Who we are: We met in St Petersburg, Florida, through a mutual friend. Appropriately, it was at a restaurant on the beach. Christey is born-and-raised Floridian, Peter has lived in Florida most of his life, but in odd chunks from childhood to adulthood. Both of us appreciate food as art, but from different directions -- other than eating it, of course.
Currently, we live on the Gulf coast of Florida, just west of St. Petersburg.
When I was 6, our neighbor in Connecticut was Virginia Ellison, who collaborated with A.A. Milne to create The Pooh Cookbook. I started cooking out of that book in 1st grade, and have cooked since then, off and on, over 34 years now!
I'm not classically trained, and I used to be much more of an improv cook rather than using any particular technique. My food could never quite get to the level I wanted, however, especially as a decade in Atlanta, Georgia had turned me into a pretty serious foodie -- I had developed enough to become my own worst critic.
A couple years ago, I started teaching myself classic techniques. I started with sauces, since that is one of my favorite topics. From the French mother sauces and derivatives, I moved to other areas of cooking, from regional cuisines, to methods of preparing meats and fish. I even changed the way I used my knife and held the food. My guides have been the cookbooks and writings by my favorite chefs: Keller, Bourdain, Ripert, Colicchio, English, mixed with classics such as Larousse Gastronomique, James Peterson's brilliant book Sauces, and the CIA textbook. One of my ongoing inspirations was seeing how my favorite chefs used ideas and techniques from the classics, yet altered them to create their own art.
I'm a software engineer by day. I do things by hands-on tinkering, rather than making flow charts. Seeing the way a dish is prepared -- the way the meat is cut, the freshness of ingredients, what a slow simmer does to a sauce after 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes -- the techniques resonate in my mind better than a recipe with its cups and teaspoons and numbered list of fold-mix-chop-cook directions.
I'm fortunate (in many ways) to be married to a photographer with an interest in capturing the totality of an event, in telling a story more than delivering the glossy snap of product placement. My step-by-step cooking techniques gel with her photojournalistic style, and I think between the two of us, we can tell the story of a meal in a way that blends both of our arts.
I am, first and foremost, a mom of four, then second, by training and heart, a photojournalist, for about 17 years now and in general photographer for the past 25 years.
It has been said that food photography is the hardest of all photography, which of course is the first and foremost reason I wanted to jump right in and tackle it. That and since meeting Peter, he has shown me there is so much more to the food world than steak and potatoes.
Now, when he cooks and creates, it is very relaxing to sit back and watch his 'dance' (even though he swears by two left feet) in the kitchen. All his quirks and tricks and flips of the fingers and wrists and facial expressions along with how delicately he treats certain things really taunt the photojournalist in me. So instead of sitting back with my cosmo and watching, I started shooting the entire process and practiced working on the final plating, styling, etc. for the final shoot.
I started with food photography around October of 2006, but very sparsely, as I was late in pregnancy and on bed rest most of that time. Then I almost immediately became pregnant again and dealing with a baby really cut into my studio time!
I jumped in with both feet around November 2007 and after some great advice, an amazing book, and practice practice practice, here I am.
I am inspired mostly by Northern Renaissance paintings and artists and try often to recreate that lighting style in my final platings, but more often than not, I have been shooting the high key lighting that has been popular these past few years as well.
My equipment: Canon 40D, 7D, 50mm f2.8 macro, 12-24mm F4, 24-85mm F3.5, 70-200mm F2.8, 85MM F1.8, Britek PS300H strobes (one umbrella, one cone, sometimes a softbox, but rarely) Britek BB150 strobe (when it's not ticking me off) various bouncing card, mirrors, scrims, etc.