2011 has been one amazing year. I’ve met so many wonderful people that are doing what they love, even when they have to juggle ten thousand things all at once. Jenna Park is a photographer, mom, wife, business owner, blogger, website designer, art director and HELLO! fellow ITP alumni. Jenna founded Whimsy & Spice with her husband, Mark Sopchak, back in 2008. They make amazing sweets like marshmallows, cookies, brownies and many other delicious things. Looking through their site, it’s hard not just run out and buy all their goodies. Thank you Jenna for letting me feature you!
Q. Can you tell me what you’re trying to capture when you take your food photos?
A. I call my style “lazy stylist”. But in all seriousness, just like my design work, the food photos that I take for our business is pretty stripped down and minimal. I’m less attracted to overly stylized food shots with lots of props – I would rather capture the scene or the food as is and let that tell the story.
Q. I read your blog entry about your renewed interest in taking photos because of Whimsy & Spice. How has your view on photography changed and how has photography changed the way you see the world now?
A. I studied photography in high school and also in art school as part of 1st and 2nd year requirements. Since this was a million years ago, we were developing and printing our own prints in a dark room. Most of the class, however, consisted of long critiques. When I left art school, I didn’t pick up a camera again for quite a number of years. I surprised myself a few years later when I wanted to take a color photography class for a quarter when I transferred schools to be a music major, but the art that I created was less about taking photos and more about creating collages with images that I developed in the darkroom.
I didn’t really start taking photos again until we started the business. It was a simple matter of economics – we couldn’t afford a photographer to do our product shots so I just did them myself. I have to cringe at those early product shots but they really served us well and I think was a huge reason why we took off so quickly with very little PR effort from our part. Since then I’ve become personally interested in more documentary style photography
Q. What inspires you as a photographer?
A. The fact that you can freeze time. I love that you can capture moments that are so fleeting, you wouldn’t be able to see them otherwise without a camera.
Q. Any food photography heroes? If not any photography heroes?
A. I don’t really have any food photography heroes per se, but I was always very enamored by Nan Goldin going all the way back to my art school days. I also love the NY street photography of Vivian Maier and I enjoy the work of my “baby” cousin Dorothy Hong. She’s an incredibly gifted young photographer who has already had much success in her career.
Q. Best meal so far in 2011?
A. I think the most memorable meal that I’ve had this year was my birthday picnic back in April (http://www.sweetfineday.com/2011/04/a-birthday/). Mark and the girls surprised me on our outing to Old Westbuy Gardens with a spread that included cheese, pate, bread and raw oysters that Mark shucked himself right there. He also baked this insane 7 layer chocolate cake with white chocolate frosting that has since been dubbed the “god cake” by our kitchenmates, Liddabit Sweets.