Food Photography & Styling | July Assignment BBQ/Grilling | Longboat Key & Bradenton Food Photographer

It’s our July food photography and styling challenge – already!  I can’t believe half the year has already gone by.  Back in January, I was fortunate to stumble upon a group of ladies that were forming a group with the purpose of improving their food photography and styling skills and it’s been a wonderful journey so far.  Everybody brings something different to the group which we all learn and benefit from.

This month’s challenge is to style and photograph a BBQ dish (or grilled).  Did I mention that I don’t even own an outdoor grill?  Or that I’m not a fan of BBQ in general?  Now I know how the group participants last month who didn’t like fish felt!  To not own a grill seems almost unAmerican I guess.  Sure, we had one, but the Florida salt air finally did it in a few years ago.  In addition, living in an elevated home means one spends their time running up and down stairs and being separated from family or friends if grilling is underway.  So……long story short, we just never used it much and subsequently didn’t feel any strong need to purchase a new one.   I broil and roast.  I roast and broil.  No smoke.  Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  I just don’t like smoky tasting food.  I don’t even want smoked turkey deli meat in a sandwich.

To that end, I did however put a lot of energy into this month’s challenge!  Some of the California participants in our group were able to meet up and complete this month’s assignment together which sounded and looked like a lot of fun.  As for me, I decided to work on my “indoor” grilling skills.  I really couldn’t decide what to make even as the days dwindled down to our deadline (which is right now).  I wasn’t loving the idea of meat… I decided upon shrimp, radicchio, and hearts of palm skewers, as well as a dessert component.  I also made a fresh salsa to go along with the skewers (yum).  Styling it all, however, was another big component of this challenge.  I knew I wanted to shoot outside in late day light to give it that “outside BBQ” feel and look.  I didn’t, though, want a classic July 4th hamburgers and hot dogs appearance either, because that wasn’t representative of  the story behind my dishes.

I was looking for upscale casual.   Sort of like casual Fridays in the office when you get to wear something less conservative but not jeans or shorts?  Do companies still do that?

Starting off with the salsa……made with mango, pineapple, kiwi fruit, red onion, orange bell pepper, jalapeño, and cilantro.  I used to hate dislike cilantro immensely but have somehow come to enjoy it in recent years.  This salsa is soooo good with a nice spicy kick which you really kind of need when making a fruit-based salsa.

All recipes follow at the end of this post.

Then on to the appetizer – or small plate dish – skewers of jumbo shrimp, hearts of palm, and radicchio and lime wedges.  I love hearts of palm.  Did you know that hearts of palm come from the sabel palmetto or cabbage palm?  That is Florida’s state tree.

A nice addition to round out this dinner would be a grilled pork tenderloin with rice pilaf.

On to dessert!  This is Carla Hall’s recipe from The Chew – and it’s aptly named Grilled Pineapple Upside Down Sandwich.  Oh yeah, oh yum.  You can find the recipe HERE.  The raspberry sauce was my little addition. I also included a pullback of how I took the photo – it was brilliantly sunny so a diffuser panel was a necessity….however, the pop-up storm brewing just off camera left  definitely was NOT a necessity to the shoot.

I shot the dessert first and because of the storm, wasn’t sure if I would be able to shoot the appetizer course or not!  Luckily the sun came back out just in time for the sunset, and enough light to get my shots.  It was a beautiful set within a stormy sky.

Please continue on through our blog circle to see what everyone came up with for their BBQ/Grilling dishes this month.  Next up is  Allison Jacobs of Allison Jacobs Photography and I can’t wait to see what she posted!







Pin It
Kay Pickens - July 23, 2012 - 10:35 am

Love the pull back shot. I must MUST try that pineapple dish. Sounds so yummy. Great shots.

Kat - July 23, 2012 - 11:23 am

You just rock Stacey! ‘I don’t like to grill so I’ll make 3 DISHES’ Love it. Very awesome that you went the dessert route as well. It looks incredible!

[…] See the original post: Food Photography & Styling | July Assignment BBQ/Grilling … […]

Carey Pace - July 23, 2012 - 1:42 pm

Gah, I still can’t get over how you live on the stinking BEACH!!!

these are phenomenal, as always!! I adore fruit salsas!! And man, I eat things so that I CAN eat cilantro! I adore it! Love that you included a pull back – so helpful for me. And that sunset – ENVY pure and simple.

Tiffany | Peanut Blossom - July 23, 2012 - 2:36 pm

Stacey! These are awesome! I love the fruity salsa and the Florida-style interpretation of BBQ. The dessert is so what took it all over the top for me. Delicious and gorgeous and I loved your upscale casual approach. That’s definitely what you conveyed!

admin - July 23, 2012 - 4:44 pm

That was funny Kat! 😉

Valeria - July 23, 2012 - 5:16 pm

This is so amazing. perfect light and composition. I wish I could see the ocean from my porch, especially on the other side of country, where the beaches are warmer.

Sabrina Wong - July 23, 2012 - 9:48 pm

These are stunning images Stacey, I really love that first shot with all your salsa ingredients, all different colours, some in cute little saucepans. My second favourite is the grilled pineapple upside down sandwich, love the lightness of the image and the red that threads everything in the photo together. Thanks for posting the pullback shot, it’s always interesting to see those and you have such a beautiful view from the balcony!

Laurie - July 23, 2012 - 11:30 pm

Stacey.. you are such a fabulous cook!! OMG.. this all looks so gorgeous and wonderful. I love your styling.. especially of the Grilled Pineapple Upside Down Sandwich. The colors are spectacular! I rarely shoot outside, but even for the rare chance I may have again.. I would like to get one of those diffusers. And I have never had heart of palm.. I’ll have to take your word on it being so tasty.. but you’ll have to give us a little description of what type of flavor it is. And.. February.. would love to come out there and spend time with you. And cook together!! What fun it would be to have our first TIP get together there. Let your husband know we’re coming!!!! :) xoxo

Amalia Ferreira - July 26, 2012 - 11:03 pm

Everything looks amazing!!

admin - July 27, 2012 - 10:33 am

Thank you Amalia! :)

Tammy Bilodeau - July 30, 2012 - 1:27 am

As usual Stacey, simply stunning. Your fruit salsa sounds divine, and I love you made a dessert….it also looks scrumptious. Thanks for the pull back, I’m gonna need to get one of those gigantor reflectors….lol Seriously though, you totally rocked it!

Kristen - August 7, 2012 - 9:06 am

What gorgeous pictures – that dessert, especially!

Kim - Liv Life - August 21, 2012 - 7:02 pm

Oh, Stacey!! I don’t even know where to begin!!! I do own a grill and I use it nearly 5 days a week, however I don’t produce any grilled food like you did without a grill. You know how I adore mango salsa, what a combo you have.
Thanks also for showing the pulled back shot… As I really don’t have any photography background, it helps to see what other people are doing.
And the sunset?? Sigh…..

NYC Food Photography & Styling Workshop with Béa Peltre | Sarasota-Bradenton FL Food Photographer

Last Friday, I was all jeeped up and heading towards the airport for my flight from Sarasota to NYC to attend a food photography and styling workshop led by the incredibly talented Béa Peltre whose blog “La Tartine Gourmande” is a visual feast for the eyes and a wonderful glimpse into her life and culinary pursuits.  This is one of those times in life when you “just do it.”  I have been subscribed to her blog for a while now, so when I got the feed one morning for her upcoming workshop in NYC, I immediately hit the “pay now” button on Paypal.  I think I gave it a second or two of comprehension, but it was one of those instances where random thoughts (how to get there, where to stay, how to justify the cost, tell the husband, etc.) just kind of dash across your brain in a short-circuited fashion.  I got in – and seriously, this sold out in the matter of hours (maybe minutes?).  The only thing I did know is that the dates of the workshop were perfect as my son would be away at his Duke summer program.  I didn’t quite lose my mom hat in this flurry of signing up.  😉

Getting into JFK was a hair-raising experience as we were approaching the runway just ahead of a severe thunderstorm.  The plane was lurching every which way, people were making the sign of the cross, but I had a retired commercial pilot and his wife (also from Longboat Key) in my row and he said it was just bad wind.  Um, okay……

So I finally got to my hotel – I stayed at the Park South Hotel Friday night since it was south of Midtown and closer to Union Square where those of us attending the workshop would be meeting.  Very nice boutique-style hotel, and they even offered WiFi for free.  Probably doesn’t really matter considering the price of the room, but it still felt like a perk.  Wandered around the Murray Hill neighborhood for a little while until the next line of thunderstorms came through.  Back to the room, my laptop, and room service.

Saturday dawned sunny and a little less humid.  I found a Starbucks down the street (not exactly a challenge) and returned to my room to pack up my things and catch a cab to the Union Square Greenmarket.  I was really excited to meet the other attendees and Béa, as well as Karen Mordechai from Sunday Suppers whose loft in Williamburg, Brooklyn we’d be working in.  Sunday Suppers is the name of her blog and the loft holds a lot of cooking classes, events, and special dinners.

I was about 20 minutes early, so I did a spin around part of the market, and then started looking for ladies with cameras near the 14th Street Whole Foods corner of the square.

That’s Béa on the left and Karen on the right.  From there, we wandered around the market as a group, picking up produce and taking pictures.  Fortunately, we weren’t going to have to come up with our own recipes – Béa had already selected two tartines and two desserts for us to make.  Okay, less stress, thank you.  Did I mention that Béa just had a cookbook released?  Please check out “La Tartine Gourmande – Recipes for an Inspired Life” – even if you don’t cook, the drool-worthy photos are worth it!  All of recipes are also gluten-free if that’s something that interests you.  You can find it here on Amazon.  And did I also mention just how nice she is? She has wonderful stories and beautiful memories to share.

We left the market and took the L train to Brooklyn.  Oh and did I mention that I had my heavy carry-on bag with me?  Luggage and millions of concrete steps do not go together, especially those of the “up” variety as was the case when we arrived at our Bedford Ave stop.  Bless Karen’s heart for ordering cars to transport us the rest of the way to the loft.

Ah, the loft.  Gorgeous all-white space, huge windows, state-of-the-art commercial appliances, and lots of props.  And – a team of ladies who were in the process of making us a delicious lunch.

Lunch was wonderful (potato frittata, roasted beets, asparagus) as you can see as were all the gorgeous ingredients on the counter……

After lunch, we got down to the business of styling and photography.  Being that there were just 12 attendees, we all got to spend some valuable one-on-one time with Béa.  After breaking into four groups of three, we prepared our recipes, selected props, and lastly a  place in the loft to shoot our finished dishes.  The following are my two dishes, one a tartine (of course!) and a dessert of strawberry tiramisu:

Now for fun, let’s post a “before tips from Béa” and the final shot once again, which can be labeled as “after tips from Béa.”  Her suggestion to me was to my my spoon lengthwise along the dish as opposed to it’s original position.  She felt she was seeing the spoon and not my dessert, and she was right.  Look better?

Our workshop concluded with some post-processing information that Béa shared with us.  Her processing is fairly minimal and stressed the importance of white balance and proper cropping.  She also critiqued a few of our images which was very helpful.

After that, we said our goodbyes and promises to get in touch online.  I went back to Manhattan to the NY Hilton for a last night of “I haven’t been on a trip by myself in 13 or 14 years” festivities which again included my laptop and room service.  I know, I lead an exciting life.

Flew home to Florida Sunday afternoon and straight into Tropical Storm Debby.  That was probably the longest descent I ever experienced on an aircraft……we came in from the Atlantic, then went way south, then went north, and then finally came across Anna Maria Island and into Sarasota.  It’s one of those awful feelings when you just want to get on the ground so badly but instead you keep going around and around.  Drove home white-knuckled from the airport listening to one tornado warning after another and hoping that Gulf of Mexico Drive was clear.  I didn’t even want to think about the notion of perhaps not having power which would mean not being able to get in the house.

All’s well that ends well.  It was a great trip in spite of the flights and I’m so very glad I had the opportunity to attend this fabulous workshop!  Thank you again Béa and Karen from Sunday Suppers.


Pin It
celestejones - June 29, 2012 - 4:26 pm

This looks like a lot of fun. Beautiful images too.

Kat - June 29, 2012 - 4:28 pm

Loved this Stacey. What an awesome opportunity and you rocked it. Thanks for sharing!

Sammi - June 29, 2012 - 4:28 pm

I can see your passion throughout all these beautiful images. So clean and fresh. Looks like you had an amazing time!!!!

Stefie - June 29, 2012 - 4:45 pm

Stacey, I absolutely loved your posts and all of the accompanying photographs! You have a wonderful knack of capturing so many key moments with your eye behind the lens! It was such a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to keeping in touch!

Laurie - June 29, 2012 - 4:53 pm

Yeah!! I’m so jelous.. I don’t know how many times your going to hear me tell you that! I really hope you share with us personally what you learned that you didn’t already know. Insights my friend.. we’ll be all over that!!

Also glad you got to stay an extra night for the well deserved “you” time. I soo want to do that. But in England.. on the Moors.. with a servant and a tray of tea and scones! Ok ok, add a cozy fire and some brandy in my tea and then i’m good!! :) xoxo

Kim Hill - June 29, 2012 - 5:01 pm

Sounds like a great trip. Your writing made me feel like I was there with ya. 😀

Jennifer Warthan - June 29, 2012 - 6:45 pm

Love these shots! Your work is wonderful!

Leslie - June 30, 2012 - 11:29 am

Stacey, Your images from the workshop are beautiful!!!!

