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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Finding your passion-guest photographer

My surprise guest this week is Ilva Beretta from Ilva Beretta Photography!

Have you ever thought about taking photos of food? I've dabbled a bit in it. I love to drool over food photos and I read foodie blogs regularly, and wish that I knew how to cook. Unfortunately, I am not one of those lucky ducks that knows how to cook-good thing my husband can cook!

If you haven't heard of this VERY talented lady, then you need to visit her site. She lives an exciting life creating "art" for magazines-and she lives in Italy. How cool is that?

So, pour yourself a cup of coffee and learn about how she found her way into this type of photography!

My name is Ilva Beretta and my business is simply called Ilva Beretta Photography. I am a Swedish free-lance photographer who lives in Italy since 1994. I work mainly here with both editorial and commercial photography but I also get commissions from abroad and I also sell my photos on stock photo agencies like Fresh Food Images and SucréSale.

Tell us about your passion to do food photography.

Well it started with my food blogs almost six years ago and it soon became an integral part of my life. There are so many factors involved when you shoot food, you need to think about light, texture and colours. There are props involved and you also need to represent the food in an appetizing way which involves food styling as well. (I often do the food styling myself but I love working with food stylists as they are so incredibly professional, at least the ones I work with.) All these factors makes food photography a wonderful creative challenge that I love to embark on and to find the right solutions to!

Are you a self taught photographer or did you have a mentor that showed you the ropes?

I am a self taught photographer, I have never taken classes but I have been using my camera every day and that is important if you want to get better.

I collect photos that I like and study them, the use of light, the composition of the photo and which props are used, but above all I shoot a lot and learn from that.

What do you think is the most important factor in making a good picture?

Light and composition. Apart from the obvious things like focus and good food styling, but to me those factors are the most important. Thinking is also good, I often think about how to make a photo the day before I do it so that I sort of try it out in my mind.

When I work with Art Directors, we often plan the shots we have to make, the mood, the props and the composition and that make a big difference.

What's your best marketing advice that you have found to work?

Sending out regular promotion emails with recent photos works quite well for me, I’m also represented by Wonderful Machine and I am on portals like Production Paradise which has led to jobs but it is through the promotion emails I have found bigger jobs and long-term collaborations so my advice is to first of all concentrate on that, if you don’t show that you exist and that your work is good, how on earth will photo editors and ADs find you?

What is your favorite lens and why?

I’m very fond of my 50 mm prime lens, I use it most of the time actually. It is fast and sharp and you get a great DOF with it. I also use a 100 mm macro lens which is great to shoot food with. Next on my list to buy is a 35mm prime lens, I like prime lenses a lot because there is no noticeable distortion.

How do you balance it all?

The way I work means that it comes and goes in waves, I have very intensive weeks every month when I do editorial work for the food magazines I collaborate with but fortunately I can do it in my own studio here at home which is great. Then I go to Milan almost every month to shoot commercial works but that is almost like a vacation as I have studio assistants, food and prop stylists working for me! Although that kind of work depends a lot on what the clients want and if they have clear ideas and send you the right stuff!

Fortunately I have a very understanding family (I have three children) and a husband with a flexible job so we always manage to balance it between us.

What advice would you give a new photographer who is just starting their own photography business to find their passion, be it people, food, etc.?

Use your camera all the time, practice, practice and practice! Collect and study photos that you like or inspires you. Have fun and try not to imitate other photographers’s styles, you have to find your own way to express yourself in your photos and it is far more important to interpret what you see and like in a photo than imitating it. Be true to yourself and take on every challenge you find but don’t let people use you, you need to realize your own worth and get paid for it (unless is for benefit causes).

Thank you SO much for your input!


Adriana Iris said...

lovely blog now folowing

Sharon said...

I simply love her work!

Eric said...

I am a foodie blogger and agree with her tips.

Karen said...

Wow-looks like right out of a magazine! New follower

Mare said...

Love her photos and advice to practice, practice, practice. Getting so many great tips from your blog. following you

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for you kind comments and a special thank you to Tessa for making space for me here!

Anonymous said...

Not only is Ilva an excellent photografer, but also a wonderful person and a great friend.
// Kicki

Soma said...

I "worship" Ilva's work. She has always been the inspiration for me! Great interview.

Baking Soda said...

A great shout-out Ilva! Well done

Melanie said...

Lovely Ilva. Thanks for the tips. Your photos are very lovely too.

Aleli said...

Thank you Ilva for inspiring me. I am a self taught new photographer and will bring my camera with me from now on, to practice practice practice! You do great work and you have the heart to teach new photographers like me. Thank you again!

Lis said...

I found Ilva's blog 5 years ago and have loved each and every photo she shares with us. Truly a talented eye! She never has the same photo - there are other photographers out there that shoot different items, but they are always styled in the same way.. can't say that about Ilva's work. She's one of the best! Not pair her talent with her lovely spirit and kindness and you've got one beautiful woman. :) xoxo

Lisa said...

Lis above introduced me to your stunning blog, and since then, it's become eye candy for me. Your photography is just stunning, and like mentioned above, every photo is so varied and unique, it's a new experience for the viewer, not the same ole same ole where it gets monotonous, no matter how sharp, well styled or well lit.

That said, at this time, I have no natural light to work with, due to trees and the direction my apartment faces. Do you have any advice for artificial lighting - specifically two Lowel Ego Lights? I have one on each side of the food subject, and that's how I shoot. Not thriled with the results.

sasha said...

Great Blog! I am now following. It would be great if you follow back :)


...............cata.............. said...

Ilva's work is always a font of inspiration for me!
She is not only a great photographer but a great human being as well.
Love this interview!

Alessio said...

Ilva is just a talented lady! I am just sad I didn't get to meet her when I was still living in Florence... And you gotta LUV her Broccoli shots!!
Keep up the good work my friend :)

Anonymous said...

I don't what to say, I am really moved by all these kind words. Thank you so much, you make me want to try even harder! And you make so so very happy too!

Lisa-I never used Lowel Ego lights, when I use artificial lights I usually use a light bank. But I suggest you to move them around a bit, maybe one on the side and the other northwest/northeast if understand what I mean. Or use just one on the side and try with a reflector southwest/southeast. Either a simple white reflecting surface, styrofoam board for example, or aluminum foil if you want a stronger reflection. Move the light around, try how it works with one closer, one a bit further away, or both further away. and so on, experiment! I hope this was of any help!

Jamie said...

A big hug to Ilva for a fabulous interview! Ilva is truly one of the best food stylist/photographers there is and her work is indeed varied in styling, mood, colors, space and each one is unique in the emotions that it conveys. I love watching her work evolve and it is always both surprising and stunning. I can't wait to spend some time with her in person and watching her work. I know that I have so much to learn from her. Kudos, Ilva, on an exciting career!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I've known Ilva for years now and from day 1 have admired her work! Her images evolve and she shows a versatile style. It never gets "boring" to see her images as she uses light, textures, color, etc. to her advantage and displays her ability to harness these aspects for perfect photos.

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

great interview about a wonderful blogger and photographer.

Toffeeapple said...

Great interview Ilva. Good to see a photo of you too.

Lisa said...

Thank you, Ilva! Will be taking photos for an entry tomorrow. Will try your suggestions :)

Kimberly Gauthier said...

This is fantastic. I love food photography and photograph everything we eat when we dine out. The photos are so beautiful!

Edwina said...

I love Ilva's work. Thank you for getting her to share her secrets. It's so refreshing when photographers share their approach to their work.