Julia: You came to lifestyle photography after working in the restaurant business for 12 years. Can you tell me a little about that experience, where you worked and how it lead you to do the work you do now?
Julia: I got my first restaurant job when I was 14. I quickly worked my way up ladder. The longer I worked in the industry, the higher my aspirations became; I dreamed of working at the French Laundry with Thomas Keller. At the age of 21, I moved to NYC where I worked with Andrew Carmellini and in other various NYC spots. I quickly realized that I had a lot more to offer.
I had always loved and appreciated interior design, gardens and lifestyle as a whole. I often had a camera in my hand and documented my life. All of that came together when I channeled my passions through the lens, and I pushed myself to improve everyday. Social media and blogging really helped me establish a name for myself.
Julia: Judging from your blog and Instagram, you are constantly taking photos. Do you feel yourself improving all the time?
Nicole: I cannot stop snapping! It’s ridiculous really. I am an instagram addict and post as many as 1-4 images a day. At this point in my career, I have honed in on what I should be shooting and what I love to shoot most.
Julia: Do you get to eat the food at the restaurants you shoot? Or is it all so styled and man-handled to the point of being inedible by the time you are done shooting?
Nicole: Ha! This is both the advantage and disadvantage to shooting food. Yes I do typically eat the restaurant food because 98% of the time its a perfectly edible when we are done with it. When you’re shooting a restaurant they are giving you what they give to customers, so why not!?! I typically can’t say no to these delicious things and it shows in my waistline. When I work with a food stylist this is not always the case. The dish built to look beautiful and taste is often not a consideration.
Julia: The Brooklyn food explosion cannot be divorced from the thousands of images posted of food/restaurants/cocktails in this borough. Do you think this has had an affect on how chefs plate and present their food?
Nicole: It’s true, everyone takes photos of their food now. I don’t think it has too much of an impact on how chefs plate. They typically present well because they are artists and care about presentation. Obviously if they are plating a dish for a photo, a little extra care will be put into it. One unfortunate thing that I am seeing in a lot in social media, is people shooting their food in a super dark candle-lit restaurants. This does no justice to the food, and in fact, it makes the food look really unappetizing. There are great articles out there now on how to take the best food photos with your iPhone, like this one in Condé Nast Traveler.
Julia: I know you love to shoot interiors. Is there a location in Brooklyn that is particularly close to your heart? One that you have shot or that you would love to shoot?
Nicole: Oh this is a tough one, I love so many Brooklyn restaurant interiors; we are really doing some amazing things. Just to name a few that I love in particular: Maison Premiere, Five Leaves, a new place called Coco is super cute, Glasserie, Marlowe & Sons, Reynards at the Wythe and the rooftop bar Ides. Check them out!
Julia: What is the most beautiful salad you have ever taken a photo of?
Nicole: I don’t have a specific favorite, but salads are actually in fact one of my favorite things to shoot. I love the freshness, the vibrancy, the color. I am a huge salad eater so it’s close to my heart.