CASE STUDY: Solar System


Client: Personal Project

Creative direction: My frequent collaborator, the food stylist Kristin Stangl, had a thought: What if we used food to represent the Solar System? That question inspired our self-directed series of images. We researched each planet and the sun, using food and cooking techniques to capture characteristics like temperature, topography and atmosphere. We show the sun as a golden disc of caramelized sugar. Venus, with its volcanic landscape and average temperature of more than 800°F, is represented with a French onion soup topped with molten cheese. Earth is an arrangement of salt-baked fish and lettuces to depict its surface of water and land. We both loved researching and creating this personal project. 

Crew: Food stylist Kristin Stangl

CASE STUDY: Culture Magazine- Doughnuts & Cheese


Client: Culture magazine

Creative direction: Donuts and cheese might not seem like natural partners, but the editorial team from Culture magazine celebrated this unexpected (and unexpectedly delicious!) combination. For their annual pairings issue, I worked with the magazine’s editor and outside design firm Red Herring to capture different cheese pairings, including jam, wine, honey—and, yes, donuts! We also shot a layout that featured hand lettering created with honey. I love working with clients who are passionate about what they do, and the Culture team are such enthusiastic collaborators. 

Crew: Culture magazine editor, Red Herring (agency) art director, food stylist, cheesemonger


CASE STUDY: Anne of Green Gables

Client: Quarto Publishing

Creative direction: L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” is a classic of children’s literature, with its depiction of the heroine’s life on Prince Edward Island in the early 20th century. For this reissue of “The Anne of Green Gables Coobkook,” written by Montgomery’s granddaughter, we re-created the era and setting of Anne’s story. We photographed the 25 recipes, all inspired by foods mentioned in Montgomery’s beloved book, on location in a circa-1900s home in Upstate New York. An inspiration board guided our choices of vintage wallpapers, linens, tea service and other props — the shoot was a delightful step back in time. 

Crew: Quarto art director, food stylist, food stylist assistant, photo assistant

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CASE STUDY: Tyson Tastemakers

Client: Tyson Tastemakers brand

Creative direction: It was exciting for me to be in on the ground floor of a totally new brand from Tyson. Tastemakers is a line of prepared meal kits sold in retail stores and through Amazon. Because the brand competes with meal-delivery services, we wanted the images to look professional, yet approachable. Over a multi-day shoot in Chicago, I produced a series of three different types of images: straightforward product shots on white seamless, finished dishes in table settings, and groupings of ingredients and dishes on a marble background. Working with the agency and client teams, I created images that show the consumer what the cooked meal looks like in an appetizing, engaging way.  

Crew: VML: account team, creative director, producer. Tyson: brand manager & associate brand manager. Photo: digital tech, prop stylist, prop assistant, food stylist, food stylist assistant, producer, production coordinator

CASE STUDY: Jimmy Dean

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Client: Jimmy Dean

Creative direction: This project for Jimmy Dean had two components: a library of recipe photos and a series of product shots. I worked closely with the creative teams from agencies VML and Ogilvy and from the client in studios in Chicago and New York. We developed a contemporary, casual look for the recipes, using texture, color and carefully placed fresh elements to give a warm and inviting feel. For the product series, we placed the items in a sunny kitchen setting, as if they’d just been unpacked from a grocery bag. 

Crew: Creative teams from VML, Ogilvy and the client; food stylist, food stylist assistant; prop stylist, prop stylist assistant; photo assistant

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Client: Wine Spectator

Creative direction: I loved that this editorial shoot let me explore a different visual style. I worked with the team from Wine Spectator and chef Victor Flores on the cover and feature package for the magazine’s tequila issue. In fact, the style was also a departure for the magazine, which usually spotlights bottles against a white background; instead, the textured blue backdrop for the cover makes the whole scene almost look painted. For the article spotlighting Chef Flores’s recipes, we referenced cookbooks and food magazines from the 1970s. The photos feature lots of bold color, stylized propping, strong light and deep shadows to evoke a lavish holiday meal in the chef’s native Mexico. 

Crew: Prop stylist, prop stylist assistant, Wine Spectator photo director and editor, chef Victor Flores and his assistant



Client: Personal project

Creative direction: I’m constantly looking to explore new creative directions, play with different looks and develop new styles for my photography — it’s part of my life as a creative person. Food stylist Julia Choi and I had fun producing this series of color studies based on Pantone’s 2017 color forecast. Inspired by hues like Flame, Yarrow and Greenery (Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year), we assembled a group of images showcasing bold colors, simple props, natural light and deep shadows. We created a bit of movement in each image — drizzling honey, scattered crumbs — to give the work a dynamic quality. The project offered a great opportunity to test ideas and techniques that Julia and I can bring to our client work.

Crew: food stylist

CASE STUDY: Gregory's Coffee


Client: Gregory's Coffee

Creative direction: We wanted these photos to make you feel like you’re standing in a Gregory’s Coffee store: surrounded by sights, enticing aromas and activity. We created a full library of images for the company’s new website and mobile app, shooting in one of their cafés, in Gregory’s roasting facility and bakery. My visual approach sparked from the brand’s black logo and “rural industrial” interior aesthetic; I used dark backgrounds and high contrast to make the coffee drinks and baked goods really pop. Shooting on location with real employees brought a vibrant energy to the images, making Gregory’s feel like “the place to be.

