A Feast for the Eyes: A Toast to Visual Tastemakers
Four food photography phenoms whose work you’ll relish
Our taste buds might be the most obvious culinary judges we possess. But, as the saying goes, we eat with our eyes first — and no one understands this better than a food photographer.
Six years after the daguerrotype, an early cousin to the photograph, was developed, the first known food snapshot — A Fruit Piece, by William Henry Fox Talbot — emerged. The genre soon exploded as an integral element of the advertising industry during the 20th century. Recently, it has only seen more innovations and interpretations with the advent of social media, where the hashtag #foodphotography will bring you over 75 million shots. The professional realm is thriving as well: Specialty photographers combine intimate knowledge of visual principles with a passion for food to deliver inspired images for us to feast our eyes on.
Below is an introduction to four visionary photographers who tantalize the senses with their vibrant and imaginative epicurean masterpieces.
Food on the Front Page
If you’ve ever admired the New York Times’ beauty shots of meats, sweets, and everything in between, there’s a good chance you’ve eyed Andrew Scrivani’s work. The Staten Island native credits his Sicilian grandmother’s homemade fare with sparking his love of food. His career with the Times began in 2002, when he photographed his hometown’s beloved Egger’s Ice Cream parlor for the dining section of the paper. Though his specialty was not food photography, he embraced the challenge with aplomb — and it paid off.
“The lesson I learned and continue to share with photographers looking to get in the business is simple,” he says in his book, That Photo Made Me Hungry. “Be confident, and when the door is open a crack, don’t peek in — kick it down.”
Today, with thousands of mouthwatering photographs under his belt, the lensman has contributed to cookbooks, produced films, shot numerous print, television, and commercial campaigns, and built one of the most respected resumes in the business.
Food in Action
For many food photographers, their work is purpose-driven — meant to entice the viewer to order from a menu, head to the grocery store, or make magic in their own kitchen. Isabella Cassini, on the other hand, accentuates the pure visual splendor of foodstuffs. Her arresting shots tap into the dynamic and kinetic potential of food, drink, and even packaging.
The Portland, Oregon-based photographer specializes in commercial work and advertising, with an eye for the unconventional that has won her numerous industry accolades including the International Photography Awards and Photo District News. And it’s the movement, not just the morsels, in her work that’s so satisfying: from the ingredient tapestries of her Kaleidoscope collection to her electrifying Splashes, Crashes, and Smashes series, her work invites both the palate and the eyes to dance.
Food That’s Kitchen-Tested
Jerelle Guy knows cuisine from the inside out: the baker, food stylist, recipe developer, and photographer doesn’t just shoot dishes — she cooks them, too. At just 30, she runs a Dallas-based food photography studio, EJC and the hit foodie blog Chocolate for Basil, and has also published a James Beard-nominated cookbook.
Guy, who embraced veganism as a teenager, has carved a niche among food influencers and photographers, with an emphasis on healthy, often vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free eats. Her popular feeds are full of enticing savory dishes and baked goods, with captivating shots that are often accompanied by anecdotes about sharing the flavors with friends and family.
Food That’s Ready for Its Closeup
Born to a food-loving family in Northern Italy, Mauro Turatti learned about camerawork from an uncle, and eventually joined the photography department of the Italian army while stationed in Florence. Since then, Turatti has established a respected and diverse portfolio, rising the ranks in the advertising and editorial worlds, collaborating with a roster of leading brands, operating a studio out of Milan, and working in locations like Dubai, Istanbul, and Paris.
Turatti has situated his lens on household products, luxury goods, and more, but his gastronomic portraits truly pop. His playful compositions and lush closeups emphasize texture, form, geometry, and dimension of ingredients, seasonings, and sauces. You’re almost guaranteed to come away from his work with a new perspective on your pantry.
Danilo Diazgranados is an investor, collector, and lover of fine wines and a member of the prestigious Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a fraternity of Burgundy wine enthusiasts.