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A Taste for Art




Text by MARISA E. CAMPBELL • Images by JEFFREY GREEN

Take a cup of creativity, a tablespoon of light, and a pinch of color, and you'll have a delectable image by food photographer Jeffrey Green. His mastery in combining just the right ingredients to "cook" the ideal shot mimics the chefs whose work he portrays in such dazzling imagery.

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In an image of a kettle-shaped chocolate dessert, complete with a curved chocolate "handle" of (p. 26, top left), Green backlit a stained glass booth from inside the restaurant's kitchen using two 100 watt spots with barndoors on the dessert. Theresult is a warm and delicious image that has you reaching for a glass of milk.

Lite on Light

Though Green favors natural light, knowing when to use flash is key to getting a flattering image, he says. Where artificial light is necessary, he uses a bit of ingenuity and an array of accessories—including grids, snoots, reflectors, and softboxes—to garner different effects, such as streaks of light and patterns. Sometimes, he'll use glass blocks to cast diffused light onto his subjects.

The magic of lighting has intrigued Green as long as he can remember. He tells of a childhood filled with outings to concerts, where in addition to being interested in the performer, he was fascinated with the effects of the lighting on stage. Later in life, he carried this passion into his photography, using lighting to portray certain moods, such as a bright spring day or the relaxed tone of a lounge. Photographing a frosty drink by a poolside evokes a feeling of leisure, and by shooting tight and wide he ensures that the blurred background adds another layer to the image. In other pictures of beverages, Green highlights the varied colors of the liquid, as well as the imaginative shapes of the glasses themselves.

Photographing desserts is another project he finds enormously appealing, for its aesthetic value—as well as its taste. In addition to working with food stylists, he relies on the creativity and expertise of the chefs to create their works of cuisine artistry.

In an appetizing image of tiramisu, balanced precariously upon a thin layer of white chocolate (p. 26, top right) Green chose an area in the restaurant with natural light to highlight the artistic presentation of the dessert.

Paring Down

Photographing food, in all its shapes, textures, and colors, wasn't Green's first passion. This Las Vegas-based photographer began by capturing the shapes, textures, and colors of building interiors and exteriors, making architecture come alive with stylish composition and careful attention to lighting.

Then five years ago, at the request of a local magazine, Green took the leap into food photography. Drawing upon his years as an architectural photographer, he applied the same principles that he used to shoot rooms and edifices to photograph distinctive dishes in restaurants, hotels, and casinos.

He found that taking pictures of food is quite similar to photographing structures. "Everything is just on a much smaller scale."

There are different challenges, however. Instead of enduring extreme temperatures outdoors or trying to combat harsh, fluorescent lighting indoors, Green contends with coagulating cheese on pizza and trying to photograph pasta sauce before it's had time to sink into the pasta and weigh it down.

His work, which has a national appeal to it, attracts clients from across the country. Among his prestigious clientele are Emeril's Restaurants in New Orleans, Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, and Food Arts magazine in New York.

Soup to Nuts
Green steers clear of shooting Las Vegas-style images—all-encompassing grand spreads and buffets—preferring closeups of lavishly prepared meals, focusing on specific elements of a dish, a style that instantly set his work apart from that of his peers.

Though most of his work is editorial and advertising projects, he also shoots stock. For a promo piece he photographed in his home, Green used an Oriental-style bowl to evoke a region associated with rice (p. 24, top left). To complete the image, he rested a pair of chopsticks carefully across the rim and used a lit candle and vase in the background. The image is intimate and exquisite, and most important, you can almost taste the rice.

Maintaining that it's important for photographers to remain versatile, Green also photographs people and products.

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