On Set With Calvin Huang

Remember Calvin Huang from Glamour Wave Photography on my post Here We Go Again? Well, here we go again and this time, Calvin was the subject of a media shoot and interview on his food photography that was being recorded for our local TV station. He’d been invited to teach photography on MediaCorp OKTO Channel “The Art Bus” which will be aired in the coming early June. I had the priviledge to be invited by Calvin to go on set with him this evening, 28th May 2013.

IMG_1903©BondingTool

Sawarto who had learned food styling in Paris partners Calvin (who actually studied marine engineering) on food photography related assigments.

Don't worry, they're not going to undress him.

Don’t worry Calvin, they’re not going to undress you.

IMG_1921©BondingTool

Calvin getting rigged up before the interview.

Interview took place first.

Interview session took place first.

IMG_1964©BondingTool

Sumitra (director and interviewer), Calvin and Ian (visuals).

Food Stylist Sawarto and his colleague.

Food stylist Sawarto and colleague Yunny from Personal Chefs Singapore.

See the difference in the white balance of the same photograph? The one on the right is slightly blueish.

See the difference in the white balance of the same photograph? The one on the right has a slight blueish tinge.

These babies did not have to retouch up their hair every 30 seconds.

These babies did not have to retouch up their hair every 30 seconds.

Canapes will be painted with light. Say what?

Canapes will be painted with light. Say what?

A few “wrapping up” scenes directed by Ian before Calvin commence light painting and food photography.

A few “wrapping up” scenes directed by Ian before Calvin commence light painting and food photography.

Filiming and interview was done at Nourish Kitchen in 63B Boat Quay, Singapore.

Filiming and interview was done at Nourish Studios at 63B Boat Quay, Singapore.

Getting ready...

Sniper at work.

Sawarto had planned to don on his chef’s uniform but his colleague brought two sizes too small, lol… You should have seen his expression trying to squeeze into the outfit.

Sawarto had planned to don on his chef’s uniform but Yunny brought two sizes too small, lol… You should have seen his expression trying to squeeze into the outfit. The giggles nearly interrupted the video shoot.

Sawarto's styling.

Sawarto’s styling.

Calvin mentally calculating what he needed to do.

Calvin mentally calculating what he needed to do.

What went wrong? Why was my photo grainy?

What went wrong? Why was my photo grainy?

Nimble light dancing on the canapes.

Nimble light dancing on the canapes. That’s painting with light in food photography. There are other ways to paint with light and Calvin had shown me some of those pictures. They were marvellous, just like laser show!

Let the show begin...

Let the show begin…

Do you see what he saw?

Can you see what Ian saw?

Isn't it vibrant?

Isn’t it vibrant?

I asked Calvin to do a pose for me...

I asked Calvin to do a pose for my blog…

And he obliged with a big smile! Doesn't it make your day? What a good subject, lol...

And he obliged with a big smile! Didn’t his smile just made your day?
What a good subject, lol…

Mingling with the Nikon and Levitate (Public Relations) management team. They shunned me because I have a Canon! Wahaha…  Juz kidding. Samantha, Estelle and Ellie are good girls. I’m thinking Sex and the City?

Mingling with the Nikon and Levitate (PR) management team. They shunned me because I have a Canon! Wahaha… Juz kidding, Freddy. Samantha, Estelle and Ellie are good girls. I’m thinking Sex and the City?

My shot... :(

My shot… 😦

Calvin's shot painted with torchlight :)

Calvin’s shot painted with light – isn’t this heart stopping and literally gut-wrenching? 😉

Although my shots were bad (stomach turning, in fact), I am not discouraged. My conversations with Calvin had taught me a lot. Calvin asked why I took up photography and in particular food. He encouraged that I should do a little landscape and use manual mode or creative zone to familiarize with my camera. The prize I won (gift from Calvin – he watched it more than 20 times) from Here We Go Again was a 3 hour video on mastering light. Afterall, photography is about painting with lights be it natural or otherwise…

I come from a family of artists. My dad did oil painting and earned his living as a graphic artist before he retired. My aunt is a renowned Singapore’s dedicated stone sculptor Han Sai Por (her name is google-able, if there’s such a word) and so I must persist! There must be some artistic trait in me, no? Did the gene skipped me or was I adopted???

