If you have ever been to Spain then you will know that the food looks and tastes fantastic – tapas served in beach restaurants, street bars during fiesta time or in a hidden away Andalucian patio that you may walk straight past unless you knew it was there. Spanish tapas and food is about sunshine, friends, socialising and enjoyment so when it comes to photographing tapas I prefer to keep them as natural as possible – no flash, light tents or white backgrounds just a few rustic props and plenty of Spanish sun to provide some natural light. Even when the sun is high in the sky which is usually the worst time to shoot I find that this is the perfect time, after all, lunchtime is when we normally enjoy tapas so why not picture them in the same way they are served with the sun directly above?
I’ve been shooting Spanish tapas and recipes for a number of years now with everything from the phone to a DSLR, tapas were kind of what got me interested in photography as we used to make up our own recipes for our Spanish online deli and of course we needed images. The good part was obviously being able to eat the creations after after they had been shot!
So why the natural light approach? Well first of all I am no ‘natural light’ photographer, light is light and if its good then I use it whether it be free from the big yellow ball in the sky, a single speedlight or studio strobes – whatever works best. When it came to photographing tapas it became apparent very quickly that our grass covered pergola provided some lovely dappled light, a 16sq2 ft ‘gobo’ and something very natural as enjoying Spanish food under the shade is where it all happens, the end result was Spanish food images that look like they do when the waiter puts them on the table…
Above are a few examples of where these type of images have been featured and/or we have been consulted over Spanish food and tapas in general. It has also been a pleasure working with Living Spain magazine to detail Spanish food dishes, the famous Serrano and Iberico hams as well as terracotta cookware.
Letting the natural light do its work when photographing tapas means little to no post processing, as mentioned above I try to create something as close as possible to what is actually served on the table letting the Spanish colours contrast and simply ‘ooze’ food at a Mediterranean bar or restaurant.
Top 5 Best Spanish Tapas:
Our own (very early) recipe combining the classic serrano ham and broad bean combination typical to Spanish tapas bars. Here we blitz everything together, add a hint of lemon, smoked paprika and chilli and deep fry for a few minutes. These fresh, spicy, crispy fritters are great with a cool mint yoghurt dip or tomato salsa.
- Ready in minutes
- Easy to prepare
- Great with dips and salsas
The chorizo is Spain’s best loved sausage and is so versatile in its use, can be cooked or just served sliced, can be hot or mild. Here we use still soft chorizo, perfect for cooking and pair it with the sweetness of local honey and the famous sherry vinegar form Jerez. Cook slowly and gently and your chorizo will be transformed.
- Perfect appetizer
- Sticky and sweet
- Can be spicy or not
Avocado is such a versatile ingredient making it perfect for so many dishes to add colour or to help bring together a variety of other tastes and textures. In this dish we used a nice juicy thick slice of beef tomato topped with a layer of finely sliced avocado for colour and then crisp, salty fried pancetta all enhanced by a drizzle of olive oil.
- Mini individual salads
- Looks great as part of a buffet
- Tasty combination
This shellfish tapas dish is a must have for your table. Sweet fresh clams with a spicy tomato sauce make this a favourite with everyone. Although a little fiddly to prepare, once cleaned, the clams cook in minutes and the sauce is the hero of the day and well worth the effort. Don’t forget lots of fresh crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.
- Full of flavor
- Unique seafood dish
- Serve hot
Another great seafood tapas dish which, just for the presentation is so worth a little time and effort. Not only does it look good but this dish tastes so delicious. We tested it on our local policeman, an Orce local after dropping our son off from school one afternoon and he asked for more – what more can we say!
- Delicious vegetable stuffing
- Filling and satisfying
- Full of flavor and colour
We Shoot Tapas!
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