Great Food Photos

Category Archives: brooklyn

Jenna Park

by
Jenna Park

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!

Jenna Park
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.

All photos courtesy of Jenna Park of Whimsy & Spice and Sweet Fine Day. Also be sure to check out Jenna’s new photo project, The Mixed Race, where she photographs multiracial families.
Jenna Park

Jenna Park

Jenna Park

Jenna Park

Jenna Park

Valery Rizzo

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Valery Rizzo

Valery Rizzo is a Brooklyn based photographer that shoots in both digital and film and is also a fellow contributor on Nona Brooklyn. I was totally amazed at her photos when I found out that she shot all of the photos in her 1st assignment for Nona Brooklyn with a plastic toy camera. I own a Holga myself and know that even though it’s a plastic toy camera, it’s still produces some serious looking images. But in the hands of Valery Rizzo, the images are just beautiful.

Currently she’s working on a photo book with images of Brooklyn she has taken with toy cameras. I can’t wait for it to come out.

Valery RizzoValery Rizzo

Q. Can you tell me what you’re trying to capture when you take your food photos?
A. I am always trying to tell a story. A story about a recipe, a person, a place, an event or culture and it’s connection to the food. I love to add a human element when I can and I am intrigued by the role food plays in our everyday lives as well as how food is grown and the art of creating with food.

Q. Have you always been interested in photography?
A. I guess you could say yes and no… I’ve been interested in art since I was a child. I belong to a whole family of artists and my mother was a photographer, so I used my parent’s cameras growing up and took my 1st photography class was when I was in my young teens. My grandfather actually gave me a Diana clone (toy camera) when I was fourteen from his box of tricks he kept his work studio. I later graduated from Pratt Institute majoring in illustration and have worked as an art director, illustrator and designer, then got into textile design and worked as an artist for Ralph Lauren Home Design for over seventeen years. During that time at Ralph Lauren I became interested in photography and started studying at The International Center of Photography, SVA and Pratt, started contributing to stock agencies and shooting assignments and for the past two years I have been a photographer full-time.

Q. What is it about film that keeps you shooting analog?
A. I use film mostly for my personal work and it is all medium format (Oh and I love Polaroid!), so I love the large size which then lends itself to fine art and I love the saturated and lush color and qualities of film. I also just love the whole process of shooting film, opening a roll, loading it, getting it developed in that anticipation of seeing what you may or may not have captured and when you’re ecstatic at the results, that rush of holding that print in your hands and being with it is like no other. It also gives me a chance to be separated from the computer and pixels, which is important and feels good.

Q. What made you decide to take photos with plastic toy cameras? Do you have a favorite toy camera, if so why?
A. I think I was inspired by a beautiful little book, printed in Italy by photographer Christopher Anderson, called Nonfiction. It is a book about nothing in particular, just random shots taken with a toy camera, while on assignment, beautifully spontaneous shots. But really for me it was one day after I woke up with horrible vertigo which left me debilitated and made it hard for me to even walk up to the corner. I don’t think I felt like myself again until 4 years later. My husband started driving me around Brooklyn to get me out and into the world again and I decided to pick up my Holga and some medium format film, it seemed light and easy enough to use to get me back into shooting again. When I was shooting I forgot about feeling dizzy. From that horrible time I discovered my love of film, toy cameras and Brooklyn. I shoot with several Holgas, but my favorite is my rare Woca.

Q. Your food blog is “Eating Brooklyn” and you are currently working on a Brooklyn photo book. What is it about Brooklyn that you find worth documenting?
A. Well, when my interest in food photography became apparent it naturally made sense that my food blog should be Brooklyn-based to coincide with my monograph (Brooklyn book project) I’m working on since even my food interests were heavily focused on Brooklyn. Being a REAL Brooklyn native I feel I have a unique point of view worth documenting and what I love about Brooklyn is the independent spirit it seems to possess. Witness to all the changes over the years Brooklyn is constantly changing, some of it for the better and some for the worse, for my book project I would like to capture all of the free spirit that is Brooklyn today while preserving all of the character that might be gone tomorrow. For Eating Brooklyn I’m just intrigued
by the enormous foodie scene in Brooklyn, together with an environment that lends itself towards urban farming, cultural diversity, freedom of ideas and community.

