Eating with your eyes – The aesthetics of food photography

November 22, 2017 ZEISS LENSPIRE Team

Capturing Food Art

I  have had the fortune to work with some of the world’s best chefs and bartenders in the industry. In order for me to capture and represent their art in the best way I can, many years ago, I chose to use a Milvus 1.4/50 manual focus lens for my Canon. ZEISS glass gives me a very specific look – a look that in my opinion is second to none. Extremely sharp with silky bokeh, where each image  has a very unique look that suits my vision.

© Jim Sullivan, Canon Eos 5D MK IV, ZEISS Milvus 1.4/50, f/4, 1/320 sec., ISO 2500 © Jim Sullivan, Canon Eos 5D MK IV, ZEISS Milvus 1.4/50, f/4,5, 1/400 sec., ISO 2000 © Jim Sullivan, Canon Eos 6D, ZEISS Milvus 1.4/50, f/4,5, 1/1600 sec., ISO 2500

Find your inspiration

When I am cooking, my food tends to be simple with solid flavors, and classic technique – I like to think of my food and photography having the same qualities. When I am shooting, my images tend to be clean, have good light, and are technically sound. One of my all-time favorite photographers is, William Eggleston. At first glance his work looks so simple, but after studying it, you find that he is exact in his methods. His fantastic use of light stands out in his photographs, and I try to use this quality in my own work.

© Jim Sullivan, Canon Eos 5D MK IV, ZEISS Milvus 1.4/50, f/4,5, 1/400 sec., ISO 1600 © Jim Sullivan, Canon Eos 5D MK IV, ZEISS Milvus 1.4/50, f/4, 1/800 sec., ISO 2000

Currently I am working with Chef Val Cantu, of Californios in San Francisco, on a self published cook book Titled “High Contrast.” Chef Cantu was recently named one of America’s best new chefs by Food and Wine Magazine. Mexican cuisine is getting more and more recognition as being one of the worlds top cuisines, and Californios is one of three Mexican Restaurants to hold a Michelin Star. The diversity and complexity of flavors in Mexican cuisine is unsurpassed and is why, it has become my favored cuisine.

© Jim Sullivan, Canon Eos 5D MK IV, ZEISS Milvus 1.4/50, f/4, 1/640 sec., ISO 2000 © Jim Sullivan, Canon Eos 5D MK IV, ZEISS Milvus 1.4/50, f/4, 1/1000 sec., ISO 5000

Chef Cantu of Californios had these gracious words to share:

“My cuisine is very simple, but with a very refined and unique aesthetic, and Jim has been able to capture that essence incredibly well. Balancing the photos, and giving the same attention to detail that we give our food, is paramount when we decide which photographer we want to work with. The images he creates are as sharp as our knives, while still giving the feeling that they are alive and moving.”

Chef Cantu

About the Author

Jim is a chef and an award winning food photographer/cinematographer based in Southern California. As a classically trained chef and graduate from the Art Institute, his ability to cook and understand food helps him portray food in a unique way. He is able to showcase the food in an editorial, advertising or lifestyle perspective.

Visit his Instagram / Website

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