If you had ever been on A Hamburger Today then I’m pretty sure you have seen photos of delicious looking burgers by Nick Solares of Beef Aficionado. I really admire how simple and to the point his food photos are. There’s nothing more beautiful than a well shot close-up of a delicious looking burger. I get so hungry for meat everytime I look at his photos. Also, how much beef does this man eat per week?!
Q. Can you tell me what you’re trying to capture when you take your food photos?
A. If I am photographing strictly for review I want to present the food as it arrives at the table so I won’t re-arrange it or do anything to glamorize it, aside from trying to get the composition and other technical parameters right. I suppose this would be considered documentary photography and its primary objective is to convey to the reader what they might expect if they dine at the restaurant under review. While a photograph can’t really tell you what something tastes like it can certainly evoke primal reactions in a way that writing cannot. The other type of pictures I make are more evocative whether they are a “making of” type feature or when I am trying to capture a particular mood or feeling.
Q. Have you always been interested in photography? If not, when and why did you decide to start taking photos?
A. Not consciously but I have always been interested in aesthetics and design and, as it turned out, always looked at the world in a compositional sort of way. I had some early digital cameras but didn’t particularly like the results they produced and didn’t really get into digital photography until I started food writing in 2006 and picked up a DSLR. Since then I have shot almost every day and have branched out to shoot different subjects – portraits, fashion, music. But food photography remains, pardon the pun, my bread and butter.
Q. What to you makes a good photo?
A. I suppose on the purely aesthetic level a good photograph should be pleasing to the eye but a great photo should cause an emotional reaction, whether positive or negative.
Q. Any food photography heroes? If not any photography heroes?
A. Plenty of both, and really too many to list, but off the top of my head Andrew Scrivani‘s work is amazing. I really like what Christopher Hirsheimer and Ron Haviv did on the Balthazar cookbook, George Motz of Hamburger America is a big influence. I love Hong-An Tran‘s work, she inspired me to get into rangefinder photography. In broader photographic terms I can’t get enough Eggleston.
Q. What inspires you?
A. Clean lines and pure ingredients.
Q. Best meal so far in 2011?
A. That’s a tough one! Technically it was probably at Il Postale in Perugia, Italy back in August but the most satisfying was cooked by my sister for my brothers wedding, also in Italy.
Q. It looks like you took a sabbatical this year from Serious Eats and Beef Aficionado, what were you up to?
A. I was working as the creative director for an iPad app with famed NYC butcher Pat LaFrieda and Zero Point Zero Productions, who produce No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. Domani Studios programed and developed it, interpreting our vision in the digital plane. The app is called Pat LaFrieda’s Big App for Meat and it was named as App of the Week in the App Store. The app is a complete guide to every cut of beef, lamb, pork, veal, turkey, chicken and duck and is loaded with over 250 photographs as well as exhaustive text, video, a quiz, a history of LaFrieda Meats,interactive 360 degree views of many cuts and much more.
It really is jam packed and I am tremendously proud of it. It was great to work with Pat, being a master butcher he obviously has a lot of knowledge but he is also a very good teacher and I think that really come through in the app – you will learn a lot. And working with ZPZ and Domani was truly inspiring, there are a lot of really creative people at those two companies.
To download the app, click here!
All photos courtesy of Nick Solares of Beef Aficionado.