Shooting with Helene Dujardin (but Taking a Nap Instead)

Shooting with Helene Dujardin. Two Loves Studio Rachel Korinek Helene Dujardin Food Photographer

I really wanted to title this post, “That awkward moment when you vomit when meeting your idol” or “That time Helene Dujardin drove me to the doctors”. I am not entirely sure how much cheek I can get away with whilst still maintaining some degree of professionalism, but the title of this post about shooting with Helene Dujardin could have been either of those. True story.

Many of you were super excited that I shot with the well loved food photographer Helene Dujardin at the end of last year in Charleston, and a couple of you have emailed me to see if I would be sharing my experience on the blog. Well, here it is in all its gory glory.

I had such great hopes of writing a post about how you can make dreams come true by taking actions, and inspiring you all through a narrative about the two days I spent with Helene. But as fate would have it, I picked up a stomach flu on the plane ride over and I never in my wildest dreams imagined that this moment would unfold the way it did.

Shooting with Helene Dujardin. Two Loves Studio Rachel Korinek Helene Dujardin Food Photographer

Shooting with Helene Dujardin. Two Loves Studio Rachel Korinek Helene Dujardin Food Photographer

Shooting with Helene Dujardin. Two Loves Studio Rachel Korinek Helene Dujardin Food Photographer

I’ll be short here so we can get to the good stuff.

I arrived at Helene’s studio feeling unsure if I was super nervous or was actually sick. I then ‘prayed to the porcelain gods’ (as my husband would say) a couple of times and had to lie down in her bed whilst her husband Bill organised for me to see their family doctor. Helene then drove me to the doctors and spent all day with me, looking after me like I was her best friend. We didn’t get to do any photography that day, but I sure got to know Helene very well. She’ll never forget that time an Aussie photographer came all the way to Charleston and ending up napping in her bed, (to put it nicely).

I must say that being sick in a foreign country, when you’re miles away from home is such a terrifying experience and one I haven’t been immune to. However, this was different. Helene and Bill looked after me like one of their own and I feel that I gained two friends from the experience which is even more priceless than you could imagine.

So all things aside, I managed to find some strength in the afternoon of the following day and we shot for 4 hours. Helene took me to dinner to meet Chef John Ondo that night before I left, Bill and Helene showed me around Charleston, (one of the most amazing places I have ever been to I might add), and got me to and from the airport safely. I even got to play with her puppies Bailey and Tiggy, who are just as playful as the pictures in her Instagram make out.

Shooting with Helene Dujardin. Two Loves Studio Rachel Korinek Helene Dujardin Food Photographer

Shooting with Helene Dujardin in those few hours we had on the second day, we shot some Salmon Tacos, Watercress, Pancetta + Goats Cheese Spaghetti and a Salt Crusted Fish. (Working on my goals of conquering savoury dishes this year!). I witnessed her in action, we styled together and she showed me how she uses light, both natural and mixed.

I got lost in her prop collection. It was so incredibly amazing to be able to touch those much loved props I have seen in her work over the years. It was surreal. We went through my portfolio together and she gave me insight into the freelance world in the US and her time as a senior photographer at a large publishing house. I also got a sneak peek into the progress of an upcoming book she is shooting, with a tear-sheet collage on one of the studio walls.

It probably sounds cliche, but Helene is even more sweet, talented and committed that you can imagine. She’ll give you the shirt off her back if you needed it more than her and she’ll definitely give you the keys to unlocking success within food photography if you are willing!

So if there was a moral to this story, I guess it would be to continue the journey you have set out for yourself and be ok with where it leads you and the set backs you will face. They may just turn into something that you never even imagined was possible – and that’s the beauty of life!

Shooting with Helene Dujardin. Two Loves Studio Rachel Korinek Helene Dujardin Food Photographer

Shooting with Helene Dujardin. Two Loves Studio Rachel Korinek Helene Dujardin Food Photographer

Shooting with Helene Dujardin. Two Loves Studio Rachel Korinek Helene Dujardin Food Photographer

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16 Comments

  • Reply Susan January 28, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    That’s such a great story! And how lucky for you that you got to work with Helene. And now you’re inspiring others – love how life works!

    • Reply Rachel January 31, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Susan! We do love a good story that is for sure. Life does work in strange ways. I feel very fortunate to have met Helene, even under the circumstances!

  • Reply MyCookingSecrets.com | Krystallia Giamouridou January 28, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Sorry to hear that you were sick during those days. At least spending time and photoshooting with Mrs Dujardin ”paid back” all this hassle. Now I am able to understand 100% that her personality is reflected to her images! Thank you for sharing this.