Crew: Prop stylist, food stylist, photo assistant

CASE STUDY: Black and White

Client: Personal project

Creative direction: After working on a number of client projects involving bold color, I wanted to experiment with black and white. Master food stylist Charlotte Omnès and I collaborated on this series: We gathered interesting food products and kitchen tools, and assembled them into vignettes based on a whimsical or eye-catching central object. We created distinctive groupings of food and objects that reminded us of classical still life paintings. As you can tell we were heavily inspired by Irving Penn. Each shot has a theme, like “Hunter-Gatherer,” which includes bones, plants, quail eggs and other unexpected items.

I always wondered why there isn’t much BW food photography out there, and after I finished this personal project, I understand why! Light, shadow and arrangement are especially challenging when you’re working in black and white. Explorations like this allow me to sharpen my skills and expand my capabilities.


Crew: food stylist Charlotte Omnès

CASE STUDY: Simply Pho

Client: Race Point Publishing

Creative direction: Shooting images for the cookbook, “Simply Pho: A Complete Course in Preparing Authentic Vietnamese Meals at Home” offered me a deep dive into the flavors, ingredients and traditions of a cuisine that I love, but not know much about. Author Helen Le is known for her YouTube channel with how-to videos that teach home cooks how to make pho, bánh mì and other specialties. Helen provided guidance from her home in Vietnam, and our team food stylist Julia Choi and assistant stylist Erika Joyce, made sure the props and serving ideas were authentic. I loved virtually exploring the country and its food culture on this project. 

Crew: art director, editor, food stylist, assistant food stylist, photo assistant

CASE STUDY: American Food


Client: Personal Project

Creative direction: So often, my projects involve photographing seasonal, healthy food … and I was hungry for a creative challenge that took me in a totally different direction. For our series “American Heroes,” food stylist Nicole Twohy, prop stylist Ed Gallagher and I set out to capture iconic American dishes: donuts, burgers, hot dogs, chicken and waffles. We had a blast collaborating on this purely self-directed creative exploration that celebrates the classic tastes of American food.  

Crew: Food stylist Nicole Twohy, prop stylist Ed Gallagher 


CASE STUDY: InstantPot

Client: InstantPot

Creative direction: For this official cookbook for a new brand of electric pressure cooker (a slow cooker with all kinds of additional settings and functions), I took the lead in developing the art direction. Working with the food stylist and the client, we created a look that’s fun, approachable and welcoming to a broad audience of home cooks. The photography has a vintage cookbook kind of look, with ingredients and finished dishes shot on bold backgrounds with pops of additional color. With 50 images taken over 5 days, the shoot needed a smart gameplan (one of my strong suits) to stay on track and organized.

Crew: art director, editor, food stylist/author, assistant food stylist, prop stylist, photo assistant

CASE STUDY: Culture magazine

Client: Culture magazine

Creative direction: How do you make a wedge of cheese look interesting? It’s all about design and propping — and about working with an experienced cheesemonger who knows how to bring out each cheese’s visual best. The design team at Culture magazine envisioned a comic book-like graphic style for their Best Cheeses of the Year special issue. I worked closely with the magazine’s art director to anticipate the layout needs and to shoot each cheese — about 100 in all — to support the design. We photographed featured cheeses on colored backgrounds for the chapter openers and on white backgrounds with minimal propping for interior pages. Who knew Feta could look so beautiful?

Crew: art director, cheesemonger

CASE STUDY: Laura Silverman

Client: Laura Silverman

Creative direction: On her much-followed website Glutton For Life, Laura shares stories and recipes inspired by her life in rural Pennsylvania. A former art director for Bergdorf Goodman, Laura has a natural talent for design and style. Laura and I worked together to create a series of short web videos to expand her brand and web presence. We shot video during an extended shoot, with Laura providing creative direction; I then edited the work into 60-second videos and 15-second trailers for Instagram.

Crew: video assistant, food assistant

CASE STUDY: Cooking with Nonna

Client: Rossella Rago

Creative direction: This shoot for the cookbook “Cooking with Nonna” was an absolute delight, because I had the opportunity to work closely with author Rossella Rago and her grandmother. Rossella built her culinary brand via YouTube, where she shares videos of her cooking with Italian grandmothers (nonnas). Her recipes are classic Italian dishes that involve multiple steps (like making homemade pasta and preparing long-cooking sauces), so the shoot took place over six days in a private kitchen. Working with the art director, we created a homey, comfortable look using props that might have come from a nonna’s kitchen. Rossella and her family were very hands-on in preparing the dishes, which gave the shoot an authentic family atmosphere. I was thrilled that the publisher chose my portrait of Rossella and her nonna for the book’s cover.

Crew: food stylist, assistant food stylist, author’s family, art director/publisher, editorial director

CASE STUDY: Flavor Bombs

Clients: Chef Giovannina Bellino and Quarto Publishing

Creative direction: What a great culinary concept: Chef Giovannina Bellino has developed recipes for what she calls “flavor bombs” — frozen cubes of intense sauce or stock that home cooks can add to dishes. For her book Flavor Bombs, food stylist Charlotte Omnès and I developed the photography style to bring Giovannina’s concept to life: bright, beautiful ingredients showcased on black backgrounds, so the colors explode off the page. Every photo is loaded with visual interest, from dynamically placed ingredients to a little bit of messiness in the scene. Working with artificial light, I photographed 17 flavor bombs and 20 accompanying recipes. 

Crew: art director, editor, food stylists, food assistant, photo assistant