Over my past 13 years here at Padilla, food photography projects continue to remain one of my absolute favorites. There is something about the camaraderie and collaborative spirit that arises in the studio and kitchen that happens so organically and creates a fun and inspiring day for all involved. Most wouldn’t see a beautiful food image and think of the time it took to create it but when I look at a finished photo, I immediately think of all the components that went into it — and more so the many people that brought it to life.
At Padilla’s culinary studio, The Cookery, we’ve had the pleasure of working with an elite group of recipe developers, stylists and food photographers over the years. This week, I met with Tina Rupp, a friend of the agency and food photographer based in New York. I asked her if she would offer some insights and more about her experiences in the industry. Her thoughts are below:
How did you first get involved in food photography?
After college I began assisting photographers that specialized in a variety of subjects and I just loved food photography!
What is one of your most favorite projects you’ve worked on recently?
My favorite project of late was shooting Oprah Winfrey’s Food Health and Happiness cookbook. We created over 100 photographs and the book design is simply beautiful. Last, but not least, I have always LOVED Oprah!
What do you think the most challenging types of images to capture are?
Capturing steam and pouring shots are always a bit of a challenge to get perfect. Ever morphing, you need patience!
How do you think the way we look at food visually has changed over the years?
I have been in the business since 1998 and started my own business in 2002. When I began shooting, it was with film. Since then of course, I shoot digitally. During the days of film, it was trendy to use cooling filters for food photography, then we started using pure clean natural light, and at the moment food is photographed with harsh directional lighting that was once only used to shoot still life. In the age of Instagram, we are also very used to seeing food from overhead, as the iPhones distort food shots quite a bit if shooting on an angle.
Any pointers for food photography beginners?
I have taught a semester of photography to middle school students, which I found to bring me back to basics. After years of shooting, things are second nature, I never even use a light meter anymore for artificial lighting! So my advice to beginners is to learn to see light and work on composition. Try to practice capturing and not relying on Photoshop and/or Instagram filters to perfect your image. Really learn to see.
To learn more about Tina and her work, visit: