Friday, May 27, 2011

Food Friday #8

Ana Kelly

1. How did you get into styling?

I come from a French/Brazilian/Italian background. I’am currently living in Pittsburgh. I graduated with a marketing degree. Had a bunch of jobs, for example Filipacchi Hachette Publishing, Euro Disney. My 2nd degree was in culinary. I attended Bidwell Training Center and fell in love with food. Background in advertising and culinary experience together along with apprenticing for 2 years with a food stylist helped. Also a lot of cold calling. It was a hard time in PA to find work and got more work out of town.

2. I see you have a good number of sauces/dips in your styling, is it hard to get the right consistency? Any tricks to making it stick right?

It depends on the product. An example; red pepper hummus. What makes it appealing, must place with movement that shows texture. The hero object in the shoot is the red pepper. You don’t want to use a lot of garnish. I like the food to speak for itself. At the same time some food garnish might be needed.

3. Have you ever styled drinks? If so what kind? Was it difficult?

Everything is difficult. Even then it depends if client likes it or not. If it’s cold you have to show it’s cold without it actually being cold. With smoothie shoots you must have same consistency as what client uses. They can’t send you their 20,000 dollar machine to make the actual smoothie either.

4. Where do you find yourself working mostly?

Mostly in PA and Ohio. I work where ever anyone calls me though. Started coming to Philadelphia recently.

5. Do you work with photographers directly or do you get hired more through art directors?

50/50 with both. Depends on company, art directors come to me to get my real rate. It’s always a bidding war.

6. Have you always done still photography styling or did you start out in t.v. styling?

I started doing movies here and there. I did a party scene on Wonder Boys with wine and cheese. Whatever passes through the scene. Also prop master might hire me. Once I had to cook food to be eaten that had to be served cold. It was a rack of lamb. I was Frenching tons of bones for the rack of lamb. High end looking meal for “rich” family for movie. Love and Other Drugs was another movie. With still images there is more attention to still. Motion it’s more forgiving.

7. Now that social media is growing do you find yourself using it more as a marketing tool?

Yes. Facebook I have my fan page. Ana The Uncensored Chef is my RAW Facebook page. Clients are my friends on Facebook. Personality has a lot to do with it. I have a fan page, Ana Kelly Food Styling.

8. What is your favorite tool you use on set? Why?

Vaseline, crazy glue, tweezers, Q-tips, Windex, and blue sticky. Without any of these things it’s not worth showing up. You must invest in business, it takes a lot of money. Especially to get larger clients. You have to front a lot of work out of pocket.

9. Who was your first big client?

First big client was All-Clad, then Campbell's. I did a Art institute commercial. All-Clad selling pots and pans. Moved onto Smuckers company. Also worked with Emeril, Giant Eagle (grocery chain), Market district.

10. What is your favorite thing to style?

I use food to style. I like to use food to make other things. I have used Jell-O to insinuate a butt jiggling. There is no one favorite thing I enjoy to style, I just like to use food to create other things that aren't necessarily meant to be food or eaten.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Watch Out Milkman!

The other day I was on the mainline meeting Neil Binkley for coffee and to look over my photography. His recommendation of a coffee shop to meet at was perfect!

Milkboy.. The name is as cute and funny as the logo. This Pudgy, happy one color toned boy placed on the coffee sleeve really set the mood.

It wasn’t that though that will keep me coming back, it was their almond croissant pastry. It was like funnel cake for breakfast! You would expect it to be flaky and light but it was this doughy center when pulled apart and melted in my mouth. The powdered sugar and slivered almonds were a nice touch. Then I washed it down with my freshly brewed coffee brought to my seat in the window.

The only thing the Milkboy lacked was a business card. They instead had a great little sticker with a amp on it. They short history behind it, is it used to be a recording studio then expanded into selling coffee. You can get a better explanation on their website.

What else is great they are on Twitter! :)


Friday, May 13, 2011

Food Friday #7

1.) How long have you been in the food styling business?

I have been prop styling for seven years. I started food styling about five years ago mostly out of necessity because several of the shoots I was styling were about entertaining and therefore involved food.  I’ve always been an avid cook, I’ve taken a lot of cooking classes, knife sills classes, etc. and also built my prop styling career by working in the restaurant business at night.

2.) What is your education background?

I have an undergraduate degree is in journalism and I worked in publishing both in Philadelphia and New York for several years before going back to school for photography.

3.) Who was your first break through client?

I’m not sure that I’ve ever had one break through client but there have been three employers on my career path who have given me significant guidance and opportunities.  The first is Barry Halkin, a Philadelphia architectural photographer who I worked for after graduating from art school.  He introduced me to the world of architecture and interior design.   Zave Smith, another Philadelphia photographer who I assisted for, introduced me to the idea of prop styling as a career and gave me a lot of opportunities to develop my styling skills on his shoots.   Anne Bigler, the Art Director for Philadelphia Home magazine gave me my first editorial styling job.  

4.) What do you enjoy styling the most?

I love styling food because it’s so precise.  I think fresh produce is the most beautiful thing in the world.

5.) Your site shows your wide variety of expertise, do you enjoy styling food or rooms more? 

I enjoy them both.  As I mentioned food styling is very precise and it allows me a professional outlet for my OCD.  Styling interiors gives me a chance to play with different styles of design because every location is so different.

