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