Food Photography: Beyond the Plate

A natural born adventurer, Eric Wolfinger knew from a young age that he was not designed to follow a traditional 9-5 career path. After years of soul searching and experimentation, he’s put in the effort to carve out the job of his dreams:

After graduating from college, Wolfinger knew that he had a passion for traveling, cooking, and surfing at the break of dawn. As a child, these were the things that he valued most, and even several years of schooling could not erase those core values.

This led him to work as a line cook, and subsequently, an apprentice at the famous Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. After four years of working closely together, owner and chef Chad Robertson decided that he wanted to make a book to help promote the business and illustrate what went into the bread they so carefully handcrafted. During the planning stages, Robertson chose Wolfinger to photograph the project. Though he had little experience as a photographer, the apprentice had a deeper, more intimate relationship with the subject matter than any photographer Tartine could have possibly hired. Whats more, as someone who worked with food on a daily basis, he had the intrinsic knowledge of how to make his subjects look good.

Tartine Bakery, Chad and Eric

“Finding a photographer with an understanding of what is happening and where you’re coming from helps capture the magic of what’s happening in the kitchen, in the restaurant, and at the table.”

Thus launched Wolfinger’s journey as a food photographer.

Today, he travels the world, using cooking as a way to capture the human story and spirit. This short film does an excellent job of featuring just what goes into a single assignment. From harvesting and fermenting beans in a remote Tanzanian village to staging chocolatey confections in a kitchen-turned studio, he develops detailed shot lists that illustrate the processes that go into making our food. By doing so, he brings to life knowledge and wonders that simply aren’t always accessible to the public eye.

Cocoa Plant Harvest Shoot

When it comes down to it, Eric Wolfinger’s work brings a sense of personal purpose and possibility. He chooses to spend his time taking on the projects that are most meaningful to him. All of us—professionals and amateurs alike—can surely take something away from is down to earth photographic philosophies.

photographing chocolate

professional food photography tips

“Food is much more than what’s on the plate…it’s feeling. It’s memories. It’s culture. It’s a person’s state of mind, you know? It’s their story. I think if you want to tell a human story, the best place to start is at the table. That’s what I try to do.”

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