Do you travel a lot for work? 

No, I don’t really travel for work.  I’m based in Philadelphia and most of my clients are located in Philadelphia, New York or D.C.

7.) Where do you find your prop? Stores, Trash cans? Best resource?

I’m definitely a collector.  I love thrift stores and yard sales.  My grandmother was an antique dealer and my mom displays a lot of her old glass, plate and cookware in her home.  I borrow from my mom regularly, and refer to her home as "my second prop closet". I’m also lucky enough to have a large group of friends who are collectors of all sorts of things from old cameras and tools to vintage fabrics and jewelry.  I’m shameless about hitting up everyone I know for props.

8.) Is a lot of your work word of mouth now? How hard was it to break into styling?  

Up until a year ago, all of my work came from word of mouth. Now I list myself on several online film and photo production directories and I find them to be very effective.  Breaking into styling was not very difficult for me but I’ve had a lot of very generous people passing my name along and many clients who have been very loyal even in challenging economy.

9.) Do you find yourself working with art directors or photographers more? Or is it a middle collaboration? 

I find that I collaborate with photographers and art directors equally.  Usually the art director presents an overall vision for a project and then the photographer and I will typically work together to bring it to life.  

10.)  Hardest thing you had to style.

I think the hardest thing I ever had to style was a grilled cheese sandwich.  I have some favorite cheeses that I like to work with but for this particular shoot I had to use the client’s products, which were not very cooperative.  Also, the art director was not at the shoot so the photographer had to quickly shoot each sandwich and email it to the art director.   Every time the art director wanted to make a change, the sandwich was already too old to shoot again.  I must have made 40-50 grilled cheese sandwiches that day in order to have a perfect option ready at all times. I do however, still enjoy a good grilled cheese!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Food Friday #6

"I love to tie history and food together."

1.) With your Broadcasting degree did you think you were going to end up as a food stylists?
No. I didn’t even know what a food stylist was back then.

2.) What made you decide on going to school for a culinary degree?
I had been working for CBS at channel 10 here in Philadelphia and at the same time was the sales manager.  When CBS sold channel 10 to NBC in 1995 or 96 I stuck around with NBC for a year. The way they did business wasn’t the way I wanted to, so I left the station. I just decided, being a very successful sales guy with money in the bank I have always wanted to work in the restaurant industry and wanted to go back and learn what the chefs were doing.  Learn the “secrets.” I have cooked and bartend in the past and I knew there were things out there I didn’t know.

3.) You have a substantial list of chefs you’ve worked with, do you think that’s where the majority of your work still comes from or was that a door that opened into more possibilities?
Neither. I came to be able to work with all those chefs in one or two locations. When I was in culinary school there was a job posting on one of the bulletin for food stylist for QVC . I didn’t know what that was so I just went to see what that was all about. I went to work for QVC. I started meeting clients out there that needed a food stylist.  Worked with industry clients T.V. styling that way.  I started with the Christina Pirello show. Started to work for Banyan Productions. At the time they were a production company that handled Christina’s program for PBS.  That’s how I got into T.V. styling production. Then started producing another show for Discovery Channel Epicurious. Which there is still a version of that on internet.  I was the kitchen director for that show. Had a team of food stylists working for me. The T.V. production business is a small inbred group that move to together to production companies. If you don’t know anyone you won’t get anywhere. Wants your in, your in. If you do a good job also. You gotta believe you can make a clients vision happen.

4.) Did you start out doing T.V. food styling or was it still photography?
Started out doing live T.V. styling with QVC. What’s great about still photo now is its digital.

5.) Do the chefs you’ve worked with have their own restaurants or was it primarily individual chefs that had recipes and cookbooks?
They were all very well known chefs with their own restaurants, cookbooks, and recipes. Paul Prudhomme, Emeril...

6.) What do you enjoy styling the most?
I like styling more than anything. Very tough to style drinks. You can recreate anything in photoshop. Digital has made it easier from a food stylist and photographer’s standpoint. Also clients get images immediately.

7.) What kind of garden do you have at home?
Vegetable, fruits, herbs. An Organic garden. I started with my seeds in the basement. Things I tend to grow are things that are usually more expensive. Eggplants, peas, tomatoes, green yellow beans. I grow my own culinary herbs. Fresh is the best!

8.) Who was your breakthrough client?
Christina Pirello. She played a pivotal role in my food styling career.

9.) Have you ever worked or been hired directly by a photographer?
 I’ve been hired by a photographer through a client. Never directly by a photographer. Usually a creative director between photographer and myself. Or a production manager with a company or magazine. I’ve been directly hired by photographer Dan Engongoro. His studio is Studio E Imaging in Lambertville, NJ. 
10.) What is your favorite home meal to make?
I don’t cook like I used to. I changed my eating habits in the past 2 years. Chicken Marango is my favorite dish. There is such a great story behind that dish. Sauteed chicken breast which is served over a piece of toast. On top of chicken is crawfish which have been sauteed in vermouth toped with a fried egg. Great backstory: 1804-1806 Napoleon found himself on battlefield near Marango in Italy. Moved around a lot for battle and left his supplies behind once. He was hungry and had to eat something so he finds a chicken and had cognac and vermouth. Finds crawfish at local stream and goes back and cooks a meal. Apparently first use of chicken and seafood on same dish. “Culinary legend”