Q. Any film photography heroes?
A. I am very inspired by Sally Mann, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Michal Chelbin, Claudio Edinger (who just told me he would write the intro for the Brooklyn book), Ben Roberts and Andrew Moore, just to name a few and as far as food photography, Ditte Isager, David Loftus, John Kernick and Roland Bello are some of my favorites.

Q. Best meal so far in 2011?
A. I tend to cook at home more than eating out, because I just feel as though it’s healthier and I know what I am eating, but of course I love to try new places in Brooklyn. When I do eat out its the smaller more unique places that I love rather than anything fancy, I also go for the experience together with hopefully good food to match. That being said I’d have to say I loved having lunch at Bakeri, in Williamsburg. This small little bakery is such a special place, while eating there you really feel as though you’re in a café in Paris. I love the beautiful individual vintage bottles they serve water in, and the tea is served in bowls, if Anthropologie was a cafe this would be it. I had their veggie sandwich on focaccia with Gruyere, tomato and arugula, which is hot
pressed and just the right size for one person. My husband had a berry scone like no other served in the shape of a slice of pie. Together with our bowls of tea, fancy water and cool music
we were relaxed and in heaven. You should buy one of their authentic french baguettes to take home with you afterwards. More recently the Arepas at Caracas Arepa Bar at Rockaway Beach were pretty amazing as well!

All photos courtesy of Valery Rizzo of Eating Brooklyn
Valery RizzoValery Rizzo

Valery RizzoValery Rizzo

Valery Rizzo

Valery Rizzo

Valery Rizzo

Nicole Franzen

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Nicole Franzen

Just reading Nicole Franzen’s “About Me” page is making me want to travel to Argentina as soon as possible. But since I don’t have the funds I’ll just have to see Argentina through her lens.

It’s always nice to feature and meet another Brooklyn based photographer because it’s great seeing the city you’re living in from another point of view (random thought, maybe fun to get all the Brooklyn based photogs I have featured here for a fun gathering?!) What’s also great is that you get good tips about things like where to get good fish tacos! I’ve been hunting for good ones in the city for a while, apparently I have to go to the beach.

Oh and I had no idea you can make iced chamomile tea like this!

Nicole Franzen

Q. Can you tell me what you’re trying to capture when you take your food photos?
A. I try to create moments, ones that people can relate to and are pleasing to the eyes. I like to keep things simple and real. Fresh, colorful and alive. I love how vibrant vegetables are, we have a love affair.

Q. What made you pick up a camera and decided to be a food photographer?
A. Well I have always had a camera in my hand. Even more so when I bought my first DSLR about 4 years ago. Ever since then I’ve been taking photos weekly if not daily. I have worked in restaurants for 12 years, and been obsessed with cooking/food since as early as I can remember. When I first started taking photos I was doing mostly lifestyle and people. Lot’s of photos of friends, nightlife and adventures. But as time went on I asked myself why not shoot food? You’re obsessed with it and its your life, maybe you should combine both your passions? So I gradually started teaching myself, cooking the food that I always ate and photographing it. And over time it just started working for me. I have found my niche. Capturing food environments is definitely what I like most.

Q. What inspires you as a photographer?
A. The seasons, I am a big fan of spring and summer. I love the warmth, the light, the food, the energy, and the rich colors. I am inspired by nature and design. I love and like to combine interior design, architecture and the outdoors. I get the most excited when I actually step foot in either a farm or farmer’s market. Something about all the fresh veggies, hard to explain. Flowers, produce and people who work honest jobs with passion. I am a sucker for it. Travel is also a huge inspiration and seeing new places. The ocean is also very close to my heart.

