Flavia wrote Fun with Food Photography, a little handbook for styling and shooting beautiful food. We’re inspired by how she combines different artistic disciplines into one beautiful project after the next. A designer by trade, a cook by passion, and a photographer by necessity, she shows us the way a single creative passion can grow into many new ones. Take a look at what delights and motivates her in the creative process.
1. What things excite and inspire you?
Anything with a beautiful color palette will instantly lift my mood, and sometimes I will just open the Pantone sampler and look at the rainbow it contains. I also love iridescent things, glitter and gold against rich, dark backgrounds. I guess I’m a lot like a magpie! Oh, and I get way too excited by images from space, and forests, baby animal videos, and Chris Evans (the US actor, not the UK TV presenter) in any shape or form. All these things remind me the world is beautiful and that there is always time to create something that adds to it.
If I were to boil it down to a list, it would be:
- Cats and kittens
- yellow Kobenstyle cookware
- Rainy days
- Space photography
- Stylish gardens
- Old cemeteries
- Chris Evans
2. How did you start taking pictures?
I first began to cook these more elaborate dishes and plate them in a more decorative way, and my family started saying, “wow this looks good enough to photograph!” At the time, I had a super-small and rather crappy compact camera. My dad brought me a Canon Rebel XTi one day, and since then, I’ve been either taking photos or planning and styling them constantly.
3. How did you decide to make a book about food photography?
I thought about all the things I wished someone had told me before I started, because it would have saved me a lot of worrying and long sessions of reinventing the wheel. Back then, the food photography topic wasn’t as trendy as it is now, and the resources available online were scarce and expensive to access. I realize the book addresses some pretty entry-level concerns, but it’s meant to be an encouraging read for those who are considering whether or not they can crack food photography.
4. What was the book-making process like for you? How did making a book compare to your other creative work?
Since it was a self-initiated project, it went a lot more smoothly than any other project because I was able to set realistic goals and deadlines and also meet them with relative ease. I enjoyed every stage of making the book—from the idea to uploading the PDF—and that guaranteed a smooth result.
5. What are a few places you visit regularly that inspire you?
I live in Germany, in a town that has really old and beautiful cemeteries. Whenever I need a fresh dose of inspiration, I go on a stroll through these actual woods circled with wrought iron fences and with old graves among the trees.
As a child, I really loved going to the seaside, but now I really feel recharged after a hike in the woods. I also love exploring quaint little villages in nearby France (the border is not that far from where I live, and it’s a short tram ride to the nearest French town).
Visiting my parents at their house in my hometown in Romania is always inspiring too. The cuisine, the scents, the atmosphere—they are so different and do not compare to anything in the West. It’s great to sometimes dive back into that life.
6. How do you keep the creative ideas flowing? Do you have a practice, a routine, a mindset that you employ every day?
I really love putting Pinterest to good use, and I gather whole series’ of other people’s work, grouped by topics of interest. I revisit my boards regularly to either read up on things and get informed, or to get inspired by this color combination here, that texture there…
7. Are you better at starting projects than finishing them? Or do you tend to see something through?
Lately, I’ve had no problem finishing my projects because I now have a full-time job at a local spice factory. My work there does not consist only of photography, and I get to exercise my other skills as a graphic designer as well. However, generally speaking, I will enthusiastically finish a project I believe in based on an idea I love and I will procrastinate on things that do not excite me that much.
8. What do you do when you want to finish a project but feel stuck?
I usually move away from it for a bit and go do completely unrelated things for a certain amount of time (if the deadline allows). I then return to it with fresh eyes and new ideas on how to tackle it. This usually works.
9. What is your favorite food/drink to photograph? Why?
I have two things I can never choose between. It’s fruit and bread. Fruit is endlessly colorful and vibrant, and bread of all sorts has a “homey” feel to it. Pictures of bread always get the other senses involved, and the imagination as well. It’s pretty hard to look at an artistic photo of bread and not imagine how good it must taste and how lovely the aroma is when it’s fresh out of the oven.
10. What is your idea of happiness?
Getting to do what I love, surrounded by the people I love. Feeling like work is actually playtime.
11. What is your favorite thing to do or make?
Going for long walks and letting my mind wander, then writing the ideas down. Some of these ideas are coming together nicely in a Gothic novel I am very close to finishing.
12. Who are two artists you enjoy and what do you like about them?
I would have to say illustrator Lisa Congdon, for how fun her artwork is and for her fantastic sense of color. Linda Lomelino, whose photography is out-of-this-world gorgeous.
13. How would you describe your style? What influenced you?
I would call it “rustic remixed” because until now I’ve been chasing that elusive countryside kitchen feel in the middle of an industrial, urban setting. But I feel as though lately there’s been a shift in my style and I can’t wait to see what it leads to.
How do you stay inspired and overcome getting stuck? Share your insights on the creative process in the comments below!