My Christmas gift was a bit delayed this year but oh so worth the wait. The sweetest husband on earth (mine) secretly arranged to give me a day with Matthew Mead! Is this a thing? Can one actually arrange to have their favorite photographer show up at their home and spend the day teaching a photography and styling session? I’m here to tell you that it’s a thing and it happened to me and I will love my husband forever and ever. (side note: that was already a given)
We started the day talking about what I wanted to accomplish. I have a brand new Nikon camera that quite frankly scared me
a lot a bit, so I’ve reverted to my iPhone 6 for quick photos and simplification when taking product shots. We pulled together a sampling of Nelley Kelley products that I wanted to capture and took my new camera for a ride on its tripod. At first I felt a bit clumsy but soon I began to understand a little more about F-stops, Exposures and the importance of soft lighting. Before I knew it, I had some pretty sweet pictures of my art.
Once I got more comfortable Matthew suggested that I take the time to see the beauty in the details. It is one of his gifts to take what seems to be ordinary and turn it into extraordinary. It is all in the way you look at things. I went around my house and photographed little slivers of objects – it was eye-opening to say the least.
There was so much good information flowing that it was hard to take it all in. We decided to break for lunch and let me tell you that is where the magic happened. Matthew commandeered our kitchen and began to not only make lunch but serve it up in some of his most beautiful pottery. Even lunch became a lesson in beauty, food styling and how to capture it in a photograph. Every once in awhile I had to remember that this was just a normal Thursday and I just happened to have Matthew Mead preparing lunch for me in my kitchen. Does this even happen?
Matthew made an amazing garlic and red pepper shrimp with grilled green-beans over crumbled almond cous-cous. There was a little bacon tomato jam served on the side in one of Matthew’s famous Shaker-inspired jelly glasses. Before we could sit down and tuck into the food, there was a lesson on food styling and food photography taught by non other than the Associated Press food photographer himself. Still pinching myself as I write this.
To fortify us for the second half of the day, Matthew brought along a chocolate tart topped with crumbles of dark chocolate (because you can never have too much chocolate) and we washed it down with lattes made by my barista husband, Bill (aka, the greatest husband in the world) along with a lovely fruit tea mixed with a splash of sparkling apple cider. Again there is always room for learning more so we photographed what we ate and drank and talked about styling food for photographs. We sat in our garden room the three of us and just enjoyed eating and drinking right from the pages of a book.
Back to work we went and tried to make beautiful the mundane – like the vintage tools and paint splattered bobbins that I use in my artwork. A torn letter and a wooden bowl filled with my found flotsam and jetsam became still life art through the lens of my camera.
We talked about a shared passion of interiors and styling. I’ve long admired Matthew’s keen eye for design and to talk about this with the master himself was thrilling. We walked around my home and picked a few areas to photograph. I learned a few styling tricks of the trade to make an interiors photo appealing. Sometimes a beautiful vignette in your home can look inspiring in person and less so in a photograph. It can be as simple as moving a piece off the wall and into your room to create depth and shadow in the photo.
It was a whirlwind day of creative energy. Probably the best present I’ve ever been given and I am forever grateful to my husband for picking up the phone and calling Matthew to ask if he would do this for me and to Matthew for saying yes. There was such a free-flowing exchange of ideas and knowledge shared that was amazing – there is so much more to learn but I’m no longer afraid of that camera instead I’m looking forward to setting up the tripod and finding the best light of the day.
Did I mention that I love my husband?