Can you tell me what you’re trying to capture when you take your food photos?
I want to convey emotion when I photograph my subject/s. With food, it always comes down to textures, colors and flavors and since I can’t have people eat what I shoot, I do my best to (hopefully) share those emotions that are running through my mind when I taste something for the first time and when I’m cooking.
How did you get started in photography and how has your relationship with photography evolved from then to now?
My dad’s a professional photographer and though I got to watch him shoot in and out of studios, I honestly never fell in love with photography till I became an adult. My food blog, A Brown Table, was what made me realize how much I love to photograph. In many ways, it’s also become a platform for me to practice and learn and a medium for me to express what is going on inside my head when I see a subject be it food, people or places. My sense of food styling has also evolved over time, I initially started out photographing ingredients and the final dish but over time, I realized that I missed an essential component of what I wanted to convey in my work, emotion! And as a cook, I knew I felt several different emotions when I prepared food in the kitchen. From excitement, to anxiety, to joy, to frustration, I go through a series of emotions when I’m cooking a dish, so why not share how I feel through my photographs. My work today is a much more mature expression of the food I love and in a way representative of me, as an individual.
I love your style. I love the use of empty space and shadows in your photos. How did you come about photographing food in this style?
Thanks, Donny! I’m fascinated with light and shadows, they constantly play with each other and depending on the combination, the two can create visually interesting textures and perspectives. When I first started to shoot food, I followed the general norm of using white backgrounds and bright light but I’ll be honest, my heart was never in it and I could feel that vibe stare at me in my work. It lacked what I wanted to convey as a photographer and what I wanted to do. After some serious thinking, I decided to follow my heart that I need to style and shoot the way I wanted to, it’s not that I have anything against white backgrounds and bright light (I still shoot with those mediums) but I think low lit or brightly lit, I need to create and share an interesting perspective or story to the people that view my photographs.
Best meal you had in 2015 so far?
By far the best meal I’ve tried this year was the one I ate at Al’s Place in San Francisco. Every plate is a visual delight but there is careful thought put into the pairing of flavors and ingredients in each dish that’s brought to the table. They have a knack of making their fresh vegetables stand out without giving that overstepping the dish appear affected.
All photos courtesy from Nik Sharma of A Brown Table