manon houston

Food Photographer & Stylist

Assisting on set in Bali

Manon HoustonComment

In December 2018 I went to Bali to assist photographer Martin Westlake on a two day photoshoot for Potato Head Beach Club and their luxury boutique hotel Katamama, each designed by Indonesian architect Andra Matin. I had been to Bali once before so the purpose of going back this time was to assist Martin, I only stayed for three nights before continuing my trip to Sumatra. I arrived late the day before the shoot, the days started at 5am and ran until 6pm so it was my time there was very work focused. I’m always looking for opportunities to expand my skills and learn from other professionals. The creative director for Potato Head, Dan Mitchell was on set. There was such a buzz of creativity which was incredible to experience being in such a beautiful, tropical location. I got around on scooter taxis and when I wasn’t smug and full from all the food on set, I enjoyed perfect Nasi Goreng from roadside stalls.

The first day was all about shooting the food for the in-house restaurant Ijen, the food was stunning. Massaged octopus in delicious glazes, watermelon and strawberry salads, deep fried fish skin with banana-leaf cooked fish, baby squid. I enjoyed trying everything we shot throughout the day (one of the best bits about food photography).

The second day was interiors for the hotel. It was interesting seeing the different rooms, many glass fronted bathrooms looking out onto private jungle gardens, rooftop baths overlooking the sea. Each room had its own bar with locally produced liqueurs, freezers for ice, fresh herbs and fruits and cocktail recipe books.

I learnt so much by spending time with Martin, we chatted throughout the day, he answered all my questions. I think it’s the best way to develop a skill is to put time and effort into learn from others. It was great to ask his opinions and views on all aspects of working as a photographer and running your own business. It’s very valuable spending time with an accomplished photographer to see how they have worked their way up and built their career, it gives me confidence to see the steps necessary to take. I came away with new knowledge and ideas that I can put into practice with my own work immediately.

As a thank you for my time Martin gave me a copy of the Will Goldfarb’s cook book which he had photographed, ‘Room For Dessert’. Will recently had a Neflix’s Chef’s Table documentary made about him. Thanks Martin!