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grilling vegetables at the park | food photography challenge

In January I joined up with an inspirational group of photographers to follow through with a monthly challenge for food photography. Each month we are all shooting the same type of food for the challenge then posting a blog circle so that readers can click all the way through to see them all.

This month the theme was barbeque. Since I am from Texas you would think this month would have come easy for me. But, being a vegetarian most of my life means that I didn’t spend a whole lot of time eating that barbeque that Texas is known for although I have great memories of eating with friends and family at places like The Salt Lick.

It was even more exciting this month because I had plans to meet up with some of the other food photographer and stylists from the group who live right here in Southern California including Kim, Laurie, and Valeria.

We planned to meet up at the beautiful Aliso Creek Beach which has these great fire pits right in the sand. I had gone beforehand to stake out which fire pit would make the best backdrop for our groups cooking and food styling photography. Unfortunately because it is summertime the pits were already taken the morning of our shoot.

All worked out when we moved the shoot to Laguna Niguel Regional Park. We set up all our gear, food, and props then got busy trying to light the fire. This process took all of us and finally we found success.

grilling vegetables at the park



The night before the shoot I had picked up a grilling basket from Target for the vegetables since I knew we were cooking over an open fire pit. I was still glad to have the basket for the grill we used at the park. I don’t think the grill lines came out quite how I wanted but at least it made it easy to hold them over the fire for cooking. I used a herb mix from Giada DeLorenzo that I found to give the veggies a good flavor after grilling.

grilling vegetables at the park

grilling vegetables at the park


grilled vegetables with olive oil dressing


The other vegetable I wanted to throw on the grill was lettuce. I know it sounds crazy. What is better on a hot summer day than a nice cool crisp salad? How about a nice crisp grilled salad? I was super excited about this one. Turns out that the grilled lettuce made a really tasty salad. I pulled off some of the leaves that got super charred then chopped the lettuce. I added some tomatoes, shaved parmesan cheese, and dressing. So good. You should try it & let me know what you think!

grilling lettuce at the park

grilled lettuce salad

Then right before sitting down to eat, I grabbed a nice cold soda that had been sitting in the bucket of ice, cracked it open and poured it into one of the super cute plastic but looks like glass glasses I picked up at Target.

ice cold soda in galvanized bin

I feel like I faced some challenges with this shoot and I thought of some tips that helped me overcome them, have a great day, and end up with a yummy lunch including photos to prove I grilled!  What are some of the challenges you face when grilling and how do you overcome them?

Three things I learned from this shoot were:

1. It is important to have a plan but it is more important to remain flexible when that plan doesn’t fall into place like you thought it would.
2. If you are shooting in the middle of the day it is always a safe bet to find an evenly shaded area to help avoid dappled lighting in the photo (unless you want to use the dappled light to enhance the mood of your photos).  If you have a large umbrella you can even set up under the umbrella to get that nice even lighting.
3. If you cannot find shade then be aware of where the sun is and watch for blowing out the highlights in the brighter areas of the photo.

It is such a perfect time to get outside and get grilling so make sure to visit Tammy Bilodeau, Whitecourt AB Photographer next to see what she has been cooking up and styling!

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  • […] circle to see what everyone came up with for their BBQ/Grilling dishes this month.  Next up is  Allison Jacobs of Allison Jacobs Photography and I can’t wait to see what she […]ReplyCancel

  • What a fabulous post Allison! The awesome images made me feel I was right there with you all. What fun you had! All the food looks delicious – and I love that you grilled vegetables and lettuce. Seeing the grill and the fire really added a whole level of the actual bbq experience, too.ReplyCancel

    • Thanks Stacey! It was really fun to meet and hang out with a few of the other girls from our group!ReplyCancel

  • Wow, you did a fabulous job with these out in the open sun! Love, love the ones on the grill. I’m so jealous you live near enough to some others in our group to meet up to do one of our challenges. Such fun!!ReplyCancel

    • Thanks Kay! The mid day sun can be a challenge but we were able to find a few shady areas then moved the table around as the sun moved. We just couldn’t move the grill so all of those were shot with full on sun!ReplyCancel

  • I just love your angles and how you caught the fire here. The colors of your veggies are stunning. Great job and so glad you got to meet up with the others.ReplyCancel

    • Thanks Kat! One thing I love about shooting on a sunny day are those colors you can get SOOC!ReplyCancel

  • Allison, I LOVE your fire images. Seriously, those are just fabulous!!! and yes, the baskets make handling veggies so much easier. I wonder if you could ‘preheat’ the basket before putting the vegetables in, to make the grill marks prettier? I’m so curious to try grilled lettuce, as well. I recently watched an episode of… That Food Network show with Richard Irving where he transforms failing restaurants. And he BERATED a restaurant for serving a grilled caesar salad… and I wondered what on earth, because I think it has become pretty popular and I’m dying to try it out! anyway, you’ve inspired me to try it really soon!ReplyCancel

    • Thanks Carey! I think if I was using a grill in my own backyard I would have just put the lettuce right on the grill but since this was a public grill at the park, well, I just didn’t want to cook right off the grill! 🙂 Let me know if you decide to grill lettuce (and be sure to take pics).ReplyCancel

  • Allison, utterly gorgeous. I’m totally blown away that you shot these in all that bright sunshine. The colors are outstanding. That peppers shot is just beautiful and I love love love the fire shot. Fantastic work!ReplyCancel

    • Thanks Tiffany! I had a lot of fun shooting the fire pit since that is so different from what I usually shoot!ReplyCancel

  • Amy

    I have been grilling romaine for a while. Totally delicious. I actually cut mine in half, spray with olive oil, then grill. I have never had a complaint from anyone who ate it – only requests for the recipe. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Thanks for the tips Amy! I also added olive oil before putting it on the grill. I was really excited to see how it would taste and then even more excited that it was great!ReplyCancel

  • Wow, I’d never thought about grilling lettuce before – I’m definitely intrigued! Love that device you have there to grill vegetables, never seen anything like that before either (most of the barbeques I go to, we only barbeque meat and the sides are always salads). Love the way you put together the tray with coloured BBQ vegetables – so many colours melding together harmoniously 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Thank you Sabrina! The grilled lettuce was my favorite part. I will be doing it again for sure!ReplyCancel

  • Your photo’s came out soo beautiful Allison!! And it was wonderful spending this time with you, Valeria and Kim! Next time. how about a restaurant shoot? 🙂 I was so impressed with your grilled romaine.. that I searched out recipes for a yummy meal. I found a recipe for a grilled caesar salad from the WW web site. It sounds so yummy! I pinned it if your looking for more things to do with BBQ’d Romaine! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • It was wonderful to meet you & shoot with you too Laurie! You are a gifted cook and I haven’t stopped thinking about that wonderful salad you made too!ReplyCancel

  • Tammy Bilodeau

    Love these! Your pictures are beautiful…as always. I love the idea of grillin’ all those veggies, they look so yummy. I also think it’s important to be flexible and kinda go with the flow sometimes, we don’t always end up with a product exactly like we had envisioned, but that’s OK. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Allison, what a pleasure it was to meet you that day! And what amazing photos you took away from the shoot. Your 3 things to remember are spot on. And though I took many similar shots, not one of mine turned out as nicely as yours! Well done!
    And thanks for doing so much shopping for us!ReplyCancel


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