July 10, 2016 in food styling
This story is a play on the classic still life oil painting style of the Dutch masters in the 17th century. A table top shoot with fresh fruit and vegetables and classic props – styled simply and graphically, with minimal items and using empty space to make them look modern in contrast to the often visually-busy Golden Age still life paintings. Photography by the talented Beth Evans.
May 20, 2016 in food styling
Dog gone: Theo Randall’s final meal
What would your last meal be?
Each week in ‘Cook’ The Guardian newspaper’s food supplement, a different top chef is interviewed in a lighthearted look at how they would spend their last meal, what it would be and why…
For these images I selected props and styled to help visualise the last bites of Padma Lakshmi, Arthur Jeffes, Pierre Koffman, Dan Doherty, Tom Kerridge, Theo Randall, Kelis and Tim Hayward.
The animated cinemagraphs are by photographer Emma Lee.
‘The story of the dream changes with each retelling’: Arthur Jeffes’ final meal
French leave: Pierre Koffmann’s final meal
‘I’ve hunted and gathered things from everywhere’: Padma Lakshmi’s final meal
‘By the time I’m done cooking, I just want to order pizza’: Kelis’s final meal
“I’d want someone to make a spiralised courgette salad and then pour it down the waste disposal”: Tim Hayward’s final meal
Seaside send-off: Tom Kerridge’s final meal
Homecoming: Dan Doherty’s final meal
April 10, 2016 in food styling
These photographs were shot for Open Blue, the world’s leading mariculture farm situated off the coast of Panama. Their premium quality fish are raised in a natural and controlled environment in the world’s largest open ocean farm and supplied to the global restaurant industry.
As prop stylist I sourced backgrounds, surfaces and culinary props to show the beauty and texture of the fish in its raw state and also how it can be prepared and used in raw and cooked dishes. Working with Allies Design Studio, photographer Uli Schade and food stylist Peta O’Brien, we created a series of pure images that let the fish do the talking.
Open Blue Cobia fish are farmed in a sustainable way in farms in the open water in Panama, working in harmony with the ocean and ecosystem, and many experts call it the world’s most sustainable aquaculture operation.
Cobia is a pure, healthy, versatile white fish that is offered in high quality sashimi grade, so can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Its taste is a rich buttery flavor it is uniquely delicious any way you prepare it.
I took these pictures last year. I had popped into Made London, an event held at One Marylebone where European designer makers exhibit, to see my friend Grainne Morton who had a stand there. After we caught up I browsed the show and bought a few new objects. I still had my favourite hired photo shoot surface at home and couldn’t resist taking some photos before it was returned to the prop house the next day. My new purchases all had a monochrome, geometric and graphic quality that I contrasted with a handful of natural items picked from the garden.
This delicate metal ring is by jeweller Kirsty Pearson, another of the Crafts Council’s Hothouse designer makers in 2013.
Craft shows are a great way to buy unique, hand made items for your home or to wear and to support designer makers at the same time.
Made London is being held at the same venue this year on 24-26 October 2014.
With New Year’s Eve coming up, I wanted to share a shoot I worked on recently with the talented photographer Beth Evans for The Observer Food Monthly in conjunction with John Lewis. Although this was Part 2 of ideas for a stylish Christmas it’s also perfect for New Year. The theme was cocktails in the jazz age, so think The Great Gatsby to get you into the party mood.
Drinks were served in cut glass tumblers and hi balls, food served in stainless steel bowls, set on geometric fabric tablecloths to set the scene. Cocktail shakers with their timeless and elegant shape were necessary to make the drinks and added a sculptural shape to the images.
I wrapped gifts in silver paper with strings of sequins wound round them and topped with feathers. Party food was luscious and luxuriant; deep, dark velvety grapes, devils on horseback, smoked salmon blinis and juicy vibrant olives, pomegranates and Pavlova all set in low light with twinkling candles. Recipes include Between The Sheets, Gin Rickey and Mint Julep. All quite potent from the small sips I tried!
As part of the overall feature I also styled and prepped the set for three short films for John Lewis with writer and presenter Felicity Cloake. Here Felicity shows you how to mix the perfect cocktail:
You can read the full story and see other images, ideas, tips, recipes and a competition to win a cookery class and a set of copper cookware! now over on The Guardian Online. There is also a great interactive version with high res images and videos:
All the props are available to buy at John Lewis so if you want to know what any of the products featured are the click on the main image on that page and you can see the product names and prices.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you the very best for the new year!
These images are from my recent work for The Observer that appeared in last Sunday’s publication. They are from Part 1 of a Christmas Celebrations feature in The Observer Food Monthly and sponsored by leading UK high street retailer John Lewis. I selected all the products featured in the shots from the John Lewis Oxford Street store and their extensive online shop and mixed them with bespoke touches and wrapped gifts that I had made beforehand. The images were taken by talented photographer Helen Cathcart who I worked with on location to create the shots.
There were two stories within the feature. The first was “Make & Bake” to showcase the great cook and bakeware at John Lewis. Chrissie Holden who assisted me on the shoot made the mince pies and biscuits so beautifully.
You can read the full Make & Bake article and see other images now over on The Guardian Online. If you want to know what any of the products featured are the click on the main image on that page and you can see the product names and prices.
It was followed by “Dressed to Impress” – ideas on how to style your festive table. I embellished mini napkin holders and wrapped glasses with fabric as candle holders and mixed with their own birch church candles. You can also read this full story on The Guardian Online’s website – have a look, I would love to know what you think.
The dark, rich and moody image above is one of may favourites from the shoot. The image below has plates and dishes piled high as if mid-process of setting the table, the one in the magazine was much more elaborate.
You can read the full John Lewis Cook Christmas feature here – with lots of images, ideas, tips, recipes and a competition to win a cookery class and a set of copper cookware!
Part 2 of this story will be in The Observer on Sunday December 8th so pick up a copy to read more.
There is no denying it is the beginning of the festive season and time to start preparing to eat, drink and be merry!
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a contributing stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for 16 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
To enquire about commissioning Sania for commercial or editorial projects, please use the contact form.