Monday, December 19, 2011

Food Network UK & Jenny Morris

View the BTS interviews, thoughts and all that, from the shoot with Jenny for Food Network UK.


So earlier this year Jenny Morris got signed on by Food Network UK, the pay channel focusing on food. This is a huge scoop, as Jenny will now be seen in homes and kitchens all over Europe and Asia, and possible in time, the US. Filming of the first series starts in January in none other than Morocco, one of Jenny’s haunts in world travel.

It couldn’t happen at a better time, as this year Jenny also released her long awaited “Cooking with Jenny Morris” recipe book, that I had the privilege to shoot, and we’ll still discuss in this blog in coming weeks.


However, in the interim, Food Network commissioned me to shoot Jenny’s international PR and publicity material. What a a fab day. Joleta Keane, my favourite make-up ally, was in the for day, fighting some early pregnancy nausea, but she’s a trooper and made Jenny look fab.

For a quick vibe of the day, see the video, and here I’ll just post a bunch of the pics.


This pic was the first of the day, more or less as a make-up test shot, but I like the vibe and decided to do some shots in this setting. I’ve found that the first bunch of pics of any given portrait shoot is more settling in, getting the sitter comfortable and “feeling” out the vibe. A lot of these images gets chucked early on. However, in some instances, you don’t have that luxury, and you need to capture the shot within the first five minutes, or it’s all going to go downhill from that. Not all people have the ability to stay focused and relaxed.

I have found with people like Jenny that initially must get a winner shot, which builds her confidence and then the rest of the day she just keeps getting better and stronger in front of the camera. However, and this is not exaggeration, on a full-day shoot like this, the poor subject gets smile fatigue and tired. This starts to show later on, so short bursts of shots helps keep everything fresh.


I’m a big fan of the environmental portrait, as the person is more comfortable here, it tells you even more about the subject and you normally get to play with a mixture of available light and flash. As much fun as shooting strictly flash-lit portraits are, a good mix of available light just cements the local atmosphere and ambience. For lifestyle type shots like the above it is also essential.


Jenny’s kitchen studio is also great, as it has a funky urban design interior, but the most gorgeous little alley outside, giving you the sense that you’re somewhere in Greece or Portugal. The cover for her book (front and back), was shot in this little alley. The textures and shapes all add to the ambience and story that is being told about Jenny.



Since images like these get used in all types of media, online, print, lifestyle, advertising, posters, avatars, etcetera. I find it is very useful to shoot in a variety of styles. Newspapers and magazines have different requirements in terms of style and one size does not fit all, so to speak. From airy available light lifestyle vibes, to more conservative, publicity portrait lighting, to proper studio lighting. Apart from the fact that this variety is in the interest of the client, it also keeps thing interesting for me.


In this case we also needed to shoot a food image, so we had a set-up that I could get this done, while Joleta was touching up on Jenny’s hair and makeup. Dual set-ups in high turnaround shoot days are a huge help. In this way the subject  can move in-between sets, without having to wait around for me to get my gear set-up, and also to have food-setups ready or product setups or whatever the need may be on the day.


What was particularly cool about this shoot was all the locations. We did about three set-ups at Jenny’s studio, we went to her home where we did pics in her garden and then off to my studio, for more conventional PR portraits.

This does create a bit of work, and also some urgency on getting things done, but the variety is priceless in my opinion.


It certainly doesn’t hurt that Jenny’s house is situated on a beautiful piece of land, overlooking the Cape and Table Mountain with huge lavender bushes in her garden and a bit of cloud cover to soft-box the light. Fill-in was used in most places though.


Jenny and I have been working together for the last four years, and have built up a great repoir and work-flow together. It helps so much if your subject trusts you to make them look their best. Some people simply does not seem to understand that it is in my best interest that they look good. Often times people seem to think I’m waiting for that one shot where they look stupid, so I can create a viral email out of it and take the mickey out of it. Luckily, between Jenny and me the understanding and mutual symbiosis is understood and respected. We have fun, laugh and get the shots.


Now, about makeup and retouching. Yes, I do recommend both. No, it’s not dishonest, in most cases, as you don’t go out into the street without brushing your teeth. Your teeth is not naturally clean and minty-smelling, it takes some grooming. We present ourselves all the time. I’m not for excessive retouching or overdoing things, naturally, but I do advise all people, where possible to make use of a makeup artist. Photography does not conceal normally, it is more likely to reveal. I don’t need to explain the problem that develops with this characteristic of the medium, once you start photographing persons over the age of twenty five who does not have perfect skin.

Did I do any retouching on Jenny’s face? OBVIOUSLY NOT!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Running Wild

It’s not that I don’t like blogging, in fact, I love it. At last count, I tried to maintain 5 of the things. It’s just, I’ve been really busy, with a workload not befitting one individual. I’m typing this blog at 1:14.AM. _MG_2905

So all I’m telling you is that I’ve been to Zambia last week, with Jenny Morris, to stay at the most beautiful Royal Chundu Lodge, on the mighty Zambezi river. As I’ll be blogging about this extensively, all I’ll tell you is that 4 days away, and 4 weeks of insanity before that, has left me a bit thin on the blogging efforts.

