cookbook based on Colin the Caterpillar alone! What a fabulous idea, and beautiful photos – very exciting!

    • thelittleloaf -

      Haha, got to love Colin the Caterpillar!

  7. Congratulations on your cookbook! It sounds super interesting to go through the whole photo shoot process. Also, homemade jaffa cakes? YES PLEASE RIGHT NOW. 🙂

  8. What a wonderful behind the scenes look into the making of your book! It must be so exciting. I can see it is a lot of work, but will be so rewarding in the end. The images look truly beautiful and very fitting for your recipes. I can’t wait to get my hands on the finished product!

    • thelittleloaf -

      Thanks Jennifer. So so excited for you to see the finished book 🙂

  9. This is so exciting- I can’t wait to see the finished result! I loved reading this post as that is my kind of dream job styling and photographing projects such as yours- I find it fascinating how the professionals manage to compose each photograph so perfectly!! xx

    • thelittleloaf -

      I still can’t believe people do this as their permanent job – it’s the best!

  10. Absolutely incredible to see a dream come true! Can’t wait to see the end result!

  11. Can’t wait to see the finished piece. Looks fab already. Totally jealous of all of that gorgeous cutlery and crockery, swoon! I have such a limited collection of stuff, and all my wooden backgrounds went mouldy in our cellar so had to chuck them out.

  12. Oh gosh, what fun little peeks! I hope you’re having just as much fun this week. This has made me even more excited for the book (and I didn’t know that was possible!)

    • thelittleloaf -

      Gah, I’m so excited too – cannot wait for you to see it! x

  13. Homemade Jaffa cakes? I’m sold! Massive congrats on the cookbook, how exciting!

  14. Wow, I can’t wait to see how her photos turn out… I’m so excited for your cookbook! And I really wish I was your neighbor because I’d be happy to help with some of those extras:-)

  15. What a great, inspiring post! It’s always nice to see some behind the scenes pics and hear ones thoughts about the process, not just the end product. So thanks for sharing, Kate. Oh and your book title ‘Homemade Memories’ might just be one of the loveliest cookbook titles ever.

  16. Nicole B. -

    It’s so cool hearing about the behind the scenes process. Thanks for sharing with us. I bet everyone on the set loved working with you – all that delicious food!

  17. I can’t wait for this book to come out! I got to watch Helen work (and tackle some of the mountain of washing up) on a cookbook last month and it was absolutely fascinating. I loved this recounting of the process.

  18. Oh my! I’m so excited for you! It looks like you put together an amazing team and that the photos and styling are simply gorgeous! And I cannot believe you have 10 days of shooting! That’s a lot of pix.
    Is your book going to be for sale in the US too? Cannot wait!!!

  19. Monet -

    What a wonderful behind the scenes view! I can’t wait to see the book!

  20. What an exciting adventure you have embarked on! Fascinating

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