Inspired by his ceramicist mother, teenager ben orkin Is taking the world of food Instagramming by storm
We interview Ben and Gemma Orkin, mother and son taking the food industry by storm
What were you doing aged 17? The only job I had was temp work, most often standing outside Newlands cricket ground as a human billboard while being mocked by my peers.
17-year-old Instagram star and foodphotographer Ben Orkin has clients both local and overseas and the makings of an actual career. All from broadcasting his food photography hobby through
Instagram … while impersonating a regular school-going teen in Cape Town.
Raised in a family of foodies, Ben says, ‘My mum is the chef in the family and I was inspired by her, but everyone in my family is a cook. It’s inspired me to cook.’
It helps that his mother is respected ceramicist Gemma Orkin, her wares featuring occasionally in his pics. ‘I get amazed at what he does,’ she says, ‘especially his photography. He sees beauty in things I would not really notice. It’s styled to a point, but what he photographs is very honest.’
The shoots happen in his bedroom in the family home in Claremont. Whereas most teenage boys will have walls plastered with various declarations of infatuation or rebellion, Ben’s room is neat and ordered, adorned with the odd sculpture or sketch. Most of the space is dedicated to his craft. Ben has plenty of props; plates, trays, cloths, kitchen towels and other goedes that will bump a food image from good to great. ‘The cooking and baking goes on in the kitchen and then I shoot in here with all my props. I do art and design at school, and I apply what I learn in those subjects into my food styling and photography. During the making of the food, I photograph the process. Once it’s made I will style it with props. Then I will photograph it, and edit it in Photoshop. That’s the process for the blog using a Canon 5D MARKIII. For Instagram I will use my iphone in much the same
‘He sees beauty in things I would not really notice. It’s styled to a point, but what he photographs is very honest.’ Gemma Orkin
process. It feels like cheating to use a proper camera for Instagram.’
That feel of an Italian nonna’s kitchen? Ben’s room. That mouth-watering shot of freshly baked bread? Ben’s room. The bowl of peas that look as if they just came from a country garden? You guessed it.
On getting attention from clients and the media, Ben says, ‘It’s so exciting. It’s so nice to feel rewarded for all the hard work you put in. Especially when it’s a client wanting you to photograph one of their products.’
As for the medium itself. ‘I used to look at the numbers on Instagram, whether my account went up or down, but I don’t do that any more. I focus on the content… There are a few Instagram accounts that I really enjoy, but I try not to be too inspired and influenced. I try to be original and unique.’
Ben’s plan after school is to get in to New York’s School of Visual Arts to study design. Then he wants to be a food stylist and photographer. ‘I’ve always had an idea of what I want to do.’
A 17-year-old talking about originality, his business and a solid plan for the future? #blessed
Instagram: BENORKIN benskitchenblog.com
Ben with his mother, ceramicist Gemma Orkin OPPOSITE PAGE, FROM TOP LEFT Ben’s Instagram post of Hearty Spiced Lentil Soup; Ben at work; ceramics by Gemma Orkin
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Ben’s collection of props; Gemma at work in her studio; Ben’s Instagram post of Christmas Challah; Ben prepping in the kitchen; Ben’s Instagram post of Meatloaf Koftas and Tomato Bulgur Salad