This week on Prodibi, we talk to food and lifestyle photographer Darina Kopčok from Vancouver, Canada.
Using her fine art training to create evocative images with a distinct sense of mood and place, Darina delights us with her great composition.
Let's discover in this interview these beautiful photographs in full-resolution powered by Prodibi.
A few words about you, how did you start photography?
I’ve had a lifelong passion for food and cooking. When I lost my teaching job in 2008, I started getting published as a food writer. I began a food blog as a portfolio to show to editors.
That is when I picked up the camera to shoot still life photography and found that I enjoyed it even more than the writing. It wasn’t long before I decided to change focus.
You have a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, how does it help you with your photographs?
I think of myself as a visual storyteller. When I pick up my camera, I always ask myself, “What’s the story I want to tell with this image?”. This might involve a more complicated composition, like a table setting, or it might be something simple, like a cake.
In any case, I try to hint at a wider narrative taking place beyond what can be seen in the photo. This might mean an extra bowl at the edge of a frame, or the sun spilling onto a farmhouse table. I try to give my images a sense of place. As human beings, we deeply resonate with storytelling. A sense of a narrative is what pulls us in to a photograph.
For you, what describes a successful picture and why?
In general, an image is successful for me when it evokes the emotions. It may not be technically correct or perfectly composed, but if the photograph makes you feel something, I believe that it has succeeded.
When I create a food image, I ask myself, “Do I want to eat this?” If the answer is yes, then the food has awakened your appetite, stirred your senses. Food is so much more than just sustenance. It’s connected to so many things, like community, culture, and sensuality.
What would be your advice for beginner food photographers?
Practice as much as you can. Learn about composition, and study still life paintings and the light in the works of the Old Masters. Study the works of the great photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Irving Penn.
Analyze the food photography that inspires you and ask your self why? Look for the common themes, how the photographer uses texture and color, how the food is styled. Photography is a marriage of science and art.
You need to learn both aspects to be successful. It’s a difficult learning curve. Don’t give up.
Are you inspired by the work of other photographers or artists?
Yes, definitely. I think it’s very important to not only look at the food space but also other art forms to help inform your work. At the same time, I also think it’s crucial to develop your own style as early as possible. Try not to do what everyone else is doing. Sometimes we get so caught up with trying to fit in that we forget we each have a unique way of seeing and expressing ourselves.
About your photography gear, what are your favorite tools?
I cannot work without a tripod. When it comes to food and still life photography, it’s essential. It allows you to create consistency from image to image and frees up your hands to style to the camera. Inexperienced photographers often complain that they feel limited by the tripod and think using one will stifle their creativity, when in fact
the opposite is true. Using a tripod will set you free.
I also tether to my laptop for every shoot. This allows my clients and I to see a larger rendition of the image than what can be seen on the back of the camera’s LCD screen. Still life photography is a process of assessing and adjusting, often in small increments. Seeing a large version of the shot makes this a lot easier.
Do you have projects for the future like workshops, personal series?
In addition to photography, I write about the craft and mentor photographers that are new to food photography. I write regularly for some online publications like Digital Photography School and Expert Photography, as well as on my own photography blog Gastrostoria. If you go to the blog, you can find out more about my mentorship program.
I will also be launching some eBooks in the coming months, so signing up for my mailing list will keep you up-to-date on that.
As for a personal series, I plan on expanding my Dark Floral series this spring. I began the series in 2018 and it has been selling very well. I’d like to continue on this theme and see what I can come up with.
To see more from Darina:
All photographs copyright Darina Kopcok and used with her permission.
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