My Chefs

I’ve updated my “Team Tony” portfolio book. It is available for viewing here. Chef Tony is a recipe developer and is the producer for many shoots. Some of his clients that I’ve shot for are Wholesum Harvest Farms, Stello Foods and of course Chef Tony Merola Gourmet Specialties. Tony does a great job putting together all the pieces of a photo shoot…a true producer. Along with my amazing food stylist, Chef Michael Giletto, Team Tony has produced some AWESOME images. I hope you enjoy them and I welcome your comments.

To view this book you need Flash so, it doesn’t work on an iPad or iPhone. Click on the bottom right hand corner of the book to change the page.

I am adding this addendum on 9/14/2013 – a couple of weeks after this post. I was greatly honored when I received a message from, the company that I used to make my photo books, asking me if they can use my photo book as one of their samples at the PhotoPlus Expo coming this October to the New York City Jacob Javitz Center. Thank you Adorama.

Adorama is using my other photo book for WPPI in February. Take a look at it here.

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Went on vacation to Kennebunkport, Maine. Had a great time. Here are some photos.

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Last few days you can vote for me

The See.Me Exposure 2013 contest is coming to an end. Please take the time to look at my portfolio and vote for me. See.Me is an interesting community of artists and photographers promoting their art.Food Photography Cover Photo

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Making Chocolate Look Good

Chocolate Truffles

I love chocolate. Unfortunately, chocolate doesn’t love me – I am diabetic. I truly enjoy shooting chocolate. I get a chance to create beautiful images surrounded by beautiful aroma and I get to lick my fingers when I’m done.

Chocolate Swirl

Chocolate however, is as bad as the mother of the bride when it comes to thinking that it is looking good. (Has any mother of the bride liked the way that she looked in photos?) Scratches, dust, fingerprints, holes, blooming- everything but wrinkles. So, what’s a photographer to do? Well, a good stylist is great at minimizing the blemishes on chocolate but, they can’t work miracles. A gentle amount of heat can also help but, overdoing it and melting it, makes the chocolate look worse than it started.

Creamy Chocolate Truffles

I’ve found a secret in post production. Granted, I am not a professional retoucher, nor do I even play one on TV so, I am not sharing the secrets that they possess. I wish that I could do what they do but, I’ve found a technique that has served me well.

It’s a combination of the spot healing brush, clone tool and my deep dark secret. If you’re nice, I’ll tell you.

Comparing retouched and un-retouched chocolate

Since chocolate reminded me of the mother of the bride, I decided to treat them in the same way and use the tools that can soften skin to soften chocolate. It works! Not as well as a professional retoucher but, it really helps. Compare the two images of this milk free, nut free, gluten free chocolate. (Why couldn’t it be sugar free as well?)

Oh, one more thing – I was just reminded when commenting on someone else’s photo. White balance is very important. It is better to err on the side of being warmer rather than being cooler. Blue chocolate is definitely not appetizing.

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In the Classical Style (not Gangnam Style)

Bowl of Fruit Still Life

Someone of FaceBook posted an amazing still life with fruit, cheese, old wood – a real classic look of the old masters. (It’s in a group so, I don’t know if you can see it but, here’s a link.) I thought that this was the best thing since black plexiglass in the 80s.

A few hours later, my client calls, and says that she has a new product and can I do a shoot? Sure, I can. I’m always happy to shoot. The new product is chocolate dipped dried fruit. (I wish I can share it with you but, sorry, not yet.) SO, she brings over the products and also brings over fresh fruit in the flavors that she used. I finished the shoot but, never used the fresh fruit. Then the lightbulb over my head went on. (Did you hear a “bing” in the background because, I did as I wrote this.) I’ll try a classical style still life with her fruit and include her product.

Still Life Fruit Bowl with OrangeThat was the motivation I needed. I got her shot and then I kept going, and going, and going. At the end of the night (and this morning with more editing) I was very pleased with my Classic Still Life. I kept it dark (too dark for my wife, sorry dear) and painted in the light in PhotoShop. Hope you like them as well.

Pano still life with kiwi Low Res FB


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Inspiration Can Be Expensive

If you’ve read my last post on the workshop in Gulf Shores, Alabama, you probably realize that I have been motivated and inspired to do food photography with natural light (not available light – I’ve been corrected) with shallower depth of field or a top down view.

