How did you get started as a food photographer?
I started shooting professionally over 20 years ago. I shot small jobs through college, got my BFA in fine art photography from Cornish College of the Arts, and then created a business shooting weddings and portraits for well over a decade.
While I loved my work for many years, I knew that the wedding industry did not satisfy my passion. I began shooting for restaurants and catering companies and found that I enjoyed not only shooting food, but also telling the story of the businesses owners, the employees and the “behind the scenes” of a business. In 2009, I was hired to document a small dairy farm over the course of a year. It was that project that changed everything for me and combined so many things I love— telling a story through images by documenting the people, landscape, seasons and animals that are part of the process in bringing food to our tables.
Shortly after that project, I left the wedding industry for good, re-branded my business and pursued food photography full time.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There is no typical day for me. Some days I am on location, shooting at a restaurant or on a farm. Other days I am in my studio, working on a project with my food stylist. The projects are always different, and I love the diversity.
What kind of equipment do you use?
I shoot with a Canon Mark II. My favorite lenses include the 24-70mm 2.8L, 85mm 1.2L and the 100mm macro 2.8L. I am also a big fan of the 90mm tilt-shift.
Who inspires you?
Well, in the photography world, I am a HUGE fan of Sally Mann. Her portraits and moody landscapes make me swoon. I think she’s a genius.
Honestly, though, I feel most inspired by non-photography-related things: music, the beach, the woods in the Pacific Northwest, early evening light on a sunny day, good books, my incredible circle of women friends, my kind and hilarious husband and my beautiful son.
Are there other food photographers who influence your work?
Oh my gosh, there are SO many incredible and talented food photographers out there. I am sure I am influenced by many of them, in some way or another.
However, I really limit the amount of time I spend looking at other people’s work. While I think it’s definitely valuable to be aware of the work of others in your industry, I also feel it can be detrimental to spend too much time comparing what you do to what someone else does.
This quote by Danny Thomas to his daughter Marlo really resonates with me: “I raised you to be a thoroughbred. When thoroughbreds run, they wear blinders to keep their eyes focused straight ahead with no distractions, no other horses. They hear the crowd, but they don’t listen. They just run their own race. That’s what you have to do. Don’t listen to anyone comparing you to me or to anyone else. You just run your own race.”
What advice do you have for someone starting out in the industry?
Practice a lot, trust yourself, develop your business and people skills, and don’t take criticism personally, (yes, I know— that’s easier said than done.)
Oh, and DO NOT work for free! It devalues your work and the entire photography industry.
Will you review my portfolio?
Unfortunately, between working full time and being a mom, I simply do not have time to review people’s work.
Can you give me advice about how to shoot a particular job?
I’m sorry, no. Did you see the part about working full-time and being a mom to a little person? :)
My time is really limited and when I am not working, I want to be off my computer, spending time with my family.
However, I teach a number of workshops about food photography and I am more than happy to answer any and all of your questions if you attend one. I’m very honest, straightforward and open with my students.
Can I intern/assist for you?
I currently have an assistant and I am no longer taking on interns. However, things change all the time so feel free to stay in touch!
What is your idea of the perfect project?
Any time I can really tell a story is the perfect project for me. I love shooting on location, I love documenting people doing what they do best, I love showing where food comes from.