Friday, April 29, 2011

Food Friday #5

This was a test shoot with Lisa Russell. A very talented food/prop stylist 
in Philadelphia, Pa

She had a bunch of wood supplies she had been dieing to photograph, and I had the opportunity to shoot it with her. Great minds think alike and great results come with it! 

Interview to look forward in the Fridays ahead!

Monday, April 25, 2011

ASMP Bulletin, 01 Apr 2011. Page1

ASMP Bulletin
01 Apr 2011

Peanut Butter Rules!

Finally I got to taste the weirdest but greatest peanut butter sandwich(jelly was an option).

I heard of this sandwich shop briefly through main line Tweets, and discovered this little gold mine of a place in Wayne, PA. If anyone lives in or around Philadelphia this is a place you have to try. There’s only one and even though they just opened this past August I know it will take off.

This place is so different because there’s only one like it. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple food in any family household. If anything I’d be the first to take part in this idea and spread the joy. After the first anxiousness passed me I was able to analyze the place from a consumer point of view while taking snap shots with my camera. Would this place really succeed? Is the quality there? The atmosphere for kids and adults? Location?

Pros: The quality and options for peanut butter: There was 5 options for me which was plenty because they all looked good. Gluten free, chocolate peanut butter, chunky, all natural, and creamy. At first I wasn’t sure which one I wanted and the person behind the counter was super friendly and helpful asking me if I wanted to taste any first. In the end I chose the chunky peanut butter. To add to the fun atmosphere the quirky chalkboard menu had all the options for make your own and pre-made sandwiches clearly written. Being my first time there I went with a pre fixed option which was the peanut butter, honey, cinnamon sugar, raisins, and cream cheese sandwich. It was VERY good. I had it on wheat bread toast. Also the sandwiches came with a bag of cheddar Sun Chips, which was odd at first but worked :) Sat at one of the peanut shaped tables and chowed down!

Cons: The options for bread weren’t as extensive as I might of liked. Maybe throw in wraps? Or challah bread. I thought it was great how they really made the peanut butter shine and tie in its historical roots with facts on the wall, but I feel like the jelly part was left in the dust. I think they could elevate both sides of the spectrum and have some pre-fixed jelly sandwiches like they have for the peanut butter. It’s a great location for the shop but it’s a tease because there’s not one in the city. The only other thing that bothered me was the lack of comfortable seating. The idea behind the furniture was great but the chairs were hard wood on a hard cement floor. Adding some lounge seating wouldn’t be a bad idea.

That’s my review in a nutshell (peanut shell) I’ll be going back, and I encourage you to go too!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Food Friday #4

Nir Adar

1. Your site is very impressive because of your wide range of food you’ve styled. What is your favorite to style on a photo shoot? 
Thanks, happy you like it. I love challenges, I love collaborating with good photographers and my favorite kind of assignments are art projects involving food.

2. What did you get into first, styling in still photography or T.V.? 
I started with working on still photography, the transition to TV is a long one. TV require a totally different set of skills beyond just being a good food stylist. These days I work on both and love the mix.

3. You have a culinary background; where did you graduate from? Any degrees in styling? 
I studied in Switzerland and Israel, I worked as a chef in both places and had the opportunity to open several successful restaurants. I don’t believe you could graduate with a food styling degree, and if you could it wouldn’t be more than a good place to start.

4. How did you incorporate your fine art sculptures into your food sculptures? What came first?  
When I got to NY in 1990 I knew I wanted to be a food stylist, I had no clue where to start so I called a photographer friend of mine and asked him to photograph some art pieces I made of food. I fall in love with creating art work using food out of the plate. When I had three pieces I called Food Arts Magazine and arrange a meeting with the editor, I walked into the office and met the late Michael Batterbery the founder of food Arts Magazine. He fell in love with my work and commissioned me to work on several front covers and double spreads. Michael also introduce me to local photographer Peter Pioppo that gave me the opportunity to work of paid jobs. In my day to day work I try to bring the artistic vision and sense to every image, I believe that there are three important element to a great image. Composition, uniqueness and in our case appetite appeal. Each client pays us to work with his ingredients and ask us to creat a unique one of a kind piece of art (even when its only a burger). This is how approach my work on a daily base.

5. Ice cream is one of the harder foods to style because of it’s short life span under lights, what did you do to come up with such a unique recipe to help it last longer? 
Ice cream was the first food I worked on, Peter (photographer) specialized in shooting ice cream and I had the opportunity to observe. I came up with new techniques that allow me to hold ice cream for a longer period of time. One of the biggest secrets of a successful food stylist is having the ability to improvise, invent and be open to new ideas. Every day we are challenged with new problems, client concerns, time restriction or equipment malfunctions. The ability to solve problems is crucial.

