Culinary Optics: Andrew Scrivani in the Studio Slideshow

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Behind the scenes in a food photographer’s studio

Background

The Daily Meal: Andrew, tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into photography? Are you self-taught or did you go to school to get a degree in photography?

Andrew Scrivani: I do not have a degree in photography but I wouldn’t exactly call myself “self-taught.” I spent a good amount of time in photo classes and studios at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The only catch was that I was not enrolled as a student there. I was enrolled across the street at Baruch College, studying English Literature. I would drift across the street to hang out with my friend at SVA and I gleaned an awful lot about photography during those years. In subsequent years, I took some formal classes in photography at Pratt Institute.

Food & Lifestyle

TDM: Why food and lifestyle photography? How do you think food and lifestyle photography is different from the other genres of photography?

AS: I think food in particular and the lifestyles and cultures that surround foods are a glimpse into who we are as people. Our likes and desires, our customs and history all revolve around the foods we eat and gather with. Food offers me an opportunity to be an artist and an anthropologist and a psychologist among other things with each picture. I think a lot. I like to tell stories about people and food offers me so much history to draw from that I find it an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

Style

TDM: When we look at your images, we can tell that it is an Andrew Scrivani image, how did you develop that signature style or was it a natural progression?

AS: I think it was certainly an evolution. I am always, hopefully, maturing and growing as an artist and my style has become more defined. I think that recently I have been exploring ways to expand upon what is my “style.” I think my style grew from my love of macro approaches to food and to this day I always start very close to my subject and gradually move further away. Seeing subjects this way helps me focus on small details and the beautiful abstractions I am drawn to.

Planning

TDM: How do you plan your photo shoots? There are so many factors, light, colors, props, textures the food, placement, and so much more….how do you put this all together so seamlessly?

AS: Planning a photo shoot for me always begins with the recipe, then the ingredients, the season and the culture it is borne in. All of those things influence how I plan the lighting, propping, and overall feel of the shoot. From there, once those things are settled, I become strictly a photographer and decide how to technically approach the subject matter. My angles, lens selections, camera setting, and technical lighting are determined after the styling is in place. This method ultimately helps me relax and see the things I need to concentrate on when I shoot. I get pretty intense and focused and I like things to be a certain way. So, if those things are decided I am easier to work with.

Audience

TDM: What, according to you, makes a winning food photograph?

AS: A good photograph is one that makes its audience feel something. That may be a really simple answer but that’s exactly how I feel. If you can change the thoughts and feelings of an audience with an image, then you have made a good photograph.

Inspiration

TDM: As a man who has inspired so many of us, we are curious to know: What inspires Andrew Scrivani?

AS: I am truly inspired by all kinds of art. I love to look at paintings and sculpture and especially architecture and furniture design.  Shape, form, color, and light are the basics of all artwork and since food photography is so reliant upon other artists (chefs who create the dishes, the artists who make the props we use, etc.) I find immense inspiration there.

Gear

TDM: Tell us a little about your gear and studio.  

AS: I use Canon 5DM3 cameras, 50MM macro lenses from Canon and Zeiss, a 100MM Macro Lens from Canon as well as a 35MM lens and a 28-70MM zoom lens from Canon. I have other equipment but these are my go-to pieces.

I have a studio dedicated to food photography with a fully functional kitchen, many props, surfaces, and beautiful southwest exposure to natural light. I also use some strobe and steady lighting for both tabletop/still life shoots and video.

Advice

TDM: Can you offer a word of advice for aspiring photographers?

AS: If food photography is what you want to do, then study and understand everything that is involved in producing a food photo shoot. It is a very complex business that many people, even those who have been involved in professional photography for many years, do not fully understand. The more you understand the better your chances of success in this business will be. Then, remember this…Don’t ever let your artist’s soul get in the way of being a good business person.