Friday, December 31, 2010

Out With 'The Old', In With 'The New'!

I've never been one much for celebrating Christmas nor New Year, especially in recent years, although I have to confess to having a memorable Christmas feast with 20+ Filippino friends in the UAE a couple of years back, but generally I no longer 'do' the festive celebrations in the same way as many. Not that I don't like to but most of my family are scattered around the globe and we never seem to be able to get together due to work commitments. This leaves me often to my own devices and that may mean that I call into a good restaurant for a meal (busman's holiday I guess).

I did exactly that the other day, when I visited Osteria, Restaurante Italiano in Mojacar. It used to be a regular when I was here in 2007 to 2008 but since returning to the area in 2009 I haven't frequented it half as much as I should. It was good in 2007, in fact one of the best in the area, but in 2010, Simon the owner, (a Dorchester Hotel, London trained chef), has 'upped his game' even further and this has to be some of the best pasta in the south of Spain. Oh, and I just happened to have my camera with me! (Do I ever go anywhere without my camera? Yes frequently, and sometimes to my regret). Certainly if you are looking for somewhere with real table clothes, quality wines, and great Italian food then Osteria is just the sanctury that you need to visit. And, I would mention - this is not a pizzeria - sure Simon will throw a pizza together if you twist his arm behind his back, but you primarily go to Osteria to sample good wholesome Italian food by way of pasta dishes, amongst others.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Tapas Trail Continues

Regardless of the fact that this is Christmas with New Year celebrations soon upon us, I have still been engaged in my day to day activities of discovering new and exciting foods in Almeria Province.....and there are some interesting tapas and foods being prepared here....take a look at the photo...

Wednesday sees me with important friends from Almeria, at Antonio Gazquez's Restaurante Las Eras in Tabernas. I have to say, not having seen my friends for some months, I am really looking forward to it and I know the lunch will be top class.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cold Turkey

This week, I gave myself a well earned and deserved day off to recharge my batteries. Having not had a break for 2 years and working 7 days a week I decided to ‘rest.’ No computer, no internet and no camera in tow. By 11.00 I had already failed the test. By 13.00 I had already purchased a note pad and pen in order to scribble some notes between gulps of red wine, the partaking of tapas and a great ‘queso de cabra y mermelada de tomate raf’ in my favourite tapas bar, and at 15.30 I was sitting at the beach answering emails via my iPhone….and, writing this blog. Such is today’s technology.

Let’s just face it – I’m currently a workaholic and a cyber junkie. (With no partner within the vicinity to distract me nor for whom I must be responsible, nor attentive, I guess there isn’t much else to do other than work). Even going without the computer or internet for as little as 24 hours is proving almost impossible for me, and the only feasible way is to go ‘cold turkey.’ As ‘food’ is my business and I have to eat, then it too makes it doubly difficult for me to switch off.

This me leads nicely to, “What are you going to do with the left-overs of your Christmas bird?” (I mean the turkey of course – what were you thinking?).
There are the obvious turkey curries, turkey paella or even turkey mince. I favour just plain cold turkey, (hams too, if you have any left), bubble and squeak and chutneys.
For those more creative of you, how about inventing your own new tapas, and posting it up on the Comida de Almeria Facebook page!?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who said this was a glamorous job?

It has been said by other photographers that this job is 25% photography and 75% ‘other’ things, like accounts, chasing monies and marketing etc.

This last week in particular, I’ve found that 25% is on the generous side, as the ‘other’ things to which they refer seem to take over… marketing probably accounts for 80% of my time, whether it be in the form of a magazine article or putting the magazine Comida de Almeria together. Last week proved to be a prime example of a ‘tough’ week. Apart from a number of ‘issues’ to have to encounter and overcome, 15 hours of internet ‘upload failure’ hasn’t exactly been the fun and glamorous side of the job. That said, the week is behind me and we move forward…

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Discovering more great food...

My quest to help improve food standards in Almeria Province through the magazine, and by highlighting high quality foods continues, but not in vain. A pleasant trip to Vera, (you can read about it in Comida de Almeria December issue next week), and two photoshoots of tapas in the more adventureous tapas bars of Mojacar, has resulted in some interesting dishes and images.

Also, el Mirador del Castillo in Mojacar Pueblo has re-opened and is now serving food. By the number of visitors today, the bar is a big hit with both Spaniards and foreigner's alike. Long may it continue especially during this cold winter period. The setting is stunning and the evening dusk with the orange glow of table lamps in the bar area, makes for an inviting venue for an evening drink.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winter Blues?

The wet weather, that we are so used to in the UK, has finally hit our part of southern Spain to dampen spirits and make things difficult for restaurant businesses. However, one man’s misfortune is another’s opportunity if only one can find the angle. It reminds me of the company in the USA which, during the downturn, is making a small fortune from house-clearances where those less fortunate have regrettably had to leave their properties due to financial hardship – it hardly seems fair does it?

