I think it’s safe to state that most everybody eats and enjoys pizza. It’s a food that transcends nationality, political and religious differences, and class.
I like the childlike enthusiasm and messiness that it inspires. I like that it’s a homemade food that many top quality places continue to offer at a price point that does not burn a hole in my wallet. I love the variety of styles that exist. And of course, I love how terrific pizza looks in photographs.
These pictures are from New York places only. For more pizza pictures – and written stories about pizza and other food topics – check out my blog, pizzacentric.com.
I love it when multiple elements – either logical or disparate (it doesn’t matter) – combine within the background or alongside the featured person to add layers of intrigue. I also like people who, all on their own without any help from me, exude character. The funny thing is... most people have oodles of character!
When I’m asked to make food photos for a publication, agency, or food-related business, my goal is to create allure. The food must look great and the set-up needs to make sense.
I work with a number of talented food stylists, but when budgets are limited or when chefs prefer to plate food themselves I’m happy to go it alone.
There's no better way to show people's love for food than to incorporate the personalties, nuances, and actions that surround it. Cooks, eaters, oglers, bloggers, travelers, farmers, greengrocers, beekeepers, fisher-folk – most everybody – lights up when confronted with food greatness.
It’s the guy at Brennan & Carr who with native-Brooklyn-cool employs tongs to dunk your entire roast beef sandwich – including the bun! – into a basin of hot beef jus. It's Joe Ades, the vegetable peeler salesman (now deceased) who earned his living not solely due to the superiority of those peelers, but because of his infectious personality. And it's those hoards of people who wait in lines at restaurants in cities around the world all because they want what these places have.
Pictures of that embody food story-lines are the ones that make me most hungry!
Throughout my 25+ years living in New York I’ve rarely left my apartment without bringing a camera. My hope is always the same: to capture truthful moments that tell of this place and the ways in which its people coëxist. Young and old, native and new, naïve and hardened – I love that New York has every type, every culture, every normalness and and every weirdness represented. In order to experience it, all you need to do is step out onto the sidewalk and start walking.
I do fear that New York, with its hyper-escalating real estate prices, has become more and more monochromatic in the kinds of people who are able to make a start here. So with my camera, I now find myself searching for evidence of both what it's becoming and what it's always been.
These pictures are from late 2013 to present. Most are from below 14th Street or Brooklyn. I update the mix frequently. It’s a work in progress.
Photographs made for Dulce de Leche, an amazing Argentine bakery in West New York, NJ.
The empanadas (baked, not fried) are way better than any I’ve had in NYC. The ultra-thin “sandwiches de miga” are superior to any I tried in Buenos Aires when I was there in 2013. And the cakes, pastries, and any and all of the items that employ dulce de leche (caramel made from sweetened milk) – well, they’re good enough to give me a sweet tooth – and that’s not usually my thing.
I've also included screen shots from Dulce de Leche's finished site in the "Work - Restaurants" section, or you can check out Dulce de Leche's live website directly here - perhaps you'll want to place an order!
Two things initially drew me to New York City from my hometown of Washington, DC: my grandma, who lived in Bayside, Queens (when I was young I visited her a bunch of times; we would take the train into Manhattan),... and the subway.
(I'd like to write a story about her one day. She was the original intrepid eating adventurer in my family.)
But this section is about the subway – the other great New York presence that called me and called me until finally I figured it out and moved here.
Why do I love the subway so much? Because it works (except when it doesn't), because of the extent of its tracks, because it’s open 24/7, because for one fare you can ride from the bottom of Brooklyn to the top of the Bronx and still transfer for free to a bus, because it carries the diversity of New York City in tight quarters with everyone and everything on display. I love the tension, the ancient infrastructure that for the most part people barely seem to notice, and the fact that so much of this subway is aboveground.
I realize I'm no Walker Evans. But we also do not live in Walker Evans' era. Now, passengers gaze at devices and not so much at newspapers. Physical add-ons collude with that old infrastructure and present juxtapositions as if the whole system is one big exposed archeological dig and we're all tourists here on a visit. Well some of that is the truth. New York has many tourists. But it also has many workers and schoolchildren and people out shopping. It's got it all and it's got all these people and many of them, many many of them... are in the subway.
