I recently enjoyed following Chris Douglass around for a few days as he prepared a Pig Roast for the Ashmont Grill in Dorchester.

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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!

Happy Valentine’s

February 13, 2012

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

Well, since this is going to be a series, I decided I better get organized.  Here’s a list of topics – it will probably change as we go.  I hope this will be useful not only to interested amateurs and  professionals, but also those who use food photography in their work.  Some people will find this too basic, others too advanced, I know.

  • What makes a shot mouth-watering? The “Yum” factor
  • Styles of photography – Visual language – composition etc
  • Equipment – in the kitchen
  • Equipment – photo and lighting gear
  • Practical working methods
  • Use of props surfaces and backgrounds
  • Thinking and working digitally
  • Lighting
  • Specific camera info – hardware etc.
  • Software – cropping and sizing for the web

Here’s a commercial shot I did for Dunkin’ Donuts.  Does it have the “Yum” factor for you?  Let’s discuss.

OK, I lied.  Back in September I said I’d start a string of posts on food photography, and here it’s already November, and — nothing!  Sorry.  Anyway, here we go. We’ll do myths, tips, and FAQ’s on food photography, and I’ll include various images that may be interesting even if they’re unrelated.

When I meet someone new and they ask what I do, I often have a feeling of dread because I pretty much know what’s going to happen.  Oh, you shoot food? Do you use mashed potatoes for ice cream?  Tell me about those hot lights!  And what about all that varnish you put on the turkey? etc., etc.

If you’re reading this you probably already know these are popular misconceptions.  And they’re so persistent!  So in this first post of my series, let’s start by emphasizing the word natural.  These sweet and white potato fries are real, and we ate them soon after they were shot.  They were photographed with natural light, coming in from a window.  This kind of light has an “open” quality and doesn’t call attention to itself (as in: gee, how did he light that?).  The food is the main attraction, the only attraction.

More coming, so please stay tuned.

Coming next week

September 16, 2010

Hey there – next week I’m going to take a break from my current “photo of the day” format and talk about food photography.  The myths, the FAQ’s, what you need to know before a shoot, how to get the most out of your shoot, popular misconceptions, etc.  Let me know your concerns and questions and I will try to address them.  See you Monday!

On the beach

September 9, 2010

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”


Bruno Debas of the PhotoInstitute, a photo education site, recently did a 30-minute podcast interview with me.  I found myself talking about my philosophy and approach to food photography, as well as my beginnings.  I hope some of you find it interesting.  Here’s an extract:

The success of a picture is when it makes you hungry.  To make you say, Wow, I really want to eat that!  But beyond that if you could take one step back, you could admire the photograph from an aesthetic point of view, and you could say, that’s as beautiful as a painting — that would be a secondary success.  When you think about a food photograph, and how do you make it cause a visceral reaction in the other person, what you’re really saying is, I have a two-dimensional piece of paper  (the photograph)  and how am I going to make those things happen in the viewer?  Smell and taste are not possible, and motion is not possible.  So what it really comes down to, the things the food photographer needs to bring out in the subject in order to make this food tantalizing, and something you would crave, those things are an intimacy, which means getting in close, like you’re right there.  Those things are seeing moistness, a little bit of glisten.  Seeing texture, which is why we almost always use some form of back-lighting. And occasionally you get the sense of motion that’s not really happening, but it’s almost happening, like a drip of something that’s about to drip off.  And then color.  So if you do an exercise with yourself, and ask what can I do on this little piece of paper that will make people look at it and get hungry, it really comes down to just those few things, what we just talked about.  If you think about all those things, I think you will get a good picture.

To listen to the whole interview, go to the Podcast.  Can you tell I had a cold that day? 🙂

Chocolate Nutcake


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.