I don’t like big productions of any sort. I hate being surrounded by people with strange titles (Production Coordinator’s Second Assistant etc. etc.). Even simple photo-shoots can be hard work, with Photographer’s Assistants, Set and Prop Designers, Food Stylists and Cookery Consultants all getting under each and everyone’s feet. BUT having just attempted to photograph strawberry jam and somehow convey just a hint of its fragrant deliciousness to you, the readers of this at times intemperate blog, I must freely confess, I could have used a few Food Stylists and their able young Assistants. Jam is impossible to photograph. End of. Light is reflected from all of its surfaces. And of course you can’t photograph or film smell (who wants HD when one day we’ll be treated to Smellyvision??? But I digress…).
Three days ago I was just starting to pick strawberries when I lifted up a leaf and suddenly realised that this was the season’s BIG ONE: there were plump, fully ripe strawberries in abundance. And it was also threatening to rain, which would have wrecked everything. So I picked like a maniac for 45 minutes and the result is the first photo. I suppose I could have used a proper photographer’s black-and-white bar scale, but somehow it seemed inappropriate. So I used objects that might be familiar to readers of this blog (the Pimms bottle will probably be the best-known to many of you).
Then I took a picture of Maisie gamely picking-over the fruit and removing stalks. Next she magicked the crop into half a dozen jars of conserve (more fruit, less sugar, but with a shorter shelf-life) and a dozen 1 lb. jars of jam. The conserve began to set after just 10 minutes of boiling, whereas the jam took over an hour – hence my anguished Tweet, for those of you who follow such things.
And then, finally, there’s that picture of jam in a pot. I know it doesn’t work, but it’s a question of credibility. If I didn’t post it here in this blog, hundreds of you might think that all this talk about jam-making was phoney; that nothing was made; that we just pigged-out on strawberries and cream; maybe we stripped naked and rubbed them onto our bodies, while we writhed pleasurably on the lawn…No, sorry, that’s going a bit far.
So I took the photo to prove that we were sober, responsible, jam-making citizens, like anyone else out there. And then suddenly it struck me: how do my blog followers know that it’s our jam and that we made it? We could have simply spooned out a jar of Tiptree’s finest Strawberry Conserve? Oh, bloody Hell: is nothing ever simple in this life?
I’ve suddenly lost the will to live…