Wednesday, June 17, 2009
A couple of weeks ago I discovered the tantalizing blog, Tartelette, while looking for colorful food photos to post. I immediately sent an e-mail to Helen, the creator of Tartelette, asking if she would like to be featured on Simply Hue and she so graciously agreed. Below is her very warm and inspiring interview. WARNING! If you're on a diet you might want to squeeze your eyes closed for the food photos. ;) Here goes!
I'm Helene (pronounced Helen), a.k.a Tartelette, a nickname I got early on from my family because one of the things I love to bake are tarts of all kinds. I am from the area of Provence, home of the great painter Cezanne. My dad being in the French Air Force got stationed on various bases all around the area until he retired and moved us back to a small town outside of Paris.
I can't think of a day I don't bake something or play with something in the kitchen. I also can't think of a day I don't read or photograph something. I guess my parents always encouraged us to craft something or read or play with others and I carried these traits into my adult life. I wish I had more time for crafts these days!
I think that my brother's passing 9 years ago had a tremendous impact on me and made me think early on about how I wanted to go through life. He was passionate about people, he was a talented photographer and a tremendously gifted jewelry maker and his outlook on life sort of transported itself on me when he died. He had a knack for recognizing the little things that make the big things, as well as finding the pulse of things in a crowded room. We share the same raw sensitivity towards life and people.
I started Tartelette as a way to unwind after my full day of work as executive pastry chef for a restaurant here in town.....easy, simple desserts that I would make at home for my family. Since then I have stopped working full time in a restaurant kitchen but I guess you can't really take the pastry chef out of the kitchen and before I knew it the blog became my canvas to create or re-create desserts I now make for private orders and friends.
I love listening to people and hearing their stories and live through their experiences. Writing the blog allows me to do just that and to pass it on. I realized in the process that readers found my little life snippets funny or inspiring which pushes me to keep going even when time is limited.
I got into food photography more seriously as I tried to convey the "deliciousness" and "beauty" of desserts through pictures. I am thoroughly enjoying the process of food styling and food photography and having this as a creative outlet. Sometimes my concepts for a picture translate easily and sometimes I am less happy but the process behind it leaves me happy nonetheless because I have learned something about it and myself. Photography is a very subjective domain but I am just having a blast doing what I do.
Colors are very much a part of my work and I am so thankful for the working palette that fruits provide. I love playing with colors in the desserts themselves (French macaroons are wonderful for that) but mostly with the props I use in the photographs. It's funny but my mother always says that I was a colorful child, a sombre teenager, and a going back to color adult. I think that a lot of color or very vibrant colors would be unsettling in a dessert itself (I would run away from a neon pink pastry cream for example) but I think the use of beautiful reds, pinks and greens in garnishes (berries, herbs, candied flowers) can make a tart or a cake pop up on a screen. I often start plating on white and then build the scene around it, thinking about complimenting as well as opposite colors.
We eat with our eyes first and a few chosen spots of color really help bring a dish forward. It's a fine balance and there is such a thing as too much. I mean, I am not going to overload a picture with colorful props if they don't really relate to how and where I would eat a certain dessert. Sometimes tone on tone works best. I think it's a matter of not getting hung up if a color scheme does not work but to walk away and try again later.
Thank you, Helen. Our tastebuds will never be the same!
To view more of Helen's beautiful photos visit Helen McSweeney Photography or stop by her Etsy Shop.
Posted by Vicki at 8:00 AM