Food Friday #7

1.) How long have you been in the food styling business?

I have been prop styling for seven years. I started food styling about five years ago mostly out of necessity because several of the shoots I was styling were about entertaining and therefore involved food.  I’ve always been an avid cook, I’ve taken a lot of cooking classes, knife sills classes, etc. and also built my prop styling career by working in the restaurant business at night.

2.) What is your education background?

I have an undergraduate degree is in journalism and I worked in publishing both in Philadelphia and New York for several years before going back to school for photography.

3.) Who was your first break through client?

I’m not sure that I’ve ever had one break through client but there have been three employers on my career path who have given me significant guidance and opportunities.  The first is Barry Halkin, a Philadelphia architectural photographer who I worked for after graduating from art school.  He introduced me to the world of architecture and interior design.   Zave Smith, another Philadelphia photographer who I assisted for, introduced me to the idea of prop styling as a career and gave me a lot of opportunities to develop my styling skills on his shoots.   Anne Bigler, the Art Director for Philadelphia Home magazine gave me my first editorial styling job.  

4.) What do you enjoy styling the most?

I love styling food because it’s so precise.  I think fresh produce is the most beautiful thing in the world.

5.) Your site shows your wide variety of expertise, do you enjoy styling food or rooms more? 

I enjoy them both.  As I mentioned food styling is very precise and it allows me a professional outlet for my OCD.  Styling interiors gives me a chance to play with different styles of design because every location is so different.

Do you travel a lot for work? 

No, I don’t really travel for work.  I’m based in Philadelphia and most of my clients are located in Philadelphia, New York or D.C.

7.) Where do you find your prop? Stores, Trash cans? Best resource?

I’m definitely a collector.  I love thrift stores and yard sales.  My grandmother was an antique dealer and my mom displays a lot of her old glass, plate and cookware in her home.  I borrow from my mom regularly, and refer to her home as "my second prop closet". I’m also lucky enough to have a large group of friends who are collectors of all sorts of things from old cameras and tools to vintage fabrics and jewelry.  I’m shameless about hitting up everyone I know for props.

8.) Is a lot of your work word of mouth now? How hard was it to break into styling?  

Up until a year ago, all of my work came from word of mouth. Now I list myself on several online film and photo production directories and I find them to be very effective.  Breaking into styling was not very difficult for me but I’ve had a lot of very generous people passing my name along and many clients who have been very loyal even in challenging economy.

9.) Do you find yourself working with art directors or photographers more? Or is it a middle collaboration? 

I find that I collaborate with photographers and art directors equally.  Usually the art director presents an overall vision for a project and then the photographer and I will typically work together to bring it to life.  

10.)  Hardest thing you had to style.

I think the hardest thing I ever had to style was a grilled cheese sandwich.  I have some favorite cheeses that I like to work with but for this particular shoot I had to use the client’s products, which were not very cooperative.  Also, the art director was not at the shoot so the photographer had to quickly shoot each sandwich and email it to the art director.   Every time the art director wanted to make a change, the sandwich was already too old to shoot again.  I must have made 40-50 grilled cheese sandwiches that day in order to have a perfect option ready at all times. I do however, still enjoy a good grilled cheese!