My Favorite Food Photos of 2018
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Last year I meticulously counted each and every restaurant shoot. I intended to do the same for 2018 but somewhere in the middle of fall, I lost count. When I started freelancing, every opportunity felt so fleeting. What if this was my last shoot? Now, it’s sort of funny to think that I had such anxieties. Anyway, at the start of 2018, I started to say no to some projects that didn’t fit my overall goal of being within food or travel photography. Even with these guardrails, my schedule got a little out of control. I learned a lot. For example, doing 9 shoots in one week is not sustainable and causes me to lose count of shoots and track of days. It’s been fun, nonetheless. I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing. I loved taking all of these images and I hope you enjoy some of the back stories even if I don’t have exact stats for you all this year.
Japan is a food wonderland
Most of the time, when I’m not shooting for a client, I don’t photograph my food. It’s work. I love it but it’s still work and so when I’m eating out and relaxing, I generally don’t want to work. Also, I don’t want to be the asshole that’s making everyone wait to eat till I get my perfect shot. I mean, I still do it sometimes but I try not to infuriate my friends every single time I see them. That all goes out the window in Japan.
I say this ALL THE TIME but just in case we’ve never met and this is your first time running across my prattling, Japan has some of the best food in the world. It’s incredible. I wanted to photograph everything.
Work work work
In 2018, I focused on food & travel photography and was karmically smiled upon with a decent amount of work (except in June & September, weirdly). When I’m in the midst of a lot of projects, I kind of suck at sharing or marketing or talking to other humans like a normal person. Sometimes there are funny project stipulations that require me not to share stuff ahead of time. So then when things come out, I’m mentally on to something new. Sometimes, I’m just juggling too many things at once. That’s all to say, I’ve worked on a lot of food photography projects this year that I loved but then often struggled to talk about them. Below is some stuff I shot for Peninsula Hotels, Beach House Social and Windy City Smokeout. Further below that is some stuff I shot for Master of Mixes.
I grew up reading the Chicago Reader (Savage Love!) so it is always a surreal delight when I get to photograph a restaurant review for them. This past year, I photographed Fisk & Co, Diner Grill and Bayan Ko for reviews.
Interestingly, I ended up photographing Fisk & Co twice. Once for the Reader and once for the Infatuation. That turned out to be an incredible experience. I felt challenged to see dishes and a space I already photographed in a new way.
Pizza and pasta
2018 was my first year with no social media duties! The only social media accounts I worked on this year were my own and it was a delight. In past years, I got a bit fatigued with the crowd pleasing sort of images because they were always linked with the social media portion. It was nice to photograph pizzas and pastas without having to think too much about how I’d caption them or space them out or anything like that.
Food photography just for me
Around the fall, as I was starting to lose count of restaurant shoots, I was also starting to feel a bit burned out. I was getting things done, going to shoots, editing and meeting deadlines but I just felt a bit uninspired. The thing is, I really love photography and I really love food photography. At some point I realized that I just needed to do a bit more of it just for myself. A lot of the stuff I shot never made it to my Instagram or blog but it helped me get out of creative slumps.
The “fuck it” photo was a collaboration with my friend and talented typographer, Cristina Vanko. We bought all of the desserts one day and made a series of GIFs. Anyway, we used cherry pie filling to spell out the “fuck it” and were quite happy with it but one thing I didn’t consider is that cherry pie filling is slightly acidic and marble doesn’t do well with acid. Hilariously, there is a permanent “fuck it” stain on my kitchen table. I faded it a bit with lemon juice but if you catch it at the right angle, you can still kind of make it out. Whoops.
As with 2017, a lot of my food photography was for The Infatuation. As always, these are just a few of my faves and are not sorted by deliciousness. Check out their list for best new restaurants in 2018 for things organized by deliciousness.
I’ve always had a love and hate relationship with photos of unmade beds. It’s a type of internet photo that you see endlessly and sometimes it just makes me cringe. “Slightly sexual unmade beds” are right next to “sad skinny white girls” and “poverty porn” in my bucket of most disliked photography tropes. The thing is, eating in bed is glorious and it’s particularly wonderful in a hotel bed because you don’t need to worry about crumbs as much. So I took these photos to remember easy eating in bed moments but I never shared them.
New York, New York
Since becoming a photographer, I’ve been traveling to New York a lot. At the moment, I make the trek over in the spring and fall. I have an endless list of New York City spots I want to hit up (for food & photography) and I try to make a small dent every time I’m there, from babka to pizza to delis.
I really enjoy putting these year end reflections together. Eli and I usually take some time off in December and it’s a good moment to catch my breath, to think and to just be. As I was putting together this year’s food photographs, I kept glancing through last year’s set. Sometimes, I feel like I can clearly see my work evolving. Sometimes, I don’t. Maybe in 5 years the jumps will be clearer.