One of the greatest joy for me besides cooking and baking is now learning food photography. See how my blogging has churned out some new interest for me? Cooking and baking are limited to immediate family, close friends and relatives’ consumption but food photographs can be shared worldwide. I can throw my online friends a feast! That said, my fire is rekindled. Never mind if I was adopted, I’d stopped sulking 2 mintues ago.

The real perk in food photography for me is not having to put people in front of the camera. The canapes did not yelled at me when I took a bad shot at them. My curry tuna sandwiches did not accuse me of molesting them. I bet if I had used potatoes, even the French would not fry or lament about harsh lights getting into their eyes. Therefore, food is the best subject for me at this point of my learning curve in photography. They just sit there or as Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “lay like broccoli”. They are still (stationary) and I can play with the composition on my own time. And when I do not have the necessary or beautiful props, I can always go up close and personal with it. My greatest motivation now is to be able to produce food pornography!

The concept of “food pornography” was reportedly coined by American feminist critic Rosalind Coward in her 1984 book Female Desire, in which she wrote:

Cooking food and presenting it beautifully is an act of servitude. It is a way of expressing affection through a gift… That we should aspire to produce perfectly finished and presented food is a symbol of a willing and enjoyable participation in servicing others. Food pornography exactly sustains these meanings relating to the preparation of food. The kinds of picture used always repress the process of production of a meal. They are always beautifully lit, often touched up.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the term was used in a number of academic papers and culinary news articles, including Los Angeles Times’ profile article about the special food company Hickory Farms in December 1993 and another article about business executive travels in July 1994, as well as The Telegraph’s report on the trend of “food porn” in reaction to the low-calorie and diet food movement in May 2000. The Telegraph article credited the Center for Science in the Public Interest with coining the term in 1998 through its regular column called “Right Stuff vs. Food Porn.” – quote taken from knowyourmeme

As a newbie photographer, food is my best model simply because they are patient! Wait a minute, the best part of food as a model is… is… a bowl of plain congee do not command a modelling fee. Most of all, food subjects allow me to practice lighting skills and cultivate creative images, if there’s any in my genes. Am I your biological child dad? Tell me now so I’d know if I should stop and forever hold my peace. Lenses are not cheap! Ok, I am still sore I did not become an accomplished photographer in 3 months 😦

Anyhoo, today, with the grace of my favourite food photographer, Calvin Huang, I’d delve into the world of making magic with food (behind the scene). His recipe for success has nothing to do with one’s genetic make-up but practice, practice and more practice!

Calvin’s parting quote:

Belief sets Focus
Focus sets Direction and
Direction sets Success!

Back Left: Yunny Yong, Samantha Chan, Sawarto, Freddy, Ellie Lee, Estelle Tan Front: Calvin Huang and I ;-)

Back Left: Yunny Yong, Samantha Chan, Sawarto, Freddy, Ellie Lee, Estelle Tan
Front: Calvin Huang and I.

Happy learning 🙂

P.S. By the way, I am my father’s child even if I may not have his family’s artistic gene, I live by his mantra “活到老,学到老” (Huo Dao Lao, Xue Dao Lao) which translates to “Learning is an intrinsic part of existence. We should continue learning as we live and grow old.” This one’s for you, Dad! 😀

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Comments
9 Responses to “On Set With Calvin Huang”
  1. WOW…
    i’m craving for this kind of tutorial to improve my skills….
    Sharing this more over sam…

  2. lignumdraco says:

    A great and fun experience. I guess you’ll have to buy a Nikon now. 🙂

    What happened to the food afterwards?

    • Sam Han says:

      The canapes got discarded but we had curry puffs during break time and went out for dinner afterwards.Nikon sent over a camera this Thurs (on loan) for me to try out. Let’s see if it can convince me 😉

  3. sgfoodonfoot says:

    Been following your blog for a while and I think your strong point is in food styling (the artistic side of the family gene). While you strive to improve your photography skill, you may want to also learn more about food styling.

    • Sam Han says:

      Yes food styling is the next thing I want to learn and hopefully have an eye for it. Thank you so very much, Derrick. Your comment is truly inspiring me to keep at it 😀

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