Seafood Salad and Rice Top Down View

So, what happens next? Practice, practice, practice. I intend to practice these techniques so  much that I can end up in Carnegie Hall (I’ve heard that you get to Carnegie Hall with practice, practice, practice.)

But, practicing photography only works when you are motivated to make beautiful images so, I needed props and food to photograph. I went shopping! Did you know that Kohl’s and J.C.Penny have beautiful plates, bowls, napkins and towels? I spent over $200. and that’s without food. And next – Home Goods!

Stuffed Mushroom with lunch

Since I don’t cook, (I don’t even prepare! – the closest I come is warming up leftovers in the microwave or on a good day, making a simple omelet) I went to Wegman’s because they really know how to cook.

I purchased some rice, macaroni salad, seafood salad and bread and got to work.

The biggest problem was finding light. The best I could do was use the sliding door in the sunroom (the room in which we just purchased a custom designed rug – I’d better not spill anything!)

Mac and Cheese with seafood

I set up on the floor but, couldn’t bring in the dirty old wood with the new rug. I had a small piece of cork paper for one shot and one of the new napkins for the next. I definitely have to get more surfaces…I would love some white washed vintage wood – does anybody have some fore me?

So, these photos are the results of my first attempt at setting up the food and shooting with natural light on the floor. I still don’t think there is anything natural about setting up food on the floor. Thankfully, nothing made it on to the rug.

Tomorrow – it’s Bed, Bath and Beyond and more shopping.Top Down seafood Salad, rice and stuffed mushroom

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The Perfect Weekend Workshop in Alabama

Meringue Cookies

The Dessert Challenge – Meringue Cookies

Ham Sandwich

I was stylist – dark and moody

It is times like this that I wish I was a writer in addition to being a photographer. I would have more words to express the feelings that I have about the most fantastic weekend that I just had.

To cut to the chase, I was at a food photography workshop with Helene Dujardin and Clare Barboza. I’ve read Helene’s book, Plate to Pixel, but to be perfectly honest and slightly embarrassed, I had never heard of Clare until I registered for this conference. If you are reading this, stop now and click on their links and spend some time looking at their amazing work (just don’t forget to come back.)


Welcome back. The workshop was with our two mentors, chef and stylist Laura Vein (boy, was that food good!), her assistant and two time workshop participant, Libby and twelve other photographers. These four amazing women catered to the every need of all the attendees, from about five different types of milk for coffee and probably a dozen different types of wine-lots of wine :) and of course, our photographic needs.

Red PearThe workshop took place in a beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I was very excited about it because I love Helene and Clare’s work and it is all natural light. I needed to be pushed to do more natural light.

Grape Tomato

Everyone lived in the house which comfortably fit the 17 of us. We were living and working together the entire time…this made it extremely special. From early morning breakfast, until going to sleep, we lived and worked as a well oiled machine. It was amazing! I could hardly wait for the next day to begin.

Beef Vegetable Soup

We were issued challenges, some working alone and some working in pairs but, always helping each other and learning from each other. Helene and Clare would circulate while we were shooting and offer the most amazing suggestions and more importantly, confidence building. They found the positive in everyone’s work and built on it.

Strawberry salad

I am photographer on the produce challenge

Meringue Cookies

Meringue Cookies

So, there were five challenges. First was dessert. Laura put out a million different types of dessert and we chose what we wanted to shoot and and found ourselves a light source (window or door) to work with. The second challenge was Antipasto. Same thing…lots to choose from. On the second day, we worked in teams of two with two challenges. Each team were issued slightly different challenges. In one challenge you were the stylist and the other you were the photographer…team building at its best. My partner and I had a dark and moody sandwich for a cookbook and produce for an ad in minimalist style.

Beef and Vegetable Soup The final day was about ugly food. We were each issued a can of soup and told to make it look beautiful. I can’t believe how a dozen photographers can take a dozen cans of soup and make a dozen works of art. Awesome. (Of course I would like to take credit for the success of my photo but, it was really Helene and Clare that provided the guidance and expertise.)

Sandwich Ingredients

Sandwich Cookbook – Dark and Moody

We summed up with our mentors and new friends giving a critique of 6 images from the weekend. What was most amazing is seeing the progress made by each and every one of us in only three short days. This was the most amazing workshop and if you are interested in food photography, I highly recommend it. Helene, Clare, Laura, Libby and my fellow attendees and newest friends – you are the best!

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