6. Do you see yourself getting more work through photographers or art directors? 
There are several stages in a food stylist career, in each stage calls might come from different sources. Initially most calls come from the photographer who likes working with you, as you establish yourself calls will start coming from the agency as they start looking for you to maintain the look or create a new for their campaigns not necessary using the same photographer you started working with. As you establish and prove yourself to the client as the person who best understand their food you will be getting calls directly from clients as they would try to ensure they have you on set for their next project even before the agency knows of shooting days. I love having the mix of the three.  

7. Any current personal projects you are working on? 
Couple, I’m starting to put together a concept for a new book, I’m working very hard on bringing my Crispycones product to market.

8. Do you primarily work in New York or do you travel a lot for shoots? 
Most of my work these days is out of NY, I travel half my time for TV shoots in LA, Dallas as well as other places and I do work a lot in Philadelphia your home town. I love to travel.

9. Would you ever consider opening a restaurant?  
Good question. I still LOVE cooking and I dream of opening a small place with 12-20 seats that I could cook my food and have guest stay over night as a part of the experience of hosting and making guest feel at home.

10. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Haagen Dazs Vanilla ice cream and Ciao Bella Blackberry Cabernet sorbet

Friday, April 15, 2011

Food Friday #3

1. How much do you LOVE NY? :)
I think of NY as an old friend that I share many secrets with. NYC is my "home town". I grew up on the Upper East Side and would not trade that experience for anything. I LOVE NYers, NYC and all the special "finds" there that only real NYers really know about.

2. Do you ever travel for shoots? If so where is the farthest you’ve gone?
I travel often for my work, being that I'm based out of NYC as well as Boulder, Colorado. I think Spain is probably the farthest I have physically traveled for work, although my shoot in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere in Tulum seemed much farther away!

3. Did you ever have a dream or another direction you wanted to go for as an occupation?
I've always been an artist, so I think I knew early on that I would be in a creative "out of the box" career, and not become a typical 9 to 5 worker bee. When I was in school studying film production and working in NYC as a freelance production assistant, I thought I might want to be a commercial director that specialized in children, like Harry Hamburg, who I really liked to watch direct kids (he used to bribe them with cash, which I thought was brilliant!). When I was a kid growing up in NYC I had dreams of being a mounted police officer there (so I could ride a horse down the street) or a Jane Goodall type zoologist - any career that involved horses and /or animals of any kind.

4. How long have you been teaching students to style food?
I've been teaching private, hands-on food styling classes to serious students since 1998, when I first launched my website and got besieged with questions from people all over the world who wanted to learn the art of food styling but had no resource or opportunity available to them where they were located. Since then I have trained and mentored many successful food stylists who otherwise would not have been able to do the kind of work they are now capable of producing.

5. What was the oddest dish/food you had to style?
Hard to say exactly, but probably an 8 foot high special fx rig of a stack of Eggo's mini waffles, precisely oozing with various toppings and fillings. It was being filmed as the rig rotated 360 degrees and moved up and down. The toppings and drips had to all stay still in their exact place, while still visually appearing in an appetizing, loose and "natural" way. I don't like being on ladders at all, so that shoot was a personal as well as professional challenge. Very early on in my career I also styled Gravy Train dog food... With over 2 decades working as a food stylist I'm sure I've forgotten many other odd shoots along the way.

6. Where do you go for your inspirations? Are you able to incorporate them into your styling?
Personally I am inspired by many things - my incredibly talented family and friends, fine arts, photography, music, nature, traveling and generally living by / exploring the unbeaten path. I'm sure the people and things that inspire me in my personal life do have a positive effect on my work, but since the end results you see are based on a very large collaborative effort, I'm usually inspired while I'm "in the moment" on set - when my energy and creativity are in sync with those of the other people I'm shooting with.

7. Other than photographers, do you find food styling a needed service elsewhere?
Food styling is needed in motion environments (commercials, feature films, live broadcasts, industrial) as well as for stills. I have also consulted with several groups of Junior League ladies who wanted help with unique presentation ideas, but I think generally food styling is a highly specialized niche filling a very narrow need / field.

8. Who was the biggest client you’ve worked with?
Over the years I've worked with almost all of the largest multi-national food companies and restaurant chains you can think of, either styling for tv commercials, packaging, menus or print advertising. I've also worked with acclaimed chefs, renowned directors, famous photographers and even an Academy Award winning cinematographer. I've fed Jello Pudding to Bill Cosby, Pillsbury Bread Sticks to Matt LeBlanc (before Friends) and McDonald's hamburgers to Jason Alexander (before Seinfeld).

