In mid-September, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the White on Rice Couple’s food photography and styling workshop. I had booked the class months prior, as soon as I got their email announcing the class date. I rushed to sign up that very same day, because their workshops often sell out since they limit the class to 12 students.
I made a mini-vacay out of the trip by spending a full day in Newport Beach, just a 15 minute drive from the photography studio in Costa Mesa. While this post isn’t about Newport Beach, I highly recommend a few activities if you make it down there. Definitely spend some time on the beach; the ocean was pretty warm when I was there, so I rented a boogie board and had some fun with the waves. I also did an evening Glow in the Dark SUP tour which was really chill and relaxing after a day in the sun. Now back to the workshop…
Todd Porter and Diane Cu, the husband and wife team behind White on Rice Couple, are simply amazing. It was so apparent from the first minute of the first day that they absolutely love what they do. They’re also gracious workshop hosts, warm and friendly, and even cooked us all an amazing breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. They just published their own cookbook, so I should have known the food would be delicious!
In two full days, we covered everything from food photography to styling to the business of photography, and even painted our own prop surfaces. For the majority of the workshop, we were free shooting, using any of the thousands of props and assortment of foods we could get our hands on. This place is truly Disneyland for food photographers. The studio is complete with a full kitchen and gets tons of natural light through the morning and afternoon. There’s a massive prop room that holds every possible dish, utensil, glass, you name it…in every color imaginable. This is just a sliver of the space.
The workshop was completely hands-on, which is really the only way to learn, IMHO. As we were shooting, Todd and Diane would walk around and offer suggestions and tips, answer questions, and even help troubleshoot camera or Lightroom issues. Our final exercise on day 2 was a “lightning round” shoot, which comprised of about 12 stations setup with different subjects and lighting. We had 30 seconds to photograph each station, before rotating to the next…the pressure was on!
So was it worth it? Absolutely. I learned more than I could distill in this single blog post, but here are a few nuggets worth sharing: