Blog

Visual stories from my life and work.

Photographer Hélène Dujardin and Chef John Ondo's food workshop and retreat

Talented food photographer Hélène Dujardin recently taught a workshop in beautiful Isle of Palms, South Carolina, and I had the good fortune to attend. She taught alongside Chef John Ondo, who owns the restaurant Lana, a long-time Charleston favorite known for Mediterranean flavors. Our days were filled with photography demos, hands-on learning and cooking sessions. We took a short field trip to a fresh fish market and spent one afternoon exploring nearby historic Charleston. 

Hélène’s instruction focused on manipulating natural and artificial light to create mood and tell a story with our photography. She brought along beautiful hand-made props for us to use, including dishes, linens and surfaces. Our assignments were sometimes challenging: we learned how to make unattractive food look appetizing and how to carefully and thoughtfully style and photograph simple ingredients. One thing we never had to do was cook for ourselves because Chef Ondo prepared all our meals, and I can’t remember the last time I ate so well.

This was my first visit to Charleston, which is a charming historic city filled with grand old homes, pastel colors and majestic, towering trees. But as a Midwesterner, one of the biggest pleasures was staying near the ocean. A quiet walk on the beach each morning put me in the right frame of mind for our busy days of learning.