In between busy shoot days; Jim has been gearing up for an amazing adventure cycling below sea level in Death Valley, CA.

Jim’s bike was shipped last week and is waiting for him in Nevada. Cycling through this intriguing and mystic landscape he will cover 267 miles in 5 days of riding.  Along the way, the course will wind and dive from high elevations of +11,049 to extreme low points of -282 miles below sea level…. the lowest point in North America!
 They say the moonlight dances across the stark desert canvas and the milky way looks so close you could touch it.
 Here is an interactive map, Jim created highlighting the route:   DeathValley Trip   
We’ll do our best to keep you updated along the way!
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Happy Valentine’s

February 13, 2012

An animated treat from our heart to yours.  Click and enjoy!

Stylists on the set

January 13, 2011

Getting to YUM, part 2

December 1, 2010

So now that we’ve figured out some of the things that give us that appetite appeal, take a look at these two very different pictures from separate stories in the current issue of Saveur, just a few pages apart.

The top image is admittedly tame, possibly a bit “old school” in its approach because of its subject, use of a human element, vantage point and color palette.  The bottom image is  an example of a new trend: overhead angle, unusual colors, smears on the surface.  Um, what is it?

I think the first image is pretty, but conventional.  In the second image I think the photographer is trying to create art by using food as the medium.  There’s a certain shock value in the image – the blue highlights, and the very clear showing of what appears to be fat, or gristle.  Fashion photography uses shock in a similar way.

Hmmm … what do you think?

Getting that YUM factor

November 15, 2010

Try this exercise:  close your eyes and imagine something really really delicious, something that makes you crave.  Write down the specific attributes of that mental image.  Then cross out everything on your list that relies on senses other than sight.  Whatever you finally come up with, those are the things a food photographer has to work with in making an effective image.

What’s on your list?  I came up with color, texture, glisten, moisture, and so on.  Those are the obvious ones, but there are others.  Point of view (where is your eye?), scale (how close are you?), composition (does your eye know where to look?).  What about implied motion – like a drop about to fall, or anything just on the verge of happening. Light itself can sometimes imply motion.  Let’s go on … what else is on the list?  Mood, which is a broad term, can definitely affect whether something is mouth-watering.  Mood comes from a combination of lighting, camera point of view, color, and surroundings, surfaces, and props.  And of course, there is styling.  The presentation of the food, often done by a food stylist,  is a huge factor in appetite appeal.  Think of a muffin whole, compared to a muffin broken open with butter melting and some crumbs on the plate.  This line of thought leads to lots of new things for our list … seeing inside something, seeing the bits and ingredients, and presenting a plate with the invitation to dig in.

Here’s yet another aspect of getting appetite appeal — authenticity.  Does what you’re looking at look fake?  Does it look too perfect?  Is it a Disney world simulation of some “ideal”?  These are all unappetizing. Looking real means seeing the imperfections, the personality, and celebrating the fact that a dish looks different every time it comes out of the oven.

No picture this time.  More coming!

We had a little celebration here in the studio yesterday during a break in our shoot for Dunkin’ Donuts. Art director Neil Martin of Hill Holliday had just had his second child, a cute little girl named Lila, and yesterday was his 3rd day back at work. Food stylist Sunny Ricks had just had her first, a sweetie named Ronin, and yesterday was her first day back since the birth. Luckily, Grandma Ricks was at home taking care of Lila! So it was the perfect time to celebrate, and prop stylist Verne Cordova went waaaaay overboard helping with the festivities. Here’s our group, shot by Randall Garnick:

Neil and Sunny

Verne made the “Diaper Cakes”


I’ve been thinking about what the end of Gourmet means for us food photographers.  We’ll surely continue to have our commercial work.  But who will be around to celebrate the quiet beauty of, for example, this quince which appeared on a recent cover?

gourmet-cover-september-2009-small1

Today’s Boston Globe featured a piece about Gourmet on their editorial page.  The Globe has been very kind to me over the years, but the editorial reminded me of the saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  Take a look at http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2009/10/07/gourmet_magazine_1941_2009_a_recipe_for_obsolescence/

We know that whatever sells is bound to survive.  As photographers and stylists, let’s also remember that quince and do our share to keep art alive.

Hi – Today I wanted to talk about stylists. Food stylists, mostly, but also prop stylists. I look at the stylist as my main collaborator during the shoot. Without them, unless I’m doing an ingredient shot, I can do very little. Here we treat our stylists with gentle loving care, knowing that the better they work, the better we look! So my advice to any client or photographer is to get the best stylist available for the project. Anyway, here are snaps of just a few of the talented food stylists we’ve had in the studio recently.

John Carafoli (top left), Catrine Kelty (top right), George Simons (below left), Nice (“nee-cee”) Minor (below right).