9. Any dream client you hope to style for one day?
If and when Bob Weir decides to mass produce and market his home made salsa, then that will be my dream client right there - are you listening boys? More realistically I'm hoping that Jeff & Sue Gross will involve me with their new product line, when it's ready. If anyone out there wants me to work in an amazingly remote beautiful location, like somewhere in New Zealand or Madagascar, then you might just wind up being my new dream client.

10. Your favorite food?
I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you...

Photo Credit: Teri Campbell

Friday, April 8, 2011

Food Friday #2

Sienna DeGovia

1. I read in your bio you have an Italian background along with a artistic father. Do you feel it was your calling to combine those two worlds and create a living out of food styling?

I believe I was destined to make art out of food because of my Italian background and my artist father.  I inherited my Father's artistic eye.  I am keenly aware of the visual realm and I feel it intuitively when something does not "look right."  I apply this  sense to my work as a food stylist when composing a shot or creating a dish.  The Italians are all on my Mother's side and from them I learned that food is more than mere sustenance.  I still have my grandmother's recipe box and on nearly every card she has notes about the people and events she was preparing that particular dish for.  Food is love in my family.  I just feel lucky that I found a career that so perfectly combines these two great forces I was raised with.  

2. Did you ever have a dream or another direction you wanted to go for as a occupation?  
I was a touring musician in a rock band for 8 years.  If that had been extremely successful I might have given up food styling completely, but I got tired of living in a van!  My styling work supported my Rock n Roll habit because I was able to work for six months as a stylist and take off for the the rest of the year.  I also have a BFA in sculpture.  I still make art and am having my first large exhibition (a collaboration with my Dad) this December at gallery KM in Santa Monica.  I have always gravitated towards the creative freelance lifestyle.

3. What was the oddest dish/food you had to style?

I once built a pirate ship out of deli meats and bacon.  It was for a fine art collaboration with Photographer Teri Lynn Fisher.  I couldn't eat bacon for months after that!

4. Do you think it’s easier or harder to style a cocktail? Why?

I think drinks are a piece of cake.  There are some real drink gurus out there who take it to a much higher level, but for the work I do, a drink is often much simpler to style than food.  I worked on a Nescafe commercial once with the Yoda of beverage styling.  This guy spends his free time hand carving artificial ice cubes, he finds it relaxing!  He has a secret formula for edible foam that he won't share with anyone.  He comes at beverage styling with a special effects background, so it's far more technical and engineered than a typical drink shoot.

5. Do you feel you’ve learned the most with experience on-set or by reading books about styling?

I have definitely learned everything I know from watching others and doing my own on-set experimentation.  I had a couple of great mentors early on, and I took the time to assist for three years before I ever attempted my own lead styling.  I learned so much from watching them, it was a real education.  The ability to think on your feet and problem solve is what makes a good stylist great.  That is something you gain with on set experience, it can't be learned from any book.

6. Where do you go for your inspirations? Are you able to incorporate them into your styling?

There is no shortage of amazing food photography out there.  Donna Hay and Martha Stewart are always fun to look at for the ultimate beauty food shots.  I like the edgier food styling in Sauveur.  For my own personal art work that involves food I draw inspiration from many different sources.  I am currently working on a series called Food Crime with Photographer Renee Anjanette.  For that series I looked at a lot of old evidence photos and the work of 30's era street photographer Weegee.

7. Other than photographers, do you find food styling a needed service elsewhere?

I think food styling, like many other art forms, is often disregarded as an extravagance.  It seems unnecessary but it is ubiquitous in our every day lives.  We are aesthetic beings that respond to beauty, even in the mundane act of eating.  So yes, I believe beautiful or well thought out food presentation is needed every day.  Without it we would all be eating astronaut ice cream.

8. Who was the biggest client you’ve worked with?

I have worked with many national and international brands from Ball Park Franks to McDonald's.  I have also done some styling work on films which is a whole other dimension of "big."  There is a lot of pressure on a big production like that. You want to make sure that no one is ever waiting for food.

9. Any dream client you hope to style for one day?

I hope there is someone out there who is willing to take some risks with their product and allow me to really get creative with it.  I would love to make an edible outfit for Lady GaGa sponsored by the Wheat Council or something like that!

10. Is social media a marketing tool your business is using well? Were you ahead of the trend? (Twitter, Facebook)

I was definitely slow to jump on the social media band wagon.  I am just now getting the hang of twitter and the like.  I am having fun using my blog as a sort of stream of consciousness sketch/scrap book for projects I'm working on.   Whether or not anyone else in interested in looking at it is another question entirely!

11. Your favorite food?

Dessert in all it's forms.  Mostly pie.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Making A Splash!

Planning test shoots are very key to keeping a updated portfolio. You can’t depend on your jobs alone especially with the slow market. It’s also great practice for yourself and gives you a opportunity to try new things.

