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Patty Niemann
A Year Ago

Instagram has become the social media of choice for photographers to show off their finest work. What you may not realize is the time and effort that goes into it. Boston-based lifestyle and food photographer, Brian Samuels(@myfoodthoughts), gives us insight into this world, his inspiration, past work, and much more. 
 
IfOnly: How did you first get involved in food photography?
 
Brian Samuels: I've always had a passion for cooking and eight years ago I decided to start a blog called A Thought For Food. The site focuses on original recipes, but I was also interested in featuring some of my favorite restaurants. I started posting pictures from places I had dined at. Now, this was before Instagram, so it hadn't become totally normal to see people taking pictures of their food. Owners began to approach me and a few hired me to take pictures for their websites. I've been doing this full time now for about 5 years. 
 
IO: What ultimately inspires your love for photography?
 
BS: It's my memories of cooking with my mom as a small boy that stay with me everyday. I spent many hours with her, watching the way she'd chop and sauté or roast. I became her assistant and taste tester.  Those were the moments when I fell in love with cooking and I'm always striving to convey that passion through my photography.
 
IO: Which foods are hardest to style?  
 
BS: Stews and soups often need a little help. A bright garnish, fresh herbs for example, can do wonders. Casseroles, which I don't photograph that often, can also be difficult because you really need to dig into them to see what the ingredients are. 
 
IO: Which foods do you enjoy shooting the most?
 
BS: Despite being a pescatarian, I love photographing burgers. I think they're so much fun to play around with and there are often fun, colorful toppings and sides to give them some life. Oysters never bore me. Nor do cocktails.
 
IO: Any tips for the beginner?
 
BS: The biggest tip I can suggest to someone is think about all the ways one would approach the dish. Food is more than just a pretty plate. There's a story to tell. How was it made? How does one eat it? Who is eating it? Usually if you include one of those things in that shot (and it doesn't have to be elaborate), then you will make a compelling image.
 
IO: As an iPhone user, which apps do you use to edit your photos?
 
BS: I exclusively use VSCO for editing on my phone. I use their professional software to edit photos on my computer as well. I love the way their filters replicate old film stock. It gives every image a documentary and somewhat vintage feel. And that's what I connect with.
 
IO: Which angle do you like most to shoot food?
 
BS: This really depends on the dish. I really enjoy working top down, meaning overhead, because it's easer to create a scene without worrying about unnecessary items that may be in the background. You can use the surface you're on as a canvas and move items to create the scene you want.
 
IO: What's been your favorite place you've gone to for an assignment?
 
BS: I had the pleasure of going to Cordova, Alaska a few years ago to photograph salmon fishermen and that was a wonderful experience. It was the first time I got to capture where an ingredient came from and explore how that ingredient is engrained into the community and the way they live.
 

To see more of Brian's work, view his portfolio here and follow his delicious Instagram @myfoodthoughts. Interested in meeting the man behind the lens? Take an iPhone photography and food styling class with him, exclusively available through IfOnly. 
 
"Style and snap meals with real finesse." - Zagat
 
"Give your "grams" an upgrade." - BostonChefs.com
 
"It's food-porn esque." - Boston.com