I “met” Heather Gill via the lovely Denise Vivaldo and we seemed to immediately clicked. Her images have something romantic about them - clean, crisp and creative. They often remind me of a gorgeous painting. I am so glad Heather agreed to tell us a little about herself and her work. She is a multi-faceted person who has been in the business for a very long time and has a pool of experience to share.
I hope you enjoy reading this piece as she shows us how to find the perfect food story with images.
I am a chef. I am a photographer. I am a storyteller. I connect people to simple but very important moments in their life. Everyone has a food story. Yes I know that’s easy for me to say since I’m a chef. But really stop and think about it. I’m sure you can think of a food story. Okay, I’ll start.
I’m remembering when I was a little girl. I must have been 5 or 6 years old. The smell of cinnamon is very strong, than I smell other Christmas spices. I don’t even have to be in the kitchen to know that grandma is making Depression cake. I know she has the big green Tupperware bowl out and a big wooden spoon. If I close my eyes I can even see her stirring it.
See now it’s your turn. What food story do you remember? Maybe you don’t have one that stands out as clearly as mine but if you think about it you will find one. That is what I get to do every day, tell food stories. It is a pleasure and an honor to tell something that has been passed on for generations or maybe I am just getting the privilege of ‘hearing’ it for the first time. My stories are with photographs. The written word doesn’t always tell the whole story for me. So what my words can’t say my camera does.
I know that’s a really long way to say that when I set out to make photographs these things are on my mind. What story am I telling? Who is going to hear this story? Do these props, food, styling work with the story I’m telling? Could I tell it in a simpler manner?
I’ve always thought that as a classically trained chef its part of my job to connect people to food every day. This is where I tell stores or begin to form the stories for later. Now as a photographer I’m finding so many people in everyday life that have food stories to tell me. And these are what I get to share with people through my photography.
If you think about what story you want to tell when you begin to photograph something, the pictures will appear.
Heather played along and answered the quick fire questions for us. Enjoy!
By far my husband and my daughter! They inspire me to want to be a better me everyday and go
out and inspire others to see the world in a beautiful way.
Which camera do you use the majority of the time?
5D Mark II
You can only have one lens for the rest of your life, what is it?
24-70 f2.8 it lives on the camera most of the time. If allows me to get up close if I need to but pull
things closer to me if I can’t.
Which photo are you currently most proud of?
Strangely enough it’s not a food photo. It’s a composite of 10 different images that includes my
daughter and a tree and many layers of beautiful color and texture. Other than 1 layer of texture I
photographed all the images.
Prime or zoom?
It depends on what I’m photographing. I have quite a few primes and when I want to force myself
to look at something differently I put on a prime so that I have to look at what I’m photographing
from all angles. Not sure why I can’t just think to do this with a zoom lens but a prime makes you
think and look at things differently. I love them both for different reasons. My daughter has taken
an interest in photography and I’m only letting her use a 50mm lens.
You could have anyone in the world take your portrait, who is it?
Sue Bryce - I’m going to go to Sydney, Australia someday and have her take my portrait. It will
What was your proudest moment in your photography career so far?
I’ve just been given the position of photo editor of Edible Phoenix magazine. It’s a local food
magazine here in Phoenix.
If you could tell yourself anything when you first started out, what would you say?
You are going to meet some of the most amazing people. Don’t try to rush onto the next thing,
enjoy what is happening right now. Very soon you will be onto the next thing.
Where are you from?
Favorite photography website?
So many to choose from! I regularly read online magazines and Sweet Paul and Kinfolk are very
high up there on inspiration for me.
Who have you learned the most from?
Also so many people to choose from, the one that has been an amazing mentor to me is Denise
Vivaldo. I cannot say enough about how wonderful she has been to me and where I’m going in this
How old are you?
I am 43 years old.
About Heather Gill:
Heather is a culinary trained chef, Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon and a professionally trained photographer, Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana. She has been working in the food industry for over 20 years and in the past 8 years turned to photography as a way to tell stories. She lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is the photo editor of Edible Phoenix, a James Beard award winning magazine. She sells select pieces of her fine art at a local gallery called JAM.
Edible Phoenix: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/phoenix/