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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

#FotoDubai15 was our best workshop so far!

#FotoDubai15 Hands-on Practice


Despite working on a few great events each year, the food styling & photography workshop that my friend (German Food Photographer) Meeta K Wolff and I hold here in Dubai remains one of my favourites. I love creativity, creative projects and creative people and this event is always loaded with all these. Photography, despite being a whole science, it is also a whole lot of art. Each person has a different eye, their unique style and perspective. Each one has a story to tell and it is always such pleasure to read people's stories through the frames they create and this workshop allows everyone involved to enrich and be enriched by the whole experience of interaction and sharing. Not only is this limited to ourselves and participants but it also extends to our sponsors. SCAFA students for instance had been keen on participating for the second year now and for whom we dedicate a separate day altogether bespoke to their unique requirement as upcoming chefs and industry professionals. When the air is charged with such creative energy, you cannot begin to imagine the drive you feel the connection you share with those around you and that is exactly how I feel each year and why this workshop remains one of my favourite creative events.

Despite being a short 2 days workshop, the two days are packed with activities, theory sessions, hands-on practice and assignments. The two days are intensive, however, the participants enjoy them and learn so much, they always emerge on the other side saying they cannot believe in two days their skill as well as their creativity had improved so much. You see, while this workshop is definitely a specialised food styling and photography course, but it also includes sections that deal utterly with what I like to refer to as "creation". From concept creation, to story lines and identifying niches and market needs to even approaching the food with a fresh perspective (what I refer to as "creative narrative/content"), this is where I come in and explore with participants how to unleash their creative energy and how to free their thoughts and find their individual space within the over-loaded sphere of contents. The resulting discussions and seeing how each individual takes these instructions and runs with it is the most exhilarating experience. I find tremendous inspiration myself throughout the whole process.

Watch the video below and see clips from #FotoDubai15. So much fun, creativity and inspiration for everyone!


#FotoDubai15 was a great workshop, from our partners and sponsors, to participants and even activities everything fell into place beautifully. I love how every year the creativity rubs on everyone involved and our sponsors get creative and help us further enrich the whole experience.

This year our permanent partner and sponsor Chef Russell Impiazzi, the culinary director of Lafayette Gourmet, had gone above and beyond with his 'wild foods' themed finale dinner. He turned a whole table into a beautiful garden of wild foods including the morning or evening mist (as you can see in the video above)! The food was gorgeous as you can see, and it was absolutely decadent. I especially loved the rabbit and the oxtail ones they were to die for! I can taste them as I type this! (Lafayette Gourmet do fantastic catering of private parties make sure to order these two options, they really are succulent!) And chef Russell did not stop there, he even created another landscape of what I saw as the "after-party scene" of a selection of desserts that were so mouthwatering and fantastic! He really did help us throw a memorable dinner to celebrate the end of the workshop ending the two days on such a high note and with a dinner that became the talk of the whole town!

Also this year, Riath Hamed, the owner of Balqees Honey provided a huge selection of their honeys for us to use for the "best product shot" competition among our participants. Each one of the participants - as you saw in the video above - styled and shot a product shot featuring Balqees raw honey, and during the finale dinner Riath viewed the pictures and chose the two best shots and awarded the photographers a Balqees honey prize! All participants went home with a container of Balqees Honey.



Yael Mejia, the brand consultant to Baker & Spice Dubai, besides being a very good and hugely supportive friend of mine, had as you can see in the video catered a full brunch on the first day of the workshop that happily fed all of us with organic, wholesome, absolutely amazing selection of food (home-made labneh, yogurt and granola, fruit salads, jams, mutabal, Shakshooka selection and a to die for selection of breads, including my favourite Kaek Bisimsem, croissants and danish...) This brunch and the food provided by Baker and Spice was amazing to use in the shots and for participants practice. You know we don't waste food during the workshop, we practice on the food we eat and as such the Baker and spice food were absolutely gorgeous to shoot and such pleasure to eat! All participants went home with a Baker & Spice goodie bag containing some of their fantastic snacks to munch on as they practice their new skills.
( I also placed my DS Organic Mooneh Essentials: olive oil, zaatar sampler, spice mix, and 3 different jars of pickles for them to take home as my jars fit best at the Baker & Spice bags next to like-hearted foods!) Speaking of snacking, throughout the workshop the participants were munching on the fruit platters so generously provided by our amazing friend, Tony Colley, GM Lootah Premium Foods. You know when your mind is racing you feel hungry and you need to munch and what better option is there than munching on superior quality fruits! And when the day was over and we were so tired and hungry, Retro Feasts Dubai were gems! They fully booked their restaurant at The Beach solely for us to feast on their fantastic food and to use as a photography studio! Who does that? Trust me not many, and while most don't care for the community of foodies around them, the amazing people at Retro Feasts are supporters of creativity and the Foodie community, so much that they did all this for us and allowed us to carry out our restaurant assignment so gorgeously. Their restaurant is so visually interesting it really made all the difference. I had shot a video with Polly there and will share it as soon as I get a minute, and you will then see how great that place is. In the meantime, do drop by their waterfront restaurant in JBR. Such amazing view of the open sea, perfect for sunset and lunch when at the beach ;)

As you can also see in the video, without the gorgeous props provided by Ronai LLC, who really gave us so many to work with, making the options unlimited for participants and allowing them to experiment with different sets and moods, we hugely appreciate their support and are very happy they have joined our workshop's small community of partners and sponsors. So are we about the very nice gesture from ELEKTA Gulf who allowed us to add an element of surprise to our finale dinner, where we got to raffle 3 professional windows tablets that 3 lucky winners took home that night! How cool are they?

And of course, all this would not have been possible had we not been so generously hosted at SCAFA School of Culinary And Finishing Arts, who have for the second year now opened their doors for us and granted us access to all their facilities, state of the art equipment and amazing kitchens. Honestly there is no place like SCAFA for hosting such an activity-packed workshop where photographers, chefs, instructors, students and staff will all be running around all day long, each doing their thing!

Thank you all so much.


I will leave you with a few pictures, and will post some more pics on my facebook page at some point. For now, enjoy these and stay tuned for my next event: 
The Italian Cuisine World Summit!!!(#ICWS15) 
YAY!
So much is happening at #ICWS15 and you guys really don't wonna miss out! Coming up next....


Vegetarian Option from 'Lunch by Dima Sharif' menu for #FotoDubai15
Roasted Root Vegetables in Safflower Sauce

Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables in Safflower Sauce
from 'Lunch by Dima Sharif' menu for #FotoDubai15

Freekeh Salad in Palestinian Shatta Dressing
from 'Lunch by Dima Sharif' menu for #FotoDubai15

Hands-on cooking class #FotoDubai15

Meeta and I Feeling loved and very grateful!






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