At the beginning of last year I decided to step back a bit from my work in graphic design. I still have my day job designing books, but I left the freelance market (for the most part) to focus on something else. And while I wasn’t quite sure what it would be at the time, I knew I wanted it to involve my camera. I never imagined it would end up being food photography.
What I landed on had to help in some way. For a while I considered traveling to shelters to photograph the animals and hopefully help them get adopted. But as someone with pretty severe allergies that didn’t seem feasible. In the end those allergies would be precisely what I’d focus on.
I’ve been vegan for nearly a decade now, and outside of signing animal rights petitions I’d never really been vocal about it. But when I was brainstorming my new project it occurred to me that I’m kind of a niche plant eater in that I have an allergy to tree nuts. I figured other vegans might, too. So I decided to put my love of cooking to work and set out to create The Nut-Free Vegan, a blog of plant-based recipes for people like me (You might think it’s easy to be a vegan with a nut allergy, but a lot of dairy alternatives—milk, cheese, yogurt—are often cashew- or almond-based).
Because this blog was going to be my part-time job, I wanted to make it the best it could be. I researched a ton of other food blogs and realized that while the recipes themselves are crucial to success, so are the photographs. A blog with great visuals—especially in this age of Instagram—is going to do better than one that doesn’t have them. So I took a couple food photography courses online and practiced as much as I could before launching The Nut-Free Vegan. If you look at the early recipes you’ll see that I wasn’t quite where I should’ve been with my camera settings, but I think the aesthetic was there for the most part. I guess I struggled with what Ira Glass calls “the taste gap.” I really need to go back and reshoot those photos…
Over the months I found that as I worked on recipes I was more excited about photographing them than making them. Eventually I got better at it and comfortable enough to want to pursue it as a part-time gig. With some help from my wife, who works in magazine publishing, I was able to get work into Vegan Food & Living and my white whale of a vegan mag, VegNews.
I thought this site would be a good idea as I look to expand my client base. And in addition to the food photos, I’m setting out on a personal project that revolves around the animal sanctuaries of America. There are a lot of them out there were goats, cows, pigs, chickens and just about any other animal you can think of have been rescued from factory farming and are living out full and happy lives. I donate monthly to several of them, but I want to do more and I think that photographing them and spreading the word will help. I know I’m not the first one to do it—Sammantha Fisher has been doing it for years and is a master at it—but I think I can bring my own spin to it and hopefully save a few animals along the way.
Thanks for visiting and taking the time to read this post. I hope to share a lot of work here—and probably a lot of ramblings. So feel free to subscribe in the sidebar.
Until next time!