Q. Any food photography heroes? If not any photography heroes?
A. I have lot’s of love for my fellow photogs. They inspire me and push me to get better. Fine art food photographers I like to think of them as, like Ditte Isager, Gentl and Hyers, Mikkel Vang and John Cullen. They “wow” me and are extremely talented. I also have a ton of food photographers/bloggers that I adore. You can see a list of them on my blog.

Q. Best bite in Argentina?
A. While I was living in Argentina I wasn’t a vegetarian. So my opinions would be altered from how I feel now, as opposed to then. But I will talk about when I was living there and what I enjoyed eating. I loved getting a fabulous steak and smothering it in chimichurri. I would eat that with fries and a super fresh salad which you could choose the ingredients. Simple modest food but it was so fresh that I literally have such fond memories of something as simple as a tomato. I would eat a ton of pizza and empanadas. The pizza there is literally so much better then New York or any where else I have been. Napolitana to be exact, so so good. I loved the empanadas, jamon y queso (ham & cheese), caprese (tomato, basil & mozzarella) and one of my all time favs was apio y roquefort (celery & blue cheese) I am drooling now haha. The coffee is also great, cafe con leche. I drank yerba mate as well and grew quite fond of the ritual with friends. How can I forget the amazing gelato, dulce de leche and alfajores. YUM.

Q. Best meal so far in 2011?
A. I cook most of the time. Mainly because most of the time when I eat out I feel disappointed and I think to myself that I could of made that at home cheaper and it would of tasted better. When I eat out it’s to places that aren’t usually that high end. I like to keep it real. I grab lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster and eat arepas from Caracas. I will grab a bowl of Thai mussels from Five Leaves and their ridiculous ricotta pancakes. I love eating at the Brooklyn Flea vendors. When we do eat out somewhere nice its usually a fabulous lunch at Gramercy Tavern. The food is always fantastic and I love working with them.

Q. Read in your blog that your favorite fish tacos are from Rockaway Taco, but any good ones in the city or Brooklyn?
A. Rockaway Taco is seriously one of the best Baha style fish tacos I have ever tasted. I have tried handfuls of different places throughout the city, and in Mexico. Where we were staying in Mexico it was mostly ceviche and whole grilled fish. I don’t think they were as obsessed with fish tacos as maybe the Pacific coast is? We didn’t find anything amazing, is I guess what I am saying. I love the energy of Rockaway Taco and the ingredients are super fresh and the flavors are spot on. I still have yet to be wowed like that in the city. Pinche Taqueria is actually really good too, just thought of them.

All photos courtesy of Nicole Franzen of La Buena Vida
Nicole Franzen

Nicole Franzen

Nicole Franzen

Nicole Franzen

Nicole Franzen

Melina Hammer

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Melina Hammer

This world is a big place and sometimes the internet seems so much bigger. So it’s quite exciting when you can spot a gem within this huge mess of noise and chatter.

I seriously don’t remember how I found the photos of Melina Hammer which led me to her blog Licking the Plate. It may have been a reTweet of a reTweet (hahaa) but it doesn’t matter, I’m just glad I found her photos. Truly beautiful images! I especially love reading her post about her travels in Japan. It made me think about the time I was in Tokyo but wasn’t so much into photography and everytime I think about it, it just makes me sad.

After you’re done reading her interview (and hopefully you’ll stay and go through the rest of this blog), I suggest you should go and get your own pork loin roast and try this recipe on Melina’s blog. Perfect way to start and enjoy the Memorial weekend!
Melina Hammer

Q. Can you tell me what you’re trying to capture when you take your food photos?
A. It is inevitable that everyone has a relationship to food. Community, the sensuality of food, and the idea of celebration are some aspects I favor in my own work. When I photograph food, I focus on how natural light kisses the surface, creating a vibrancy that showcases just how ripe or fresh whatever it is that I am shooting. I want the viewer to feel the flavor in seeing the picture. Capturing the wet in drops of sauce, the gesture in a scatter of salt, casually chopped fresh herbs…. Becoming part of the picture through feeling its flavor is where it’s at.

