Every so often you meet someone that inspires you so much that you are drenched with motivation. Now imagine if you could know the story of this person; how did she start food photography; what motivates her and how she developed her food photography to a level that she started photographing professionally. In this interview, you will learn about the process of how to go about making food photos and a high-level workflow for post processing.
Let’s Give a Warm Welcome to Aran Goyoaga
I am very excited to welcome Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle Et Vanille. Time’s Online’s 50 best food photo blogs, Saveur Magazine’s Sites We Love and part of Martha Stewart’s Martha’s Circle, it has been a privilege to interview Aran. I find her food photography very inspiring and jaw-dropping. Her use of props and background is just outstanding. You can see her mouth-watering food photography at arangoyoaga.com and her food blog at Cannelle Et Vanille.
Aran, Tell us about yourself?
I am originally from Bilbao in the Basque Country and I have been in the US for 11 years. I studied business and economics but left that field to get into pastry full time. I worked as a pastry chef for many years but when I had my first child, I took some time off to be a mom. That’s when I started my blog Cannelle Et Vanille as a way to document all the baking I was doing at home. It was intended as a journal for me and my family but quickly became more than that.
People started noticing my work and I started receiving requests for assignments for styling and photography. I have always had a love of food and cooking . It has always been much more than a job. I am constantly inspired by nature and artisans.
How did you get into Food Photography?
I got into food photography when I started the blog. I realized that the photos I was taking were not doing the food any justice. I recognized the importance of a well photographed dish, so I began learning about it on my own.
What type of training do you have (course, self-study etc.) and how did you get it?
As I mentioned, my formal university training is in business and economics (I even hold an MBA), but then I attended culinary school here in South Florida where I studied to be a pastry chef. But I have to admit most of what I know has come from practice and from working.
In your opinion, what are the main elements that make a great Food Photo?
I think the styling has to be great, but above all, it’s the light that has to be spot on. I only work with natural light and to be able to manipulate the light that is available to suit a mood or get a specific effect is the hardest thing and what makes or break a photo.
How do you go about taking photos? Tell us about your process of taking food photos and your workflow.
Before I shoot something, I look at the characteristics I want to highlight. Whether it is height, texture, etc. I decide what angle I will shoot from (overhead, ¾ angle or straight on). Then I think about the light and where I want to create shadows and where I want to fill the image with light.
For example, shooting cookies. I like to stack them, therefore a straight on angle is best. Also using a side light will highlight the edges of the cookies and bring emphasis to that.
I use Lightroom to organize my photos and do minimal editing like contrast and brightness. Then I go to Photoshop and see if any additional retouching is needed which normally isn’t much. I always back up to an external drive. Very simple.
What are some food photography tips for budding food photographers
The most important thing is to find where the good light is where you are working. Natural light that is not too harsh. I like window light that is diffused, so if the sun is shining right on, I diffuse it with artist vellum, a sheer curtain or even a piece of paper. This will avoid shadows that are too harsh.
I always shoot manual and always meter. Shoot the same subject at different speeds and exposures to see the different effects.
When styling, don’t over do it. Keep in mind the cooking process and how you got to the final product and incorporate some of that in there. I like to create a story around the food too.
Your favorite food photographers/stylists and food photography websites?
I have learned a lot from Still Life With…I love the collaboration between Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton from Canal House. I love what they are doing. I also love the work of stylists Susie Theodorou and Elodie Rambaud. As for photographers I love Tina Rupp, Tara Donne, Nicole Hill Gerulat, Penny De Los Santos, Jenifer Altman, Jennifer Causey, Keiko Okawa, Lara Ferroni, Beatrice Peltre, Con Poulos and so many more. A lot actually.
Thank you Aran!
Aran, thank you for your time for this interview with you.
You can say hello to Aran on twitter @CannelleVanille and visit her blog to see some awesome food photography.
Would Appreciate Your Help
From the photographers that Aran mentioned, whom should I interview for the upcoming weeks? Tell us in the comments below.
Important: Photographs used in this post are copyright of Aran and you should contact her and get permission before using them.