Orange you glad about fruit?

Over the weekend, I had a two bushels of oranges to eat, drink, make pictures of and went on a street food walk around east Passyunk ave in Philadelphia.  Check out the story here

Having sliced and squeezed some oranges after work one day, I thought to myself to make some test images of the oranges on the weekend.  Using my one flash, some natural light, and bounce v flats, I set up these shots in the middle of my living room. For these images, what I think could have been better is that I could have added some more variations of citrus fruit- blood oranges, grapefruit, maybe a lemon.  And at the last image with the juiced set, some food associated with breakfast.. waffles, eggs, maybe some hash browns and bacon.  Probably will need to find more things to use as my base to shoot on. 

Food Styling

I wrote this post and forgot to save.  Guess what, Firefox was like.. NOPE!

I was reading a post on Petapixel about food styling.  Maybe from the 90s to early 2000s.  In the photo series are images that described with what stylists used to "enhance" the food for the photographs, e.g., items like motor oil, shaving cream. 

Bagels and cream cheese from  Philly Style Bagels .  Coffee from  ReAnimator Coffee .  No other added things to style this.

Bagels and cream cheese from Philly Style Bagels.  Coffee from ReAnimator Coffee.  No other added things to style this.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, food stylists did use motor oil to make meat more brown, shaving cream to make cake icing, mashed potatoes and food coloring to make ice cream.  I am sure that you can google the rest to find out yourself on what food stylists used to "enhance" the food.  Now I can understand why, preparing to photograph the food back then took much longer and with food photography, time really is of the essence.  But today? 

First, let me put this out there, all my food photographs are all natural.  You can eat the food and drink the drinks after I photograph them.  Well my fingers do get in there.. For myself, it is prepare the scene first then plate the food. 

Food magazines have gone completely all natural since 2004(?) for their food photographs.  Bon Appetit had a story on their staff photograph, Alex Lau.  It's a fun read.  But helps show what I am writing about.  Food publications food photographs are all natural.  Commercial?  That I am not so sure, but I am hoping that it is all natural too. 

So I hope this helps elaborate how food used to be stylized and how I work with making food photographs.

You do you, unless you want to be a photographer.

Since my last post, I finally was able to meet Penny De Los Santos and take her workshop up in NYC, went to California, and posted a ton of photographs onto Exposure.  I am not sure why I came back from California on Monday, but I did.  I pretty much abhor snow and winter.  

Then I read a story from Bridget Eldrige Photography about her time with Foundation Workshop.  And thought about some thoughts that were passed around, while I have been pursuing this photography work.  One thought was, "be yourself." Now everyone says, "be yourself" which is all well and good.  But not entirely good if you are a photographer.  Well specifically, an introverted photographer like myself and Bridget, in the provided link.  One of the key non-technical things that make or break photography is connection.  I don't mean the subjects in the photo, but that in itself also makes a stronger and compelling photograph.  But I mean between photographer and subject, specifically live beings- people and animals.  Food? I don't know photographer and subject is relevant for that.  

For introverts, it is hard to open up and just talk to people, let alone allowing them to open up to you as a photographer.  So that's what I mean by being yourself as a photographer doesn't necessarily cut it.  If you are wondering what Foundation Workshop is, it's a workshop on wedding photojournalism.  They throw the students into an in depth situation for them to document, which doesn't have to do with weddings.  The goals of Foundation, as the name implies, is to create a foundation of strong visual story telling.  You need to know all the technical aspects of photography prior to come out of it better.  But then again, why would you be spending $4k or so of hard earned money if you didn't know how to use your camera?

Creating a connection with the people, or animals, that you are photographing is one of the top traits that need be able to conjure up in seconds.  That is if you want to be a successful photographer.  

Knowing that this is an issue for myself, I have been since trying to strike up small talk and discussion with anyone.  So far it is going alright. I do realize that I am much more talkative to strangers, if I am traveling.  I have to say that, that while I love the in the moment photographs, but those in the moment photographs are stronger and freeing if there was a connection made between the photographer and people you are photographing.  

But, man, it is hard!  I just want to go in make some photographs and head on out of there.  Just like with my realization with my personal project, in order for me to make a story more compelling is to get them to open up about themselves.   

That's what I got when I read Bridget's blogpost, talking to people really helps make your images better.  Being serious here. 

Anyway, as mentioned, I recently came back from California.  Still beating myself up here for coming back.  I was out there babysitting my nephew Vincent for the week.  As with every time I am out there, I ponder to myself what am I doing.  Or well, what am I doing staying in the East coast?

So what do you think?  What areas do you think you are falling short in being whom you want to be?

Food Culture. The why that should be your focus on food photography.

It's not that I forgot to write actual stories on this blog, it is that I prefer to put them all on my Exposure site since they are photo intense.  This post is more written word driven, however that is no excuse as this is supposed to be my photography portfolio work.

When you look at your instagram feed (add me!) you see a plethora of instagrams of what someone made or ate.  Being a food and culture photographer, I do it too, not judging just saying.  A lot of amazing looking food that has been made and about to be eaten.  At least I hope will be eaten.  Please don't waste your food. 

Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa from my story, " Illegal Food ."

Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa from my story, "Illegal Food."

My question for you though, and to those who take those pictures, do you know the story behind the food you are taking a picture of?  Have you asked or tried to listen to the story of the people behind it?  That is something more important to have photographed then just the meal itself- the personal story of how that food you just bought or made to your mouth.  More and more, food publications are running photographs of just the food as if our attention is only on the dish or what food is trending this season.  Instead of the people who made the food.  Not just that celebrity chef that everyone is gawking over, but there needs to be more images and stories of the people who help make it possible.  The growers, pickers, butchers, all the way to the waiter/waitress to just put the meal down for you to enjoy.

Tim Weckerle working for the Weckerlys Ice Cream at a night market inPhiladelphia.

Tim Weckerle working for the Weckerlys Ice Cream at a night market inPhiladelphia.

When I look at some of the latest trends in food and styling, it looks more like food is being put on a "pedestal" or is so deconstructed that I start to wonder is this food or an art set piece?  Don't get me wrong, I think the ones I have seen are beautiful and everyone has their own vision of food.  I just pursue food photography, differently, where culture plays a bigger role than art.  That sounds like a cop out. Food journalism and photography, along with many other forms of writing and photography as a living, is a privilege

David of Seoulfull Philly food truck.

David of Seoulfull Philly food truck.

I had a brief discussion with a friend food writer about this as well, and she brought up the fact that privilege, hinders the diversity of food and travel writing.  The way I see it, when food is photographed in a way that it looks like it being put on a pedestal, I see privilege.  But when I read and see images and stories that include the history and story of the people behind said dish, I see the writer/photographer trying to further his/her understanding of that dish is being made and how it got to them to document.  

If you ever asked why my portfolio looks more of the people who prepped, made, and brought out the food than just the food itself, it is because I think food photographs are about the people behind the dish.