This past test shoot was influenced by Andrew Scrivani, who is the food photographer for the New York Times. He has a great blog Making Sunday Sauce which I recommend subscribing to if you like food as much as me :)

I love to challenge myself and one shot I feel you can always improve on is the “splash.” Andrew had a post not too long ago showcasing one of his wine splash shots that I fell in love with. It was a different approach that I haven’t tried and I wanted to create it from my perspective. Along with the splash shot I also shot a couple other things on my never ending list for test shoots; strawberries, milk bottle, chocolate... (list goes on)

I search for inspirations on various websites and publications that help me create ideas for things to shoot. This is also never ending because there’s always a new trend or food.

You can visit my website to see some of my new work:

Follow me on Twitter for the most instant photo updates:


Here’s a link to Andrew’s Blog:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Food Friday

Illanique van Aswegen

Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

I am from sunny Cape Town, South Africa. It is a beautiful city with the best of both worlds. It is city on the coastline. I was born and still live in the suburbs just 15 km out of the main city which is ideal as I’m close to work but also far enough to not get stuck in the hustle and bustle of the city life. By far the best and most beautiful city in South Africa :)

Being so young how did you find a interest/niche in food styling?

I come from a family that is always cooking - never too little time to cook up a divine meal. We just love cooking and eating. I was lucky enough to get an interest in food styling while I was still in school. Even back then I loved magazines and drooled over delicious food images, instead of the fashion images like everyone else. I changed schools as soon as I heard of a high school close to us who offered cheffing as a subject together with all the usual subjects. Best decision ever! My passion and love for cooking grew and lead me to study cheffing for 3 years at university. I chose that specific chef school as it offered a specialization year to study media communications which included food styling, food photography and food writing. So I was in heaven! I was able to work for  one of the best food stylists in Cape Town after I worked at her restaurant during my practical placement at chef school. I owe her everything I know today and she has inspired me to stay authentic and respect the produce for what it is. She has made me love the industry even more - I cannot imagine another industry that would be more suited for me.

Where are your inspirations?

I get inspired by nearly anything I see, like interior decor, nature, art, music videos, movies, scrap yards. You name it and I can see it as food on a plate :) I often see plates / crockery etc and only then can i imagine what food it needs to hold. I love beautiful, natural-looking food images that makes you want to go grab it off the page and share with your loved ones.

Do you have any formal education in arts?

I qualified in 3 years of Culinary Arts and Food Media.

Is it hard to make a living as a food stylist? Do you have another source of income related to food?

Yes it is a hard industry to get into. You need to have natural talent; an eye for detail and esthetical beauty and it is all about who you know in the industry. It is difficult because many stylists start off as freelance stylists which mean you don’t have a monthly steady income, no medical / pension benefits etc. So you need to work extremely hard to ensure you maintain your desired lifestyle.

Did you ever have a dream or another direction you wanted to go for as an occupation?

Yes I did. As a little girl I wanted to be a teacher and it later turned into me wanting to be a pre-school teacher or child psychologist. In the end I had to choose between me two passions, food and children, and food won!

What was the oddest dish/food you had to style?

I have styled tons of things that has made me think I'm totally crazy for spending hours on it, like the perfect smear of curry paste - not too much, not too little, splashes of milk coming out of a glass or even some muesli flakes on a spoon - each one placed meticulously with a tweezer. But the oddest thing has to be wet washing shot through a washing machine door!

Other than photographers, do you find food styling a needed service elsewhere?

I have been asked to style food at functions, weddings and decor-related seminars. It is all about making it look as beautiful as it tastes. To lure people into buying or eating your food.

Any dream client you hope to style for one day?

Not a client, but for another stylist. My dream stylist to work for has to be Donna Hay. I adore her books, creativity, food and business skills. If I can one day achieve to be only 1 percent as successful as her, I would die happy :)

 Is social media a marketing tool your business is using well? Were you ahead of the trend? (Twitter, Facebook)

I haven’t applied social media to my job yet. But I know it is definitely a tool to consider going forward.

 Your favorite food?

My favorite food to eat - warm freshly baked bread with butter, and tapas that are relaxed easy food served in bowls and sent around the table.

My favorite food to shoot

Veggies, salads, cheeses and desserts.

Food Friday!

I've wanted to start expanding my topics I cover on my blog so I thought having a "Food Friday" would be a good way to ease into it.. I'm going to start featuring food stylists on Fridays from all over. Seeing how this unfolds I might like to feature other people that are related to the food industry; for example dietitians, chefs... etc.

I'm still figuring out how many Fridays in a given month I will be featuring someone, but the more the better! :) So if you or someone you know is in the food industry that has something to share please send them my way.

To introduce my First Friday doing this I'm featuring a young ambitious girl, like myself who is a food stylist. I conducted a informal interview with her going through her experience and daily grind. Enjoy!