When it comes to photographing food, Tina Rupp is one of the best. You've seen her work everywhere, from celebrity cookbooks to food magazine covers and advertisements. Tina's style is fresh, clean and beyond beautiful. See more of her work here.
Tina's roots run deep in New Jersey, where she was raised along the Jersey Shore. A graduate of Rutgers University, Tina has degrees in German and Visual Arts with a concentration in Photography. Her studies took her abroad to study in Kontanz, Germany -and live in Berlin.
Tina now lives in the heart of Manhattan with a weekend house in Connecticut on the Long Island Sound. (sounds dreamy, right?) She and her husband are expecting a little girl in July.
Here is our interview, for you:
01. What has been your favorite shoot so far? Please explain.
It's hard to say what my one single favorite shoot has been but what I love to shoot are cookbooks, especially dessert books. To date I have shot about 20. One gorgeous book was Latin Evolution by Jose Garces, I went to Philadelphia to photograph all of his book in his restaurant. He is known for his spanish tapas, but for this book he went into a conceptual direction so the food was much different than I usually shoot. I was able to photograph it in a very simple, sparse way with barely any props, just focusing on the lighting and the food object. Another favorite was Baked by Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis. They have a bakery in Red Hook Brooklyn and a new one in Charleston SC which I will photograph this spring for their new book.
02. What equipment do you shoot with?
I shoot with the hassleblad H1 and the P45+ PhaseOne back, for lighting I use Profoto 7A Packs.
03. Do you cook? What is your favorite food to cook/eat?
My usual suspect specialties in the kitchen are salads and desserts. You can eat all the sweets you want if you balance them with salad! My husband is the chef in the house actually so it works out. Although this winter I was really into nesting and made some dishes I had never tried before such as, yankee pot roast, butternut squash soup, new england clam chowder and potatoes gratin. Might I add, I am pregnant and we have a house in Connectictut, hence the carb and new england fest!
04. What do you look for in an assistant?
I look for someone who is on the ball, considerate, reliable and an all around good person who wants to learn. I like sharing what I know and have learned.
05. How/when did you catch your big break?
After working on my portfolio for about two years, my first two clients were, Clarkson Potter Publisher (I shot two books for them my first month in business) and Food & Wine magazine. The first shoot I did for F&W was a front of the book story in which they pulled an image from for the cover, my first cover! That was 6 and a half years ago.
I really get inspired from travel. I am writing this at the moment in the Barcelona Airport. During this trip I visited Barcelona, Sevilla and am on the way to Paris before heading back to New York. I love feeling stress free from New York, work and my reality. Although, I still do take many travel photos. It's just wonderful to get lost in another place and go back home being refreshed.
07. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Work can definitely become challenging, mainly when a crew doesn't click. Fortunately in most cases, I am able to choose who I work with as far as stylists, so you really learn what works and what doesn't and you can become more creative in a relaxed environment.
08. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing the end product. I love to get a cookbook in hand that I photographed and see how the recipes, design and photos come together. And then cook or bake from it!!
09. You have photographed many many covers for Food & Wine magazine. Obviously, you have a good relationship with them. Please explain what it takes to keep clients happy for repeat business.
I think to keep clients happy you have to be flexible and yet, shoot your vision at the same time. This is also one of the most challenging things for a photographer. Art directors and photo editors have their visions too and blending them together so that you are all happy, is what in the end matters. I never want to put my name on anything that I am not happy with, so I try as hard as possible to accomplish that every day. Because not only will I be happy but the client will be as well.
10. What advice do you have for budding photographers?
My advice is to really know your vision. It may sound corny but don't do what you think people want, do what you want. It's really about knowing yourself and what makes you happy. Everyone in the business is put into a slot, into a niche, it's inevitable. For me I never found that to be a bad thing, although some photographers do. Since I am happy with what I do and happy with my vision, the niche works out for me.
Thank you, Tina! Readers, if you like this interview, please leave a comment below for Tina.
Photo of Tina by Linda Pugliese.