In May 2018 I went to Istanbul for 17 days to spend time at a food photography studio for personal development. I had been following the studio on Instagram for nearly two years, then contacted them because I wanted to try going abroad with work more. I found a place to stay with three girls I’d never met before, who became good friends to me. I felt so nervous the day I left with everything being so unknown, but I fitted in well and found the culture of Turkey so new and exciting. The eclectic mix of cultures, East meeting West, the incredible architecture, travelling by boat between each side of the city and the buzz of nightfall with it being ramadan. I commuted to the studio by bus, metro train and bus again every morning. The studio had an in-house chef who prepared us food for breakfast and lunch. I felt so lucky to be eating such delicious, traditional Turkish food every day. The studio photographs for a wide range of clients, many Turkish, but also international companies such as Caribou Coffee and KFC. I learnt loads being in the environment of the studio, and assisting Mehmet (the director) on shoots outside of the studio for Swissotel and on a trip to the city of Izmir for a Turkish restaurant shoot. The studio had an incredibly diverse and rich props room, with many hand finished background sets and handmade ceramic plates and bowls Mehmet had commissioned. I did some of my own shoots whilst at the studio using their props. It was a dream going to the market, picking out ingredients to photograph and dressing sets. I also photographed the mulberry, which grows around Istanbul. I went out and picked some branches and the most beautiful berries I could find. I found them evocative of how I felt being there. I think they’re a wonderful shape. They will always remind me of my time in the city.
I loved being in Jakarta with my camera photographing food. I’m usually capturing food in a styled and set up way, but I enjoyed doing some documentary shots of food being prepared. Sambals are served with most Indonesian meals, they vary widely but are often very hot. They appear simple but usually have many processes behind them and are made up of many different ingredients to enhance and add to sweet, spicy, salty, umami flavours in a meal.
I spent two nights in November camping on the volcanic island Krakatoa. I accompanied photographer Martin Westlake who has been running his own photo project on the volcanoes of Indonesia for over ten years. The volcano Krakatoa blew in 1883 and was one of the largest seismic events in history. It caused a year of darkness across the world. We camped on the now dormant, black sandy beach of Krakatoa which looks out towards Anak Krakatau (‘Child of Krakatoa’ Indonesian translation) across the water, about 4km away. The volcano erupted on average every 10 minutes. Huge plumes of smoke billowed from the crater, when we went closer by boat huge rocks could be seen being shot out into the air. As night fell the crater glowed and the lava became more visible. Fountains spitting out and down the face of the volcano made for excellent long exposure shots (annoyingly I didn’t quite crack these and they’re out of focus). The eruptions caused sonic booms which woke me up a few times through the night. I could see the volcano from my tent, I loved sitting up in bed watching the lava shows when I heard a sonic boom. Our guide made us beautiful food, whole fish and squid cooked over an open fire, fried fish, rice, tofu and vegetables, I enjoyed photographing these too. One of my favourite hobbies is snorkelling, and there were excellent reefs to be seen around the edge of the active volcano. On the last morning activity ceased, and perhaps insensibly, I went snorkelling on the edges of Anak Krakatau. The black sandy floor of the sea made the vibrant colours of corals and fish stand out. The underwater landscape was immense too with deep canyons suddenly turning shallow and drop offs into deep blue water to swim over and look down into. The water became hot in some places, like bath water, and air bubbles streamed out from the sand. When we returned to the mainland we went to the volcanology centre where we could see the charts of activity over the time we’d been there.