Bunkycooks - June 30, 2012 - 4:10 pm

I am with you on the flying, particularly in bad weather. Glad you arrived home safely. I met Béa in Portland and she was lovely. I am sure that her class was inspiring. Your images are quite beautiful, so I think you might be able to conduct the next class on your own. 😉

Kay Pickens - June 30, 2012 - 6:55 pm

Fabulous photos!! Thanks so much for sharing your workshop day with us. Glad you got home safely.

admin - July 1, 2012 - 7:46 am

Thank you for your comment Gwen – you are too kind! 😉 Béa was wonderful and so helpful in every way. She just posted on her blog about her France workshop – talk about some amazing pictures in spite of the bad weather they had. Drool-worthy for sure. :)

admin - July 1, 2012 - 7:46 am

Thank you Kay! Me too. 😉

admin - July 1, 2012 - 7:48 am

Thank you Leslie! It was wonderful to meet you and I’m glad we will stay in touch. 😉

admin - July 1, 2012 - 7:54 am

Thank you so much Stefie! It was so nice to meet you and I’m glad we will be staying in touch.

admin - July 1, 2012 - 7:54 am

Thanks Sammi!!! :)

admin - July 1, 2012 - 7:56 am

Thanks Kat! :)

Phillette - July 1, 2012 - 5:37 pm

Stacey, your photos are just fabulous as always! What a fun and creative

Allison Jacobs - July 5, 2012 - 12:17 am

Oh Stacey!!! This looks like SO much fun! I love all the photos you shared & the info about your quick trip to NYC. Thanks for sharing all of this with us too!

Kim - Liv LIfe - July 5, 2012 - 10:55 pm

Wow! What an awesome trip! I loved following you online as you were going through it, and I’m now excited to put the pictures with the words. And beautiful pictures they are! Glad your travels ended safely! My husband laughed when I read the part about the pilot saying it was just strong winds… he said the pilot was probably right!!

Haily Cavalluzzi - July 13, 2012 - 9:22 am

Your food styling photos are so beautiful and inspiring. I must keep up with your food blogs.

admin - July 14, 2012 - 3:06 pm

Thanks Phillette!!

admin - July 14, 2012 - 3:07 pm

Thank you Haily! Trying hard to get food blog established and consistent – just never enough time!

Catherine Bedson - July 15, 2012 - 10:48 pm

Hi Stacey, I really enjoyed your recount of the day..what a fabulous opportunity and your photos are just beautiful.

Shannon - July 21, 2012 - 2:03 pm

I loved reading about your weekend adventure to NYC! Your descriptions and fab photos make me feel as if I was *almost* there with you. Love your dessert photos. Nicely done!

[…] and vibrant images she showcases on her blog.  And when I was crazy lucky to attend one of her food photography and styling workshops last summer in NYC, do ya think I would have asked her?!?  No, ugh.  So I continued my search, […]

Food Photography & Styling | June Assignment | Fish Two Ways Raw & Cooked | Bradenton-Sarasota Food Photographer

Welcome to another monthly challenge with the ladies of The Inspired Plate!  Back in January, 15 of us joined forces to challenge ourselves in the area of food photography and styling.

And speaking of food photography and styling, I attended an incredible workshop in New York City yesterday with none other than Béa Peltre who is an AMAZING food photographer and stylist, as well as blogger.  I can’t wait to share yesterday’s experience in my next blog post!

Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my hotel room at the New York Hilton trying to get this month’s challenge post done while keeping one eye on The Weather Channel (and hoping that I don’t have any trouble flying back to FL this afternoon due to Tropical Storm Debby) and wondering how to describe the execution of my “Fish Two Ways – Raw &  Cooked” assignment.  Well, it started off on the right foot – after shopping at Southgate Plaze, I wandered over to Siesta Key to check out Big Water Fish Market which opened last November.  He had a beautiful selection of fresh fish and although I think my heart was set on Chilean sea bass, I really felt like I should go with grouper since it’s so indigenous to Florida.  He pulled out a tub that just came in from the gulf waters – and talk about fresh!  We captured my “raw” photo there and I thanked him for his hospitality and for allowing me to take some pictures.  It’s a wonderful market and I’m sure they will be very successful.

