If you really want to learn something, nothing can stop you. One of our notable contributors, Marina Kuznetsova, started learning about photography in bite sized pieces. Today, she has an impressive photography portfolio featuring food in beautiful, thought out compositions.
Her journey with photography shows tremendous growth, and most importantly a passion that shines through in her compositions and photographs. Marina shares her early beginnings, lessons and insights.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.
I don’t have an art education and several years ago I was working in a completely different field. After I started to make my first steps in food photography, I finished three photography courses in two different schools and of course collected and read a huge amount of articles and books dedicated to photography and styling.
One of my all-time favorite books is “Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling” by Helene Dujardin. It helped me not only to improve my skills but to become more self-confident as a professional.
How did you stumble on food photography?
A couple of years ago I was involved in a project connected to beauty and I had to take photos for a blog. I started searching for articles and lessons from photographers to improve my skills in shooting and discovered food photography. I fell in love with all those beautiful pictures and I realized that I wanted to be a part of it.
How do you achieve this incredible lighting in your photographs?
Lighting is the first thing I think of when planning a photo-shoot. I don’t like to use flash lighting when shooting, though sometimes it’s necessary and I never shoot in direct sunlight as I prefer a soft, ambient light which gives a unique atmosphere. And of course the thing I really love is to block a part of light with different props – boards, paper sheets, reflectors etc.
What would you say is an important factor to success with food photography?
First thing is never to give up in reaching your goals and not to compare yourself to others as this can really hinder your growth. And the other thing is to keep a balance between trends that change quite often and your own unique style.
Do you have a favourite photograph? What’s the story behind it?
Well, it’s really hard to choose. Let’s say that one of my latest favorite series is autumn pies – pumpkin tart and plum pie. I just love everything connected to fall, its colors and mood and with these photos I tried to capture this beauty and brightness.
When you just started working with stock photography, what were some of the challenges to the first stages?
First of all I needed some time to understand the specifics of stock photography. Along with that, I wanted to keep my own style and after I’ve mixed these two things, I think had an idea of how I should move on in this sphere.
Do you prepare the meals you photograph?
Yes, always. I know this may not be necessary but cooking is my second great passion after photography and it gives me a lot of inspiration and pleasure.
What is your work process like, from start to finish of a photo shoot?
I always plan my shootings in order to optimize the usage of products and props. Before shooting I like to make sketches of future compositions, choose backdrops and make a list of all the necessary things. When everything is ready, the shooting begins.
It’s hard to predict the time of a shooting as sometimes I come up with some new idea in the middle of a process and change props, backdrops and even the whole scene. After shooting I clean my workspace (not my favorite part of work at all :)) and let myself rest a little for at least a couple of hours. After that I start retouching.
What is your go-to source of inspiration?
Food itself is a huge source of ideas. The colors of fruits, vegetables, theirs forms and shapes, textures and how can you mix the shades in one composition. Every little thing can be inspiring. You take a bread and it may seem boring at first but break it into two parts and you already have the whole story.
How do you keep up with current market trends?
Well, as I consider myself new to stock photography, I’m just starting to study the trends. From where I’m now I can say that knowing and learning trends is a necessary thing just like learning the theory of any subject.
Your #1 tip or words of wisdom:
If you have an idea for a shot in your mind – write it down immediately! Sometimes they come one after another and there’s a chance you’ll forget some of them.