Jeff Kauck Talks Food Photography

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Jeff Kauck Photography

Photographer Jeff Kauck is a man of few words. Good thing his pictures are worth a thousand–or more. Perhaps most famous for his food photography, Kauck has garnered a multitude of accolades including a James Beard nomination for his work on The Spiaggia Cookbook, as well as a Clio Award, one of the advertising industrys highest honors. Though Kauck began as a watercolor painter, he made a smooth transition to commercial photography, relocating to Chicago and opening a studio with his wife. Kauck spoke with Our Town. But only a little.

Our Town How has your training as a watercolor painter influenced your photography?

Jeff Kauck Painters have a tendency to know more about getting light to lift then photographers. They have to understand the color of the highlights versus the color of the shadows. In addition a watercolor painter typically does not use white paint. They need to leave the unpainted white paper to represent white. So they must be aware and protective of that area before they start painting.

OT Whats interesting to you about food photography?

JK I love to eat great food. And the quality time that eating together represents. It’s also the closest thing to painting for me.

OT You must have some favorite Chicago restaurants.

JK My wife’s kitchen. She is an amazing cook.

OT Any dishes that you love but dont translate well to visual representation?

JK It’s more a personal thing. Some people don’t like to look at a whole fish or dead game. But they love how they taste.

OT What have been some travel highlights from your work in food photography?

JK I’ve been very lucky to work with the light from many parts of the world. No two are alike. Southern France, Asia, Mexico, New England– all have a unique color and feel.

Jeff Kauck Photography

OT Whats your favorite lens for food photography?

PK 85mm.

OT Your studio is something of a family business. How did that come about?

JK My wife and I opened the studio together years ago. She both managed and prop styled. Several years ago our daughter joined as a producer. She now takes care of booking, estimating and producing. I’m very lucky to work with my family.

OT Do you try to tell stories with your photography or is it simply about finding something thats visually striking?

JK In advertising you are visually emphasizing and describing the product. In editorial you try and represent the chef, the location and feel the chef or publisher is after.

OT What advice would you have for someone looking to get into food photography or photography in general?

JK There are more people getting into photography then ever before. The digital cameras have taken much of the technical skills away. So it’s very important to develop a strong/unique “visual voice.”You must have something to offer your clients that is different from other photographers.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, Herself When Shes Missing,” (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicagos StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually.

IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn’t support comments. Join in the conversation by following facebook.com/OurTownBlog.ChicagoSunTimes and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez and Facebook.

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