Food & Drink Show NI

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The first Food & Drink Show NI is all done and dusted so if you’re reading this then for this year you’re too late.  But fret not!  Read on dear internet user, this Belfast Photographer had it covered.

So the company behind the Food & Drink Show NI was organised by Inform Communications, a client of mine for several years now.  It is always ambitious starting a new festival or show and this was no exception.  With the majority of other food shows in the county being free The Food & Drink Show NI had to step up and produce the goods.  With some brilliant local suppliers and several of the best national celebrity chefs the organisers were on to a winner.  With names like James Martin, Paul Hollywood, Rachel Allen and Nevin Spence but to name a few, a packed theatre was assured.

As per usual i got my brief several days before the show was to start.  The Food & Drink Show NI took place over a weekend from Friday morning until Sunday evening.  I was required on Friday and the Sunday.  I was tasked with photographing the celebrity demonstrations as well as capturing the atmosphere of the show.  Inform Communications had several of their own clients there, Moy Park Chicken being one of them.  I would also have to look after their requirements for photographs should the need arise.

The Kings Hall Pavillion was divided into two areas.  The celebrity chef theatre and the exhibitors area.  I had to move fluidly between the two.  This would mean that i would have to be light with my gear and have a charged phone to take calls when staged photographs were required.

In the theatre where the demonstrations were to be carried out i had to use three wirelessly controlled speedlights.  I had to attached radio triggers to these speedlights as the conventional infrared Nikon flash controller wouldn’t work in such a vast space.  I had two lights set up behind the first set of seats pointing towards the stage bouncing the light off the roof.  I had a third light to the side of the stage and moved it accordingly depending on what side of the stage the chef was on.  I like to have a little light on the side of a persons head.

I had to shoot on my D600 with the 70-200mm lens as i couldn’t get that close to the stage without annoying the paying members of the public.  The main advantage of having a camera with a 25 megapixel sensor is  you can shoot with a long lens and crop into the photo quite a lot without sacrificing image size.

My other tasks at the Food & Drink Show NI were to photograph members of the public enjoying themselves in the main auditorium.  For this i had the D3s and D600 with speedlights attached and i also carried another speedlight on a compact light stand.  I love using off camera flash but of course it can only be used in suitable environments.  When there are loads of people walking around its not that sensible to set up lots of lights.  I usually tried to find a spot where no people were walking and put it there.

The most mental part of the Food & Drink Show NI was when James Martin had to leave the demo theatre and go to his book signing.  On the way to the mini easons stand he was to visit several show sponsors for publicity photographs.  This was the easy part, the hard part was getting enough space between the mad crowds to get the shots i needed!  This was one of those moments where i really did have to shout and shout loud to get everyones attention.

The Food & Drink Show NI was from my view anyway an amazing success and i cant wait until the return of it next year.

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