Hawaii Retreat…the Movie!

Leigh Olson…our intrepid burgeoning journalist…was stealthily recording our time together with the fantastic group of people who joined us for the 7-day food photography retreat we just held on the Big Island of Hawaii. If it looks like we had fun…this is just the tip of the iceberg…or the volcano…or you know.


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Merry Christmas…with a Cake!

Last month, I was tasked with shooting a Bouche de Noel for Melissa Clark’s  Good Appetite column. I had never made or shot one before and I knew that this particular recipe, inspired by the great Dorie Greenspan, had to be aces. I also knew that when Melissa made her’s she had a ringer in the kitchen….Dorie herself. The pressure was on…but I have my own superstar on the bench to call on when in need of a big pinch hit…none other than my great friend, pastry maestro, Pichet Ong.

I have also formed a creative partnership with my former assistant Devon Knight and his editing partner Jason Lee to begin to shoot and direct food videos. We decided that this was a good chance to give our new collaboration a whirl…interesting, seasonal subject matter, a brand name talent on board and a recipe by a legend.

Here is the result…plus some snappy music to rock to while you roll. Merry Christmas!!!

Directed by: Andrew Scrivani

DP: Devon Knight

Editor: Jason Lee

Starring: The Hands of Pichet Ong



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Filed under Devon, Food Styling, Food Tips, video

Adventures in Cabinet Hunting…


So, I was searching for new kitchen cabinets while spending a usual weekend trolling around in Red Hook, Brooklyn for hipster food and annoyingly disassembled Swedish furniture, when I found something truly unusual. I saw a sign and a large trailer across from the Fairway parking lot that said “Affordable German Kitchens”. I was dubious…but went into the warehouse nonetheless to satisfy my curiosity since I was just told that the cabinets I liked at IKEA would arrive in 127 boxes and needed assembly before installation.

I walked in to see a very fit man in a track suit standing in the bottom drawer of a very modern, European style kitchen cabinet. Standing in the drawer!!! He was demonstrating for another couple just how durable the cabinets were. My interest was piqued. The whole concept of German Kitchen Design is based on the incredibly simple idea that functionality…like a drawer to keep your pots and pans in instead of reaching to the back of a huge cabinet on your hands and knees…is primary. Just realizing how this changes your quality of life, when you cook all the time, is incredible. Truly one of those moments when you see just how easy things can be if just a bit of thought goes into it. Design, functionality and you can stand up in them as a parlor trick….I’m in…if the price is right.

We looked through the showroom and were enamored with the sleek designs and and were convinced it was out of our price range, for sure. The man in the track suit, Glenn, who has energy like a hurricane on caffeine and a voice like he has been gargling with broken glass, assured us that what he was showing us was indeed “affordable” and walked us through the process.  We were still skeptical, but we really liked him and agreed to have him come and measure our kitchen and give us a price on the design we liked.

In the business we are in, our kitchen has to be the centerpiece of our home and it was important for it to represent how important food is in our lives. Glenn completely understood this and designed something that was not only what we wanted but also allowed me to keep my lungs…liver and kidneys.

I include Glenn’s business here for a few reasons…first,  because I am really, really happy with his service…and of course because I can. Second, to spread the word. The company he represents is a fixture in Germany but is just starting to get recognition here in the US. Nobilia not only has been a standard in global kitchen design for decades in Europe but began their US business outreach by helping Hurricane Sandy victims rebuild their homes. My Staten Island roots make me even more sensitive to this issue than most and their love for my hometown makes me want to see them succeed here. They are not just in Brooklyn but in Manhattan and expanding to many cities across the US, so even if you are reading this in other places you should still check them out. I am a big fan…especially since price wise they proved to be competitive with the DIY IKEA stuff with quality and design that are far superior. You can certainly see where IKEA get their design ideas from. 127 boxes!!! I’m sorry…but who has time for that.

I will follow up with a post once my kitchen is installed and show you exactly what I mean…but in the meantime…check out their site and this preliminary design that they drew up for free.


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New Online Food Photography Workshop…

photoSo what’s a Craftsy? I had to ask myself that question too when I was contacted by the representatives from Craftsy to teach a beginners online course in Food Photography, Food Styling and Propping. What I came to learn is that Craftsy is a tremendous resource to learn all sorts of creative endeavors from their bread and butter knitting and quilting classes to cooking and now food photography.  Even my Recipes for Health partner Martha Rose Shulman has a great class there too.