Q. Have you always been interested in photography?
A. Yes. My father studied photography, along with architecture, when he was in college, and seeing a body of work he produced about loneliness sparked an interest for me. It gave me insight into trying to capture mood through photography. That, and the amazing images I’d see in my National Geographic magazines growing up, and I was hooked.

Q. Do you approach a food photo differently than non-food photo?
A. I do. Before getting into food photography I was developing a body of work centered on urban ruins – structures left behind in American culture that still contain incredible pieces of collective history…. I documented remnants, but I would also shoot the environment in an abstracted fashion. For example, in front of me might be torn paper – by obscuring scale or context, it became other-worldly landscapes. Peeling paint became stained glass, and so on. With my work in food, I retain the interest in representation, for the most part. I enjoy making a scene or setup, and framing the food in a particular context.
Melina Hammer

Q. Any food photography heroes? If not any photography heroes?
A. I have a number of photography heroes, food and otherwise. For food, some photographers I love are Con Poulos, Anna Williams, and Marcus Nilsson. Marcus makes everything visceral, and I really appreciate that when he’s capturing food. Anna often pairs disparate things together in a way that feels quite lyrical and beautiful. And Con is one of the first people to inspire me to attempt food photography. He has an incredible command over light, and modifies it so that just the right amount touches any surface, making it that much more appealing. Non-food-wise, I have always found inspiration from the work of Steve McCurry. He captures the human condition in a way that penetrates everything.

Q. A favorite dish to cook during Spring time?
A. Salads of every kind. Greens like purslane, mizuna, sorrel, and sunflower sprouts add a punch of flavor and great textures. Combine them with avocados, charred seafood, fresh herbs, and anything else that reads flavor, and I’m happy. Often I’ll go to the farmers’ market and see what speaks to me, bringing home odds and ends to make some sort of spontaneous feast.

Q. Best meal so far in 2011?
A. Though I’ve enjoyed or made numerous tasty meals since the year began, when I recalled our trip to Japan in late January and the various food adventures had there, I stopped in my tracks for the experience at Tsukiji Market. It isn’t even that sushi is my favorite food, but really that all of the elements together made this an incredible and memorable meal.
After three or so hours wandering wet, chilly aisles filled with every kind of sea creature, my husband and I were famished and dull with cold. A charming older man in one of the stalls offered us counsel on where to find great sushi at the market, and so we bumbled our way to what looked like could have been his recommendation. Another forty or so minutes in the chilly shade spent waiting in line and I was ready to eat almost anything, as long as I could be warm. Just then, a lady motioned “two!” with her fingers and nodded to us to come inside.

With enough stools to seat eight along a counter, she motioned and we sat. An older, bushy-eyebrowed sushi master fed us from behind the bar that day’s omakase – chef’s choice menu. Course after course, the fish was sweet, wet, and glistened with a special shine you can only find when that fish has only been caught hours before. My personal favorite was the sea urchin, which resembled a mound of sweet, briny, butter, followed closely by the ami ebi – raw sweet shrimp that were plump, delicate, and definitely sweet. Other notable items included miso soup with plump, tiny clams, and two kinds of fleshy, melty toro (tuna belly). The ikura – salmon roe – were juicy and just the right kind of tight. Egg cake, tamago, was also served and was springy, soft, sweet, and soothing next to the flavors of the sea.

Only simple green tea accompanied this feast, and it was just enough to thaw my toes before we had to end it all and head back out into the winter sun.

All photos courtesy of Melina Hammer of Licking the Plate
Melina Hammer

Melina HammerMelina Hammer

Melina HammerMelina Hammer