Sexy Food: Penny De Los Santos

Photo: Linda Miller Nicholson

An on-line workshop that teaches how to photograph food — and so much more!

Four days and five showers later, I can’t get the campfire smell out of my hair. And I love it! Last weekend I had the honor of participating in a three-day, live streaming photography class taught by the inimitable Penny De Los Santos, senior contributing photographer at Saveur magazine. The course was put on by local company Creative Live and over 200,000 people tuned in.

Photo: Linda Miller Nicholson

Penny guided viewers through the art of making beautiful pictures of food and the culture surrounding it, but the class was about more than just watching a genius photographer in action. The real takeaway of the three days is to follow your bliss. Penny asked us, “if you’re not doing what you love, why not?” and 200,000 people reevaluated their lives with a few simple words.

My role in the workshop was that of oyster-roaster, alongside seafood pioneer Jon Rowley and his partner in crime, Dave Smead. Jon and Dave are seasoned pros at setting up an oyster roast, which consists of steaming oysters under wet burlap sacks set upon a 10-ft long wood-fired grill. It makes for some sexy food shots, of which Penny and her six lucky live participating students took full advantage. It also makes for a hot, smoky fire, which felt great under the canopy of a rainy Seattle sky and left me with a lingering campfire smell souvenir.

We roasted oysters and the largest stalks of asparagus I have ever seen, straight out of Dave’s organic garden. Penny made pictures and taught keen viewers how to capture the culture of food, all beneath rain-drenched sky in a downtown Seattle alley. The experience was beyond comparison — an “oyster moment” in the most visceral way.

While this is a departure from “sexy food” in the literal sense, I have never been so turned on in the very core of my soul. Like my fellow 200k live streamers, I fell very much in love with Penny last weekend. It is so inspiring to witness someone clearly doing what they are meant to do. She is following her bliss and turning it into a viable, satisfying career. This sort of triumph makes the world a better place.

The workshop is available to watch online by going to the Creative Live website. It’s worth a look, whether you want to be a better photographer or just a better version of yourself.