The class is really affordable (59.99), it is chock full of really good explanations, with a football style tele-strator (that thing where you diagram plays over the screen) and you get to spend hours listening to me struggle to suppress my NY accent. It’s a win all around.

Join me there..check out all of the other great offerings and keep feeding your brain all sorts of great stuff. Enjoy.

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Filed under Craftsy, Food Photography Workshops, Food Styling, Photography, Propping

Photographers Unite…

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I wanted to reach out to photographers both professional and aspiring to be so…and everyone in between. I have been contacted recently, by more than a few entities regarding “participation” in social media campaigns for products, services and branding efforts. These requests have taken many forms but there is one particular type of request that really got me thinking.

I know we all have very complex relationships with social media and for many of us it is a way to not only interact with friends and colleagues but to also use as an online platform for our work. For photographers, the use of social media, Instagram & Twitter in particular, are in a some areas, replacing our portfolios. This makes for an even more careful approach to how our work is perceived in these spaces.

One of the other balancing acts photographers face, is the idea that as your following grows so does the marketability of your feed. This is what I believe I am experiencing as marketers look to access the people who follow me. This gets tricky as you need to weigh the benefits of monetizing your feeds or keeping them pure to your vision as an artist. I have chosen the latter. I truly see my feeds as extensions of my work and as an extension of my own “brand”. Truthfully, this terminology turns my stomach but it is part of the reality of our business these days.

So, this latest, most disturbing turn involves a PR company calling me to ask if I would do a “takeover” of their Instagram feed for an event that they are promoting. They reference “terms & conditions” when making the request but it seemed pretty clear to me that these did not include any fees. When I requested clarification of what these “terms” were I got radio silence. I think people in many businesses that need visuals are finding that appealing to an artist’s vanity is an effective way to get free professionally made content. The use of the word “takeover” is a not so veiled reference to when TV music channels and radio stations have Lady Gaga “take over” the channel and play her music and a few of her favorite songs for a few hours….this is NOT the same thing.

I have been on record as saying that money is not the only compensation that artist can take in trade for their work. Exposure is clearly a good form of payment but I feel like the publicity monster really needs to be left a little hungry. Many entities…even ones without the platform to offer artists real publicity are acting as if this is an appropriate trade for services. Case in point…this Instagram “takeover”…the company in question phrased to me as an “opportunity” had 1/3 of the followers I have on Instagram. So…let me get this straight…you want me to come to your event…photograph it for free…and…post it on your social media accounts…What do I get out of this, exactly?

Here is an except of the response I sent this PR company:

It sounds interesting but unless “terms & conditions” means there is a day rate attached to this, then it still seems to me to be a photo assignment. It is an interesting model if it is and I’d be willing to discuss but if there is no compensation involved I’m afraid that as a professional photographer I’d have to decline. Please let me know because looking at social media as a platform for professional photo assignments seems very smart to me…assuming it’s not an end around on what we do to make a living. Thanks.

To this I got no response. I think that social media is a very legitimate way for photographers to earn money with their talents. It is ever more important that a company’s connection to their audience has a social media component. Good imagery and video can be essential to how successful that effort can be. We, as photographers, need to be mindful that our skills are very valuable in this marketplace and not to be sold cheaply. Flattery is not adequate payment. If you want professional imagery on your Facebook Page…then pay for it. If we as the professionals in this industry start giving away our wares for free, then nobody in the future will expect to have to pay for it.

If someone…anyone…wants you, professional or not to provide content….for a newspaper, magazine, website, publishing house or Instagram account…there is only one answer you must give….SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!


Filed under Food Photography Workshops, Photography

Burger Madness…

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I was asked to take this photo for last week’s Dining section for a story about how to cook a great burger…indoors or out. What ensued was a totally incredible social media response with so many Twitter notifications that I needed to turn my phone off. It always amazes me when something really resonates with a broad audience. It seems like such a simple equation after the fact…a classic food item…made accessible…with a cool twist…and an evocative picture. The perfect recipe for viral food.

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July 1, 2014 · 4:53 pm

Talk the Talk…


One of the clips from my most recent stint on creativeLIVE.com on Table Top Photography. Check it out here.

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Filed under creativeLIVE, Food Photography Workshops, Seattle, video