Libby Volgyes, Owner/Photographer
Libby Vision, South Florida
How did you get started in food photography?
I worked at The Palm Beach Post for seven years as a photographer. While there, I wrote about three blogs – everything from dating (don’t ask!) to books to wine. My interest in wine led to my involvement with food – I’d like to say it’s as simple as that.
When I started my own photography business, I knew that I was always happiest on food shoots – I always thought that chefs were just the coolest people and I like to eat. Again – I thought it was that simple. It’s only recently that I’ve had this epiphany – the reason I’m really drawn to food photography is that I’m as obsessive, artistic and driven as the chefs that I work with – it’s just that their tool is the knife and saucepan and I use the camera.
Who’s the lady behind the camera?
First off, I’m from Nebraska – which means that I’m really happy all the time and I’d like to think that I’m exceptionally kind – or at I try to be – Nebraskans are really, really kind. I love the sun; I get cold all the time and hate it when it drops below about 65 degrees. I love animals – especially large animals. I have two huge dogs and love to take them for walks. I met my husband on the dog beach, I delight in really simple things.
What’s your food crush of the moment? To eat and to photograph?
I cook and bake but not as much as you would think. I’m really interested in culinary DIY projects though – currently I’m obsessed with bourbon infusions – my favorite is a fig-infused bourbon. I was on a kick making limoncello for about 5 months straight – that sort of thing.
I have a huge culinary appetite and a small stomach, so it’s normal for me to go out to eat and order a ridiculous amount of things and be unable to finish most everything – thank goodness for carryout boxes and leftovers. Oh – and I hate breakfast – at least traditional breakfast. Leftovers, beans, pad thai, cold pizza – all of that is preferable to cereal, pancakes, waffles. Even eggs are pushing it.
Who are your dream clients?
I feel really lucky with the clients I do have – they’re absolutely amazing and I’d pretty much lay down in traffic for them.
That being said, I’d really love to work with Buccan and Coolinary Café at some point because they’re some of my favorite restaurants!
But as far as dream clients – it’s anyone who has an appreciation for what visuals can do and a spirit of collaboration.
What are common misconceptions about professional food photography?
That all we do is eat! Yes – sometimes I get to try the dish. But often, it’s not cooked completely or at all, or it’s been sitting out for two hours during the shoot and is “dead” as I call it or after working with it for hours, I just want it out of my sight. Yes, occasionally I bring home boxes of leftovers to my very picky husband who usually won’t want any of it but you don’t get into this business to eat all day.
The other question I hear a lot is people wanting to know what tricks I use to make the food look good. If you look at the history of food photography, back in the 80s it was very popular to use a lot of tricks to make food look more enticing, the trend now is to natural everything. I’m not opposed to brushing olive oil or droplets of water onto certain dishes to bring out textures and shine but that’s usually as far as it goes.
Ice cream – well, that’s another story – it’s on my list of three foods I hate to shoot (as well as mussels and steak). Ice cream is the only dish that I will sometimes substitute another substance for but not always. Sometimes you just shoot many dishes super fast.
Any advice for local aspiring (food) photographers?
Practice constantly. Shoot in good light. Buy interesting props. Think about your background. When you’re looking at your picture, ask yourself critically: Does this look delicious? If the answer isn’t yes, then you shouldn’t be posting the photo online. Develop your own style and have fun!
What’s one thing you’d love people to know about you / Libby Vision?
I’m super excited to be teaching my first food photography workshop on May 31 – designed specifically for food bloggers.
People can go to LibbyVision.com/workshop to find out more information.
* All photos courtesy of Libby Vision