I’m not going to lie– I am cringing a bit, writing this post. But I believe in keeping it real and the fact is that there are many, MANY photos from early in my food photography career that I cannot even stand looking at. All I can see with many of those early shots is how naive I was, the bad styling choices I made, the flat lighting or the poor composition. I certainly don’t feel that way about all of my early work– there is a lot I am still really proud of– but there is also a lot that I am not.
One of the very first cookbooks I shot was Good Fish, an amazing book by Becky Selengut about West Coast seafood. Becky is truly one of the most talented chefs I have ever met, and there isn’t a recipe of hers that I have tasted that I haven’t absolutely loved. But this was the first book she food-styled which, as many of you know, is an entirely different thing than plating food for a client. And this was one of my very first times prop- styling, let alone one of the first cookbooks I was commissioned to shoot. Granted, I had been a photographer for well over a decade, but shooting food is it’s own thing. So, needless to say, Becky and I were both learning throughout this process.
There are a lot of shots from that book that she and I remain happy with, even now, a decade later. But there were a handful that she and I absolutely LOATHED. Over the past decade, we’ve both gotten a lot better at our craft and have even taught workshops about photography and styling together. So, when Becky was offered the chance to put out an updated copy of Good Fish, she and I both jumped at the chance to ditch some of the old photography and create some new versions.
Below are the before and after shots of 4 different recipes. The first version was shot in 2009 and the second in 2016, so it just goes to show what a difference 7 years can make!