The great thing about the internet/social media is the ability to bring your own voice to the world. I love going through works by photographers that don’t live in places I’ve been to. I love to travel but honestly, I doubt I’ll be able to make it to every corner of the world and to catch a glimpse of lets say Via Fratta in Italy is quite amazing. Valentina Solfrini’s photos are very intimate and inviting and homey. Even though NYC is practically the opposite of where she lives, it makes me feel happy that I get to see moments of her life in Italy and a chance to imagine what life could be like if I move to the Italian countryside.
This is definitely making me want to work extra hard to save up and travel.
Q. Can you tell me what you’re trying to capture when you take your food photos?
A. I try to capture moods, colors, textures and feelings that I feel are fine-tuned to my soul. Before I try to make the food look delicious, or even bother with composition, I always try to ‘feel’ the picture and see it in colors and lights that feel the closest to my heart. My aim is to take pictures as I was inviting you over for dinner, and be transported in a little corner of a different world where you could sit back and contemplate the light. I want to photograph a whole experience – not only food. I am always the happiest when people say ‘Your pictures make me want to jump right into them!’
Q. Have you always been interested in photography?
A. I have, kind of – I remember picking up my first camera when I was 11. It was an old Ricoh from the ’70s, and I started playing around with film. Ever since then, I always made sure I had a camera to use. It was always seen as a waste of time by everyone around me, as my field of focus was illustration at first. My passion for photography only exploded less than two years ago, when I realized that it was a much better way for me to express my feelings and speak my mind.
Q. Has going from New York to Italy changed your point of view in photography and your creativity?
A. I do not think so. If anything, every move I make helps me develop my creative process further. Seeing new things is one of the best ways to grow and, even though I much preferred the vibe in NYC, I do not want my surroundings to have anything to do with my photography. As long as I have a camera and some food to shoot, I can do my thing no matter where I am.
Q. What inspires your recipes?
A. So many things! At first – just as I do for the photos, I visualize the colors I want to eat. I like variety in my recipes, and I always want to make sure that the food I make feels genuine. Most of the time, I develop based on color and textures in my head.
I love to look at old magazines, especially some my grandparents owned from some 20 years ago, and re-interpret the recipes and modernize them. That aside, Pinterest and magazines are a major source of inspiration.
Q. Any food photography heroes? If not any photography heroes?
A. One of my first and most important sources of inspiration comes from the work made by a Swedish company called House of Radon on the blog ‘Now you’re Cooking‘. I am always stunned by their work.
This aside, some of my favorite shoots come from photographers that focus on travel. Cole Rise is one of my favorites. My current photography hero is probably Hideaki Hamada. I love how he can freeze into film such simple, luminous moments of everyday life.
Q. Best meal you had in 2014 so far?
A. Oh, this is such an unfair question. 2014 has been the year of the best meals of my life. The Asian burger I had in Vegas, or the Dim Sum at the Saveur event…nothing tasted as good as the hot, yet refreshing bowl of Korean Bibimbap that me and my travel buddies shared in a tiny restaurant in LA’s Koreatown, after a long drive through the desert.
But the highlight of this year has been an home cooked meal by my mom, that I had the luck to share with a very special person. It was a seafood feast – seafood tagliolini, and two delicious, colorful salad. I saw the eyes of my friend light up, and as we sat there it felt like there was every possible good feeling in that bowl of pasta. These two food moments made my heart swell with joy like never before.
All photos courtesy from Valentina Solfrini of Hortus Cuisine.