I once photographed a mixologist as he created his bar’s signature craft cocktail: a smoked libation made with a base of rye and sweet vermouth. He poured a combination of liqueurs and aperitifs into a stirring beaker and, after stirring, strained the ingredients into a rocks glass filled with a colossal chunk of ice and garnished it with a spiraled orange peel. As the drink waited patiently underneath a glass vessel, he prepared a smoke machine—filling a bowl with wood chips and engaging a lighter in between the two as smoke billowed from machine to vessel before he finally presented the finished cocktail to the guest.
Watching the entire process unfold right in front of me—from the movement of the flame burning the wood to the smoker being activated to smoke filling the glass to finally the unveiling of the drink—was mesmerizing. But what I found even more fascinating was not only watching the experience but also capturing it. It’s what I love most about photography: capturing moments in order to tell visual stories that represent a brand, no matter what that narrative may be.
So on some days, I might be learning all about the art of the craft cocktail, but another day I might be photographing over-the-top, candy-coated, flaming milkshakes at the Sugar Factory in Miami Beach. I might find myself in the home of an ER doctor who moonlights as a food blogger. Or with yogis in prayer position along a marina in Aventura. Or sipping freshly pressed juices with an emerging holistic wellness coach in a South Beach condo lined with succulents. Restaurants, bars, hotels, personal brands, fitness + yoga instructors, Crossfit junkies—whatever your passion might be, mine is to capture it for you in a way that feels unique to you and communicates your individual or brand personality and expertise.
But before I developed a love for photography, I was fascinated by food. (Oh, and hip hop. I also used to love teaching hip-hop dance classes. You can YouTube them!) I’ve been surrounded by cooking my entire life. I grew up watching my mom cook for affluent families in Newport and spent summers working in the kitchen at Newport’s elite private beach club. I ended up earning a hospitality degree because I loved restaurants and hotels so much. Eventually I found myself on a private yacht in the middle of the ocean in the Caribbean cooking four-course meals. So when I would later be gifted a digital camera for Christmas, I would immediately start flipping through Gourmet Magazine, obsessing over the food photos. At first, I took pictures of my dinner. And then I got a mentor, and learned everything I needed to from composition to lighting to Photoshop and more.
As I began branding myself and promoting my photography, I wondered how I could help other people like me. Business owners who want to elevate their presence and grow their brand. The next natural step was to combine my passion for photography with my enthusiasm and knack for branding, marketing and social media—generating creative, strategic and relevant imagery to help push these brands forward. It didn’t take me long to turn to branding, food, and lifestyle photography.
If I can convey the true ambiance of a restaurant, the movement in making a cocktail, the freshness of the ingredients, the hard work of the staff and the life of a chef, the daily grind of the business, the behind the scenes that people want to see, and, most importantly, the quality of the food and drinks, then I consider my hospitality degree money and time well spent.
And if I can help other small businesses like me achieve their big-business goals, then that’s a picture worth more than a thousand words.