I only had once chance to develop my recipe and to get it prepared – I decided to alter a recipe I’ve made with Chilean sea bass and changed it up by adding a new layer of flavor with mayonnaise and Monterey Jack cheese that was inspired by a recipe of Paula Deen on the Food Network site.  Okay, so a little decadent as compared to my original recipe!  I held off getting it into the oven as it was going to be dinner (I’m not crazy about letting a fish dish sit or to reheat it) and all the while thinking I would have plenty of natural light.  Ha!  What I didn’t notice was the storm approaching from the south and before I knew it, it was almost dark as night out.  At that point, the fish was in the oven, but my entire plan for the photography setting was basically screwed.  I would have to pull out my Lowel EGO lights and either move everything into the office where I had room to set up the lights, or to try to squeeze a light in my original setting.  I just was too tired and feeling too rushed to try to recreate a setting, so I put a light on a chair in between my sliding door and tabletop and hoped it would work and not blow out exposure.

It worked – it’s a bright image but I breathed a sigh of relief that I was able to get the assignment done.  The recipe for Grouper Monterey Jack with Leeks and Shallots can be found near the end of the post.


Please continue on to see what the other ladies in the group showcased this month – next up is Cayce Wegman | Boston, MA Photographer.




Pin It

[…] The raw seafood I chose was a nice New England Lobster roll grilled on a buttered roll ( Mussels just aren’t that photogenic when they’re closed). Yes the Lobster is technically not raw because it’s cooked and then chilled but I’m sure the talented food photographers in our group will let this slide Please follow along and check out Stacey Siegal | Bradenton-Sarasota Food and Styling Photography | Longboat Key Photographer… […]

cayce - June 25, 2012 - 8:53 am

Stacey this looks sooo delicious! I love the subtle raw photo of the fish, very clean and nice colors!

Kim - Liv Life - June 25, 2012 - 9:13 am

Your lighting turned out beautifully! I have one of those lights, and have been contemplating purchasing a second… with results like these, I think I need to do that!
The Sea Bass is a fish I’ve never tried, but you have me intrigued!

Kat - June 25, 2012 - 9:24 am

Sounds tasty! Looks beautiful too. I love the touch of green you added. And that’s awesome that you have such a great little seafood place near you. Stay safe in the storm and I cant’ wait to see your workshop post!

Kay Pickens - June 25, 2012 - 10:54 am

Can’t wait to see the recipe too. Stay safe from that storm.

I think you did a great job with these…even if the natural light wasn’t cooperating for you!

Valeria - June 25, 2012 - 11:46 am

Sure looks delicious and I love the collage. I do like the light as well.

Tammy Bilodeau - June 25, 2012 - 12:13 pm

Stacey lovely, lovely photos. the light looks great and so does that fish. I am going to have to check back for the recipe. Great work.

Sabrina Wong - July 16, 2012 - 3:34 am

Your dish looks really tasty stacey, it looks good with the artificial light, I didn’t notice until you pointed it out 😉

It’s hard producing a meal for a specific time… I always end up finishing my styled meals somewhere between lunch and dinner!

Documenting a Departure | Longboat Key, Bradenton, Sarasota FL Photographer

With age comes new adventures and opportunities.  Part of me wants to turn the clock back to the days when my son was little; other times I embrace his journey into young adulthood.

As my son departed for the Duke TIP three week summer program on Sunday, my mommy emotions were escalating in competing directions……feeling so proud that he was invited to this program and knowing what a great experience it would be for him in so many ways, but on the other hand, feeling almost panicked with the realization that time is going by so quickly now.  These are three weeks I don’t get to spend with him or to capture some memories with him.

He gets to create his own memories.    Independent of me.

It’s called growing up and letting go.

And I know he will be just fine.


Packing – actually easier for three weeks than a week.  I think everyone knows by now that packing is not my favorite thing.

Quarters for laundry.

Ready for departure.

Entering the dormitory.

Welcome sign.

Setting up his room.

Final photos before Alex encourages us to be on our way….

We’ll see you in three weeks!


Pin It
Jen | Localette - June 12, 2012 - 5:30 pm

Great photos :) What an awesome experience he’s about to embark on!! He’ll never forget it. Just think about all the great stories he’ll be eager to share with you when he returns home! Thinking of you and at least you have an incredible workshop to go to soon! ;))

Sarah Potwin - June 12, 2012 - 5:35 pm

I am so proud of Alex for participating in the Duke program. Bravo! Now you and Dad can find out what it is like in a quiet house….glad to see that Dad is in the pink of health.

I can only imagine the emotions you are feeling this week…just sending Chase off to preschool was tough for me! Beautiful images and I know they will mean so much to him too!

Kim - Liv Life - June 12, 2012 - 10:21 pm

Oh, Stacey! I can feel it… right there at the top of my stomach, that little tightening that threatens to overflow. You did good mom!
I’m so excited for him! What an awesome opportunity.