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Month of Marks: Focusing On and Savouring Inspiration

When it comes to being inspired, one of the things that I am most guilty of is skimming. I’m that girl in an art gallery who stops only for a moment, tilts her head to one side and moves on. I’m the reader who zooms through a book as fast as possible, pages in a blur, forgetting to enjoy the craft of each word and sentence. This is so true of food blogs too – something that is not only providing support in that I’m not the only weirdo that likes to take pictures of food as well as eating it but also the visual and practical inspiration for how to see baking as a creative process. There are a lot of amazing food blogs out there, and I have at least a ten minute peek at them every day, and, on some luxurious occasions, will sit with a cuppa for hours just browsing through the recipes. The only problem is that no matter the time I take, I find myself rushing through them, maybe stopping for a moment on a beautiful picture or quickly looking at the recipe to check its feasibility based on the fact that I-must-make-that-right-now-please-God-tell-me-I-have-all-the-ingredients-in-my-cupboard. Sometimes I will bookmark things, but more often than not I just skim, and the things that I say that I find inspirational, well, I barely let them scratch the surface of my consciousness.

So one of my dedicated practices for Month of Marks is focus, and as part of that, leaning to savour and understand – in more than a rational way – the things that I find beautiful, breathtaking, magical and inspirational.  Today I wanted to have a go at this practice by taking three images or posts from food blogs, sharing them with you and trying to put some words to why my heart beats a little faster when I see them.  (Today is purely visual, another time I will do more about writing that inspires me.) I apologise if this is really cheesy and simple, it’s just a task that I wanted to try and see if I could do…I’ve really never tried anything like this before.

Thanks to all the blogs featured for being brilliant, beautiful and inspiring. 

Confused about this Month of Marks? See my previous post and their website. 

Chocolate Salted Hazelnut Pie from What Katie Ate


I think it is hard to have any kind of initial reaction that doesn’t involve wanting to reach in to that picture, pick up the spoon and let that gorgeous chocolate slide over your palate. For me, that swirl of chocolate and cream on the edge of the plate and on the back of the spoon really aid how the pie looks so enticing and so utterly edible. Even though I know that the shot will have been well put together and time has been taken over it, there is something about the layered, crumpled, crumb-scattered, smudged nature of the shot that makes it feel so perfect. It isn’t a shot of the pie neatly arranged on a cake stand, but feels more real to how food is enjoyed. I love the layered dark napkin, the greys of the plate and the table and the use of shadows in the picture. For me, it visually conveys the silky decadence that you just know that pie is all about.

Dippy Eggs and Soldiers from Kiss My Spatula

 

For me, this series of pictures is stunning in the way the simplicity of composition compliments the simple beauty of the subject. The stark, neat cuts that stand stark against the way the varying golden brown colour blooms from the pale white edges of the slice…I can’t say I’ve ever really bothered to take much notice of toast before this picture. And then of course, the simplicity of the soldier in the egg… the simple curves of the egg in the eggcup.  There’s also something to the pinky brown eggshell cracking away to let the egg white peek out, and a single flash of bright colour in the dribble of yolk waiting to be mopped up. I guess I also like the balance of the composition with the teaspoon and the stacked soldiers on the neat linen.

On childhood wonder and clouds made of dough from Forty Sixth at Grace


There’s almost something too magical to these pictures to put properly into words. I mean, they are doughy clouds, just so perfectly breathtaking that it must be something out of a dream, or a Willy Wonka style invention. In the photo that bite-size piece of dough looks so light and springy, so inviting. I love the way the clouds stacked in the background are dusted and billowy against the subdued pinks and greys. The different textures really help to make the picture – the detailed pattern on the plate, the icing on the dough, the metal squares on the cooling tray, the fraying edges of the linen and the grain of the wood…complicated enough to be interesting but not distracting.

What I’ve learned from this:

-  I like photos that are much more rich, textured and complicated than I am currently taking. Do I want to try to learn how to get this into my own food photos? How?

-   I often overlook the simplicity of food, even toast can be beautiful. 

- The best pictures are where the composition compliments the subject matter. Sounds obvious really!

As a task, I found this quite helpful. I don’t necessarily see my comments on the pictures that helpful or useful, but the process of sitting and writing made me focus more on the pictures, to look at them for longer and to attend to the details that I might normally skip over.

So, go on, give it a go – write a short review of a couple of things that you find inspiring. You might be surprised at what you notice!

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