For my part, the rain provides me with the opportunity to do more work indoors. Offline computer work particularly, and indoor food photography where possible, turning restaurants or bars into make-shift studios with little or no room to swing a cat, bemused on-looking customers, and some creativity on my part in how to get the best out of the lighting, and the limited surroundings with little or no props. With another few images on the digital card, perhaps the rains will ease.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Missing Piece…

This week has been very much like a jig-saw puzzle. You know what I mean. You can’t wait to get started, but part way through frustration creeps-in as you can’t quite get all the correct pieces inserted into the right places. Then just as you manage to break through, one piece is missing. That’s been the case for me this week. The weekend will make no difference as I generally work a seven-day week, so my week has yet to end and new doors to open. Nevertheless, highlights this week include my Almeria trip on Tuesday, the rekindling of my old website, the establishment of this blog site, and a new and exciting collaboration with another website, Unique Almeria, who are doing great things to promote Almeria Province, and to pull in visitors to the area. You can read more about Unique Almeria shortly. There is still plenty to do this month before the December issue of Comida de Almeria is published, and so I’ll crack on….have a great day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Out & About...

Yesterday found me in Almeria as a guest at La Escuela de Hostelería de Almería (The Almeria Cooking School for the hoteliers trade). It has armed me with a delightful article for Out & About in search of great food....... in next month's issue of Comida de Almeria food magazine. I am not therefore, going to spoil it all now by revealing all that occured, but rather, you will see next month when the magazine is published. In the meantime, here is a taste of what we tasted as part of our luncheon. This is

Orquidea Ocean Blue - Inspirado en el clasico coctel. (Inspired by the Classic cocktail).

P.S. Believe it or not, when you are photographing 'on the spot' like I often have to do, without back-drops, studio equipment, lights etc and you are in the middle of a really busy kitchen where 20 budding chefs are preparing lunch for over 100 people, you have to 'do what you can and use whatever or whomever is available.' The back-drop to this shot is actually a female chef! She was wearing a black chef's jacket, black apron and black trousers, and, much to everyone's amusement, was made to stand with her back to the dish to become an instant back-drop for the shot. It is not the first time I have used this technique. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Peep into December's Issue

With a monthly food magazine, Comida de Almeria, to produce, it seems like an endless period of work, work and no play. December is only a week away, and we are busy working on the next issue, and all that it entails, including a Christmas Special. As a consequence, there is little time to think, nor plan as we 'just get on with it.'

Tomorrow, I shall be found amongst a group of young chefs in Almeria, as I engage with the Instituto de Hosteleria Almeraya de Almeria. This is the major culinary learning centre for those budding new celebrity chefs of the future. No doubt it will feature in my Out & About section in December's magazine, as these events evolve during the month.

In the meantime, for those wishing to have a peep into next month's issue, just take a look through the keyhole! This is a 'taste' of things to come.
Have a fun day...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Step Further Forward...

Like a painter and decorator who works for clients, but leaves painting and decorating of his own house until last, and as a consequence it never gets done, I find myself promoting other people's businesses, but rarely doing any 'real' promotion of my own for my work. With the introduction of this blog, and also with a heavy push from my Business Manager, I took one step closer to doing self promotion by producing the 'postcard' shown in this blog article. Some will consider it strange when I tell you that only about 20% of my working time is spent behind the camera, actually taking the photos. About 5 to 10% is spent doing administration, whilst the remainder is spent, travelling, in meetings, processing images, and other computer related work, such as the food magazine, Comida de Almeria, and conducting other (mainly non-food) projects for clients, that generally pay some of my bills.

Now, it's time to change the way I work. With experience and some expertise in social media marketing, but rarely doing it for myself, it is high time that I take stock, and address the marketing of my own business in a more serious vein.

The postcard you see here (front view and reverse) are the first steps to addressing my own weaknesses, by utilising my strengths.

Of course, if you are a restaurateur or a bar owner, or any business involved in food, and you like the concept of the postcard, then I'd be happy to talk to you about what can be achieved for your business, and how best postcards (such as this above), can be used to promote your offerings. These cards are available in print form, or as e-postcards for electronic mail distribution or inclusion in a website or on Facebook.

I'd be interested to hear your views of the card - please let me know what you think, by writing your comments below. Gracias.

P.S. If you visit my Facebook page, then you can see the entire contents of the postcards.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Website - New Blog - New Times

My Business Manager tells me that it is time to do something with my website at The Image Suite. Of course, she is absolutely right in her observations, (I have been putting it off for far too long). I have, therefore, taken it upon myself to 'make some changes.'

Firstly, I've created a much needed Food Photography Blog (here), and I promise to try and keep it regularly up-dated. Secondly, I have changed the images, and those shown at The Image Suite are some of my more recent work. You can also see many of these if you log-on to my food magazine, Comida de Almeria.

What I can tell you is that I'm currently engaged in a number of food related projects, details of which will emerge as the contracts get signed-off, and/or shoots commence and/or as new publications come on stream.

Whatever your interest in food, it would be great if you could tell your friends about Comida de Almeria food magazine and sign-up for the quarterly newsletter on the Comida de Almeria website, and of course about this new blog, Food Photographer in Spain.

Finally, for those social media savvy visitors to this site, you can also follow my food photography exploits on FACEBOOK.