Chateau d’Uzer, a “chambre d’hôte” located in Ardèche, France, was owned by Eric and Muriel Chevalier, two extraordinary people whose array of talents, continuous hard work, exquisite taste in decor and food, and relaxed approach to service meant that every visitor was guaranteed a terrific time.
In 2007, I trailed alongside them for a couple of days to produce new photos for their website. It was impossible not to be blown away by the breadth of the work that they did: trying to fit a last-minute reservation into the books, shopping at a farmers’ market and a nearby farm, tasting and buying wine, picking herbs out back, scooping frogs from the pool with a net, cooking seemingly all the time, serving guests breakfast, and on certain evenings serving one dinner for children and a second (5 course) meal for adults.
The place is still there – and I’ve no doubt it is still lovely (and visit-worthy) – but Eric and Muriel sold it to a new owner in 2013. So for me it could never be the same.
(Eric and Muriel continue to operate a gîte property in the same region – link is here.)
This set of photos is as much a testament to the warmth of the Argentine people as it is to the quality and power of things when they're made in an old way.
I went to this place not to do a photo story, but to buy some shoes. But within moments of my asking the owner a few questions about the shoes and how they're made, he and his son insisted that my wife and I take a tour of the entire facility – all of which is right behind the shop.
Correa, as the shop is called, will make shoes custom fit to your feet (see 4th photo), but I wasn't going to be in Buenos Aires long enough to have that done.
So I ended up buying a pair of brown suede desert boots (they’re the ones getting “cured” by fire in the first photo; they cost me US $100 and fit perfectly). Sadly, I passed on the green leather ones (see 2nd photo, just beyond the desert boots) – I continue to regret that decision.
I’ve been photographing my friend Alex, his parents and his brothers, and their friends and cousins in their home in Williamsburg for the past 15+ years.
Each floor has an apartment with a different family member. Alex lives on the 4th floor, his parents on the 2nd, and his brothers on 1 & 3. His great aunts used to live on the first floor but they passed away.
Alex and his brothers grew up in this house. There was another brother but he died as a child – he was hit by a car while riding his bike. I didn't know Alex then and I have no idea how he and his family were able to make it through the sadness.
I love visiting this house and I love Alex and his family. His dad has made dozens of miniature wood churches. He even wires some of them with lights. There’s a workshop with many tools in the basement. Everyone hangs his/her clothes to dry on rope lines that run parallel but above the inner hall bannisters. There are lots of plants. One of Alex's brothers makes paintings of naked people. He has a couple of birds, too.
Besides wanting to see my friend, the other reason I especially like to visit Alex's house is the love that has evolved over time between me and my wife and Alex’s parents, Carmen & Jose. We're always very happy to see each other. Sometimes, perhaps once a year, when we're able to plan in advance, Carmen cooks dinner for us. She even lets us invite friends. Her bacalao (salt cod) stewed with onions and peppers, her tostones (fried plantains lightly sprinkled with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt), and her rice with pigeon peas... you can't find better renditions of these things anywhere. Seriously.
Many of these photos are from the late 1990s and were shot on film. I have more newer ones but still need to decide which ones of those contribute best to the story.
These are all recent, from October 2013 to present.
Food photography (and writing) in print.
Restaurant and food-business photography that aims to capture the scrumptiousness of the food, compelling details of the settings in which the food is prepared and served, and the love and passion of staff and customers alike.
The Park Slope Food Coop is a member-owned grocery store where everyone must exchange 2.75 hours of labor every 4 weeks for the right to shop.
The benefits of membership are numerous: superior produce; a product mix that favors responsibly-produced, well-vetted foods over highly processed ones; and low prices. (For-profit supermarkets mark-up products for sale by 50-100% – the Park Slope Food Coop mark-up is 21%.)
One other, less-tangible benefit is the coop's prevailing sense of community: I love shopping (and doing my shift) there because all of the people – diverse and different as they may be – care like I do when it comes to the importance of good food.
When the Coop approached me with a proposal to swap my photography for work shift hours, I jumped at the opportunity. Here are examples, from the Coop's Orientation Slideshow, of how they made use of the photos.
Selected portraits as they've appeared in print.
Page spreads from a book geared toward families visiting (or living in) New York City. I was also co-author. For more information or to purchase, go here.
Photos made for advertising.