MATT AR­MAN­DARIZ

Food pho­tog­ra­pher, stylist and blog­ger

Friday - - In The Uae -

Food, says Matt Ar­man­dariz, is some­thing that unites all of us. ‘I be­lieve peo­ple who cook and feed oth­ers are the most gen­er­ous and warm peo­ple on the planet.’ The US-based food pho­tog­ra­pher, stylist, blog­ger and au­thor must surely know. For over two decades Matt has been busy doc­u­ment­ing dishes on film, writ­ing about his culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ences, pre­par­ing and tast­ing dishes – he has even been on Martha Ste­wart’s tele­vi­sion show where he shared his favourite cookie recipe with view­ers.

A for­mer graphic de­signer in the food in­dus­try, he ad­mits that it is his ‘love for food and all things re­lated to food’ that led him to be­come a food pho­tog­ra­pher. ‘For a while I was art-di­rect­ing food shoots,’ he said. But when he found he wasn’t happy with the re­sults, he de­cided to pick up the cam­era ‘to ap­pease the con­trol freak in me’.

Matt, who is self-taught, spent more than three years learn­ing the in­tri­ca­cies of the cam­era and to­day shoots with a plethora of equip­ment in­clud­ing Canon, Sigma and medium-for­mat dig­i­tal Has­sel­blad. A mas­ter in the dig­i­tal for­mat, he usu­ally uses an 80, 100 or 120 macro lens for food photography. ‘For a good food pho­to­graph, the food should first and fore­most in­spire you,’ says Matt, who will be con­duct­ing a photography ses­sion at Gulf Photo Plus week.

‘Food should in­spire you to cook, to buy, to eat, to save for later as a ref­er­ence, to think about a cul­ture’s food or about the per­son who made it or grew it.

Matt has writ­ten two books - On a Stick and Fo­cus on Food Photography for Blog­gers. What kinds of food are most dif­fi­cult to shoot, and why? Soups, stews and meats go to the top of my list, but I’m al­ways up for the chal­lenge. They are dif­fi­cult be­cause they are form­less, or slabs of dead meat, par­don me for say­ing that. We over­come the chal­lenges by play­ing up the props or the things that can lend some beauty, like the sur­face or a beau­ti­ful bowl or ad­di­tional gar­nish. How im­por­tant is it to have a good rap­port with a food stylist? Or do you pre­fer styling food your­self? Styling food my­self would be like a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher do­ing hair and make-up her­self be­fore pho­tograph­ing the model! I joke, but I al­ways say this be­cause work­ing with a food stylist is an in­te­gral part of food photography. It’s cer­tainly a team ef­fort. But if I’m at home pho­tograph­ing some cook­ies I made, well, I’m con­fi­dent in do­ing it alone. As far as de­vel­op­ing a rap­port with a stylist, it’s very im­por­tant to share the same vis­ual lan­guage, to be in sync, and to work closely to pro­duce beau­ti­ful im­ages. What’s your take on food blog­ging? I think food blog­ging and so­cial me­dia have democra­tised the art of food photography, and that’s a very good thing. But I’m a bit bi­ased as I got my start as a food blog­ger be­fore jump­ing into com­mer­cial food photography. What is the ba­sic equip­ment a food pho­tog­ra­pher should have? A cam­era! Since food looks its best in nat­u­ral light, you don’t need to have tons of equip­ment. You are a pop­u­lar blog­ger. What are the el­e­ments of a blog that get peo­ple to visit it of­ten? I’ve been a bad food blog­ger lately, thanks to In­sta­gram! But to me, what makes a blog pop­u­lar is that there is a unique voice and per­spec­tive that the reader can get to know. The writer shares him­self so that the posts be­come a con­ver­sa­tion, and one gets to know the per­son be­hind the cook­ing. The most pop­u­lar food blogs in the world are all penned by peo­ple with a unique point and view who take the time to let you into their worlds.

‘Food should IN­SPIRE you to cook, to buy, to eat, to save for later as a REF­ER­ENCE, to make you think about a CUL­TURE’S food or about the PER­SON who made it or grew it’

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