This month I'd like to introduce you to a talented photographer and creator Kristina Smodila.
Can you introduce yourself? How and when did you start your food photography journey?
I am Kristina Smodila, a food stylist and photographer from Slovenia. I am an explorer of food and life beauty through the lens.
As a typical libra sign, my thing is to strive for pretty things. I studied fashion design in high school and continued my education at University for graphics & print. I was always business oriented and by the age of 22, I established my own graphic design company, which I am still running and developing. My passion for food and styling goes a long time back. It all started with my love to decorate the table, collecting pretty bowls and plates, cooking, baking, and hosting dinner events and all kinds of gatherings. In 2015 I was invited to be the designer and co-owner of the first Slovene culinary lifestyle magazine. This was my first serious dating with food styling. I soon started helping different photographers to set up food scenes. The magazine was self published, with our own resources. In 2016 together with my colleague (from the magazine) were invited to participate in a recipe project for a very well-known Slovene supermarket chain. We created video recipes and photos with a team of professional photographers and videographers. In the meantime, I got hired for recipe creating projects, food styling and photography for various clients and brands. I loved creating stylings and still strive for something more, something with my unique signature. In December 2019, I made a big step in my career, I signed up for a photography class and started practising almost every day and publishing my food styling photographs on my Instagram account. A few years ago I decided I would like to have more time for photography and styling, I wanted them to become more than just a hobby, so I decided to improve my photography skills. I cooked, baked, and attended workshops, there was a lot of asking, exploring and Googling, and I started taking photos and practising day by day. I invested all my free time to grow and develop a food business. With time I learned more about style development, workflow and about where my creative path is going.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you adore any specific photographers?
I find inspiration around me, in nature, in creative people, and lots of times in a farmers market or in a grocery store when I see some pretty ingredient or package design. Or simply just looking at my prop collection.
Oh, I adore Pinterest of course 😉
What do you think should be in a good portfolio?
It is a great question and in fact, I need to work on it as well. A great portfolio should show various examples of photos, still somehow with your invisible signature. No matter the style or the »model« it should look like your style. The good showcase also contains a mix of portrait and landscape orientation, wide angles and details or macro shots. All these ads diversity to your work and catches the viewer's attention.
How do you prepare a food-styling set?
First I decide on the mood and the message because in that keynote I choose the colour palette, style, backdrops and props. Sometimes there is a recipe for the magazine and I try just to focus on the food, not get carried away with wider stylings and props. I try to have prepared as much as I can in advance. Also some water nearby, paper towels, scissors, brushes and all these useful tools that I don't loose time searching for them all around.
Do you work with natural or artificial light?
I work with both. I adore natural light as it is, but I also like to have more creative control with artificial light.
What is a must have in food photography?
I think mostly you need to have a love for food, a magic touch, which can be a gift or you develop one and a passion. All that wrapped with lots and lots of practice.
What’s your favourite subject to shoot and why?
Desserts. I find them so feminine and delicate. I like to combine flowers into styling, so desserts are perfect for that. They also go along with some pretty drinks and fruits.
Do you have your favourite colour palette? And do you have colours you don’t feel comfortable with?
Ha, lately I am very much into the brown palette, maybe the winter brought some warm browns from the forest with it. And also green, and purple, I like all the colours and so far there isn't any colour combination that I wouldn't feel comfortable with. It is actually a challenge to implement a certain colour, especially if it is a very strong one, like red or yellow. Maybe I don't use blue so much and that is just because it is not such a natural colour like there aren't any blue ingredients except blueberries and purple cabbage, which can both look more purple-ish in many cases.
Do you like Festive Spirit and shootings in this theme?
I absolutely love it! I am a huge Christmas fan. Can't wait to post more Christmas photos.
My December challenge is about Festive Spirit and Christmas Lights. Do you have some tips for beginners about this theme?
Love the challenge idea! For me, it helps to get into the mood and the easiest way to do that is to play some good Christmas jazzy jingles during stylings. The festive spirit is for sure capturing happy, cheerful moments on the table so have that in mind. For the food itself, there are plenty of ideas, from cookies, bundts, creamy eggnog drink variations, and pretty cakes to the savoury part with some fine roasts, baked potatoes, roasted winter veggies, creamy sauces, ...
For the scene, you create a festive mood with wrapping paper, Christmas ornaments, sprinkles, some fake snow, candles, spruce branches, champagne bottle on the side. Maybe a table setting with napkins and all that comes along. Try to implement a part of festive into your styling. You don't need much, just a touch of it. You can create Christmas feel with the dress or just a part f the dress when you holding that cake. For the Christmas lights play with depth and try to capture that magical feel. You can learn just by putting two wine glasses on the setup and playing with lights in the background. The wine can sit on the scene for a long time, just make sure you don't drink it before you finished.