I receive a lot of messages through the various media outlets I participate in. The overwhelming majority of them are from people that are interested in learning more about food photography because of my role as workshop instructor and writer. I welcome the inquiries about upcoming events and the quick questions about cameras or lighting techniques. Most of the people who reach out are just like I was about 12 years ago…looking to reinvent themselves.
I also get the occasional college student or recent grad looking to hone their skills further or a pro shooter from a different discipline looking for some advice on how to tweak their approach for food. Mostly adults looking to find what they need to make a career or advance a hobby in food photography.
Then there was Sabriina Costa. I do not know Sabriina…she was just an email address and a request for some help which I gladly gave her. She sent me an email, like lots of others I get for a quick bit of advice about how to pick some equipment and how to diffuse light in a way appropriate for food. She did some research on the web, found me, looked at my work and decided I would be a good guy to ask. This all seemed pretty normal to me until the follow up email I got this week.
Sabriina Costa is a student at Westbourne Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia. She is 15 years old and decided to write and photograph a cookbook about her family and traditions and in particular the recipes of her Nonna. She took on this project, from what I could gather from her emails, with her grandmother about a year ago as a school assignment. What it has morphed into is an amazing testament to her love for her family. She has dedicated the project to the memory of her grandfather, her Nonno, who passed away from cancer in 2006. She is selling her book online and will be donating 100% of the proceeds to the Cancer Council.
As many of you may already know my blog was created in the memory of my Sicilian great-grandmother, who we called Mama. I helped Sabriina not really knowing what she was trying to do but the realization of what she has accomplished and what led her there sent chills up my spine.
The book is called Segreti Della Nostra Cucina or Secrets from Our Kitchen. I love this title. It speaks to the passion and intimacy that a true Italian kitchen really has. It reminds me of what I love about the way I learned how to cook. It makes me feel that the connection I feel to the foods of my childhood and the people I shared them with is a universal emotion. These feeling go to the core of why I do what I do. It is obviously what has driven Sabriina to do the same. I am more than happy to help her raise money for cancer…something I have my own intimate experience with since my mother, Terry, is a 12-year survivor. I am also quite impressed with the writing and photography in her book.
I am honored to have played even the smallest part in helping her produce a work so filled with love for people and a culture so similar to the things that inspired me and my career. Buy her book…it’s money well spent.