    • Reply Rachel January 31, 2016 at 11:20 am

      Thank you Krystallia. You sure are correct, it was a lovely ‘pay back’! Such a wonderful observation about her work. I think all true artists personalities are reflected in their work in some way. It was a pleasure to be able to witness her in action. Glad you enjoyed the story!

  • Reply Sini January 29, 2016 at 3:27 am

    Oh my… Well you sure had two unforgettable days with Helene! So sorry that you had to spent them by being sick most of the time. This is a good example of “life doesn’t always go as planned”. But hey, you still got to shoot with her and man do I love these pics you’ve made! xx

    • Reply Rachel January 31, 2016 at 11:23 am

      Thanks Sini! Yes it is a good reminder that life doesn’t always go as planned and sometimes things happen in ways you’d never imagine and end up being better than you could have thought. Something that I won’t every forget and such a personal experience. It is so interesting how our personalities and traits are reflected in our work, what we chose to shoot and the props we like and how we position them. Lovely to hear from you also, it’s been a while since we’ve connected.

  • Reply Lili January 29, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Maybe it didn’t go as planned but I’m sure you got as much as possible from those few hours together and it was still amazing experience to shoot with such a talented food photographer! Her book Plate to Pixel was the first thing I read when I dived into this beautiful world of food photography 3 years ago and I still go back to it every now and than. P.S. I’m glad I discovered your blog dear Rachel! 🙂

    • Reply Rachel January 31, 2016 at 11:25 am

      I sure did Lili! Like so many of us, we started out on Plate to Pixel and I couldn’t imagine where we would be with it. I heard that they weren’t reprinting it anymore and so it is harder to find. Quite sad really. Lovely to have you along for the journey. I could definitely use some of the those almond chocolate chip cookies you just posted about. Drool!

  • Reply Sarah and Laura @ Wandercooks February 1, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Well that is one adventure you won’t be forgetting quickly! I’m glad to hear all turned out well in the end and those photos (and food) look like they were definitely worth it. Plate to Pixel is an amazing book – just finished it last month. I can only imagine how amazing it would’ve been to meet Helene in person. Laura and I were actually in a old antique shop in Nagasaki collecting props yesterday and I was thinking about Helene’s collection – so good! xx

    • Reply Rachel February 2, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Me either guys! It certainly was nice to have a silver lining. So your just fresh out from reading Plate to Pixel and full of inspiration I’ll bet. I remember that feeling, I can still see the pages in my minds eye. I just love prop shopping, there is a bit of a knack to it and I find that I am always drawn to the same things, and I need to remind myself that I already have a piece just like that!

  • Reply Pang February 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Two of my favourite food photographers in the U.S.!!!! Those photos must turned out amazing, no doubt.
    As for the sick story, I think that is one ‘meet-cute’ you can tell the story for a long time. 🙂

    • Reply Rachel February 16, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      I sure will Pang! This one is a keeper.

  • Reply Marisa Franca @ All Our Way March 10, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    Oh my Gosh!! How terrible for you but the story reminds me so much of my own. Not about photography but returning to Italy and seeing my relatives — some I hadn’t seen in 60 years. Well, I prayed to the porcelain god practically the whole time. We arrived in Venice on one day, the following day my cousin and son came up from Trieste to take us to celebrate at a family dinner. I couldn’t eat a thing and most of the time I was in the bathroom. They took us back that evening and so that was my visit with family. Totally horrible!! I can’t wait to go back and hopefully I won’t have a stomach bug. I just gave you the short version of the adventure. They all were so sweet I wish I could have spent more time with them.

    • Reply Rachel March 11, 2016 at 8:54 am

      Oh Marisa, that sounds terrible. It does make for a good story after wards, but what a shame. I really hope you get back there sooner rather than later and have the vacation and time with family that you’d planned.

  • Reply Stacy Howell April 6, 2016 at 2:31 am

    I can’t imagine!! But it does make a great story. I also live in Charleston and from time to time pass Helen in the grocery store. I’ve been tempted to introduce myself, have never wanted to bother her…one day 🙂

    • Reply Rachel April 12, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Stacy, this is such an amazing story! I love that you pass her int he grocery store, how ordinary but extraordinary! Charleston is such a wonderful place, you’re super blessed to live there and call it home. You should totally introduce yourself. Maybe just even via email. You never know when she may need another photographer to work on a project with.

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