I’m positively choked up with all the stories and shoots I want to blog, but just haven’t had the time. So please be patient. Soon and very soon I’ll get back on track.

I just got a new laptop after my other one had a melt-down last month, and I was restricted to my workstation at work, where the machine couldn’t stay ahead with conversion and retouching. Generally I blog at night, so now that I have a machine to take home again, I’ll be getting more time here.

Posts to look forward to:

  • The making of “Cooking with Jenny Morris” with videos and BTS images.
  • Shooting Continental 2011, with video and bts images.
  • Zambia 2011 with Jenny Morris, John Maythan, Liezel van der Westhuizen, Alan Ford, Clayton Morar and Bianca Coleman, to name but a few.
  • Svenmill 2011 – shooting decor in a factory
  • A couple of weddings
  • Shooting an glamour portrait of an editor
  • and too many others to remember. And I made sure that there were videos shot on most every shoot, so watch this space.

Anyways, till very soon, hang tight, high with hope, down with dope and don’t run with scissors, or pour water on acid.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Table Mountain - A Cape Town Wonder

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Last night, our dear Table Mountain, was chosen as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. This is a big deal for Cape Tonians, as in some way or the other, our lives are influenced by this majestic rock daily.

Either you use it as a way to align yourself with direction ("towards the mountain" is a universally accepted wind-direction for us. "Away from the mountain" is seldom said, since this leaves most of us with a nagging feeling of discomfort, so we rather just say "Towards Bellville", which for most people who live in the City Bowl, in the shadow of the mountain, is akin to saying "Towards Cairo"), or a happy place to look at and feel some sense of calm. Even from my very semi-industrial enclave in the suburbs, I can see Table Mountain. Ok, from my porch at the studio, looking over a petrol station, I can see it.


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Well, photographers don't escape the influence of the moutain either. Or at least I don't. Whether I'm shooting scenics, showing our beautiful outcrop, or whether I'm shooting a portrait of Ryan O'Connor, or a wedding for foreign visitors (infront and on the mountain), cars for a magazine with the mountain peeping out over the skyline, bottles of wine for an advert dropped in over the mountain with a clever catchline... or out at Blouberg beach with my family. She always crops up somewhere.
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 The view from Table Mountain is 360 degrees of amazing sights. There is nothing in the way, except the odd cloud now and again. But for the most part, the view from Cape Town's beacon is gorgeous. In every direction.
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Ryan O'Conner for MyWeek, 2009. Contact for Editorial License

Wedding 2011

Wedding 2010

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To licence RF or order print, contact
 Who wouldn't want to practice water-sports against a backdrop like that? Even if you wipe out primo, people can still see your body get wrecked but the Atlantic against a tranquil backdrop. The wind in this area is also generally good for wind- and kitesurfing enthusiasts.

Wedding 2009

Wedding 2009

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License RF from

License RF from

To licence RF or order print, contact

To licence RF or order print, contact

To licence RF or order print, contact
 All in all, as I hope you can see, we're very privileged to have this rock crop out over us, and we are very clever to live where we do. I'm just grateful that Cape Town and those custodians of its brand, has taken a very keen angle on promoting all things Cape Town. We've been chosen as the host city for the World Design Capital 2014 initiative, we made a huge success of the FIFA 2010 leg in Cape Town, and are continually pushing forward the image and beauty of our fair city.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shooting some Rice

(C) Danie Nel Photography cc

A while ago I had the great opportunity to shoot with Jenny Morris again, but not on her book, as I've been doing for a good part of the winter. This time around we were shooting for Spekko Rice, with Susan Bosman picking up styling duties, and Jenny designing the recipes.

We had 3 days in her studio, and as always it was a fun affair at the "Cook's Playground".

If you thought rice was not an interesting food to shoot, or that there is not a lot you can do with it, think again. I've never had so many different types of rice dishes, ever, and I'm still quite amazed how a little grain plant from obscure paddies in Asia can be used in such culinary masterpieces.

It's also important when shooting food, and especially over three days, that you mix up the light set-up, in order to avoid it looking the same in every shot, but also to keep it similar enough for the thread of consistency to go through all the images.  

I can't let too much out of the bag in terms of shooting the images or what happened behind the scenes. However, I can share some of the results with you! Enjoy, get hungry, and trust me, it tastes as good as it look.

Sorry to do this, but as I've been ripped off I have to put this disclaimer here:

All images on this blog belongs to Danie Nel Photography cc and the commissioning client in its entirety, and any unauthorised copying or usage of these images are strictly prohibited, whether in use for blogs, websites, print or any manner of distribution, except in this blog.

Now with the unpleasantries out of the way, eat your monitor.

Jenny Morris a.k.a. The Giggling Gourmet

The Team (ex Jenny - she had to go and do a radio show when we took this pic). In broad terms it's our culinary assistants for the day, the PR representative for Pioneer Foods and the advertising agency's art director, and me on the right. Second to left is Susan Bosman. For sake of privacy I'll not name the others.

Remember my food photography portfolio is viewable at my website.