Karen Schuld Photography: NYC Food Photographer

Sprouts in the Hood

Sprouts in the Hood
Exploring My Hood Through Food and Lifestyle Photography

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Salad with Blueberries and Papitas

Freshly Picked Greens with Blueberries and Papitas

Summer Salad with Blueberries and Papitas

Mixing baby arugula with avocado, blueberries, melon, red onion, a little hot spice, then sprinkling with some toasted papitas work nicely to make a light, colorful and refreshing summer salad.  Toss these summer fruit flavors,  fresh greens, and papitas with some lemon juice and salt for a quick and healthy meal for you and a friend.

Ingredients for 2 servings:

1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 melon,  chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup baby greens
1/4 cup papitas, toasted
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 serrano pepper,  finely diced
Salt to taste

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hot Sauce with Ancho and Negro Chilies

Hot Sauce with Ancho and Negro Chilies
I love adding a little hot spice to my meals.   Here is a  quick hot sauce with some dried ancho and negro chilies from my local Spanish market, El Paisanos, in Santa Fe. 
Hot Sauce Recipe:


4 dried ancho chilies, seeded
4 dried negro chilies, seeded
1 tomato, chopped
2 garlic cloves, choped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 lime
Salt to taste


1.  Remove stems and seeds from chilies.
2.  Soak chilies for 20 minutes in hot water.
3.  In a saucepan, combine the chilies, tomato, garlic, and cumin.
4.  Cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
5.  Puree ingredients.
6.  Stir in lime juice and salt.

New Mexico: "The Land of Manana"

New Mexico Sunset
Where NYC is "the city that never sleeps",  New Mexico is the "land of manana".   Here, I am told,  the word manana does not mean tomorrow, it means not today.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Agua Fresca": Refreshing Water Cooler at the Oasis

The Famous Oasis Restaurant
I am having culture shock after moving from NYC to Santa Fe.  I miss the
pulse of the city but I am enjoying discovering a new
place.  While driving, I came across this funky little taco shack on the
side of the road named "Oasis."  The owner and chef, Julio, made me one
of his special "Aqua Fresca" drinks.  Julio blends water with a slice
of water melon or mango, then pours the mixture in a glass with ice.  On a
hot day, this refreshing beverage is the perfect aid to cooling off.

Julio's "Aqua Fresca" Recipe:

1 cup water
1 cup fruit
1 cup ice


1. Blend fruit and water in a mixer.
2. Serve in a glass with ice.
3. Enjoy and stay cool.

Julio from Oasis in the Desert
Blending an "Agua Fresca"

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to Photograph Food

One thing I have learned over the years is that it is easy for a photographer to make food look bland and tasteless.  But, of course, the goal of a food photographer is to make the viewer desire the subject of your shot.   Making food look appetizing requires a knack for styling, a careful eye for detail, and an ability to use light in a way that will bring romance and drama to your subject.  Here are some tips and suggestions that can enable you to achieve a photograph that will whet the imagination---and the appetite---of the viewer.

While some photographers approach food shots in a static way by carefully contriving the shot, I prefer a more free-flowing, spontaneous approach to styling. As I shoot, I rearrange the food as often as it takes to get the right look.  I view the plate as my canvas, and the food as my medium.  Just as with any photograph, I try to achieve a design that draws the viewer’s attention to my subject---in this case, the food.  But, in shooting food, my goal is also to create a whimsical, playful design that juxtaposes unexpected colors and textures.  For example, I toss herbs onto an entrée to add zest or include colorful fruit to achieve a more vibrant shot.  The way I position myself and my camera also enhances the flow of the shot.  While I sometimes shoot food large format with a tripod, I prefer shooting with my 35-mm.  It leaves me freer to move around my canvas and experiment with different camera positions and angles.  

Food that looks fresh is appealing to a viewer; so it is important make your food look natural and not too staged.  You should constantly check that your food stays fresh.  Greens tend to wilt quickly.  Meat can start to look exceedingly dry if you’re not careful.  A little water spritz can add moisture to your food, while steam can give it a "hot out of the oven" look.  If you are a beginner, it can be beneficial to work with an experienced food stylist.  A stylist can prepare your food so it is photo-ready and can bring another set of eyes to the set.

A good photographer always pays attention to detail.  For any photograph to be successful, the photographer must select the right props and surfaces.  Food photography is no exception.  Choosing a special location or creating a staged environment for your subject can greatly enhance your shot.  Choosing the right plate, bowl, glass or cutlery can also significantly improve the look of your shot.  When you shoot food, it is important to choose a color scheme that that will complement the color or character of the food.  A black background can intensify the color of a dish, while shooting on a white background will always create a clean look.  Also, be aware that cuisine and culture go hand in hand, so document food by covering a region's people, markets, restaurants, and special dishes. Consider shooting a series of both close-up, medium, and wide shots that begins with the ingredients and ends with final food presentation.

Lighting is key to setting the mood for your photograph. Whether your concept requires drama or mystery, excitement or stability, you must carefully consider the lighting that will work for the situation.  Use lighting you feel comfortable with.  Natural light can work well with food but artificial light gives you more control over the look of the shot.  A backlight with a little fill can make your food look luscious, while a sidelight can show texture and depth.  It is very helpful to use a “stand in” entrée while you set up your lights, to get just the right atmosphere.

In conclusion, it is important that you spend adequate time preparing to ensure that you have the right foods, props, surfaces, lighting setup and personnel to make the shoot successful.  It is essential to focus on styling and attend to all the details involved in the shot.  Although there is no one right way to plan, style, light, and shoot food, always keep in mind that the end goal is to make your food look fresh, colorful, dramatic and, hence, appealing to the appetite.  Your final shot should be one that stimulates the senses.

Links to some styling tips on my blog:  http://sproutsinthehood.blogspot.com/2010/11/styling-and-photographing-food.html

Examples of a documentary approach to shooting food:  http://sproutsinthehood.blogspot.com/2010/10/basmati-rice-garnished-with-fried.html