Part of what I love about the food world are the stories the exist behind each bite. It’s something I’m not alone in loving either. While I try to express those stories via the written word, Huge Galdones (hitherto referred to as “THE Man”) expresses those stories via photography. To put it plainly, he produces some of the best food porn you’ll ever see.
I had the chance to check in with THE Man and learn more about his love of food and photography, how he got involved in the food community (going to need to talk to him more about working the line at Joe Beef!), and his favorite food memories, both personal and work related.
Foodie Journal: Making a conscious decision to do a lot of photography of food, and the culinary world in general, would imply that you love food. Have you always been in to food?
Huge Galdones: I’ve always had a crush on food as I’ve never a picky eater, though If I was, I’d definitely be skinnier! I blame my obsession on three things: (1) PBS (Julia Child, Martin Yan, Jacques Pepin); (2) friends in the industry and (3) friends equally obsessed with eating out and cooking for others.
FJ: How did you come about choosing photography as a profession? When did food enter the picture? It’s an awful pun, I know… but it just fits too well to not use it.
HG: I basically turned my passion into my profession, letting everything fall into place. All through undergrad and grad school (and no, I wasn’t a major in Fine Arts, Journalism or Photography), I was finding any excuse to shoot— from the school newspaper, fashion shows, street festivals to eventually interning with the Montreal Canadiens, I learnt the craft shooting sports and events.
That being said, it was when I worked the line at Joe Beef (Montreal) and their sister restaurants that I connected my two passions. I don’t know how I got away with it but I would be peeling asparagus one minute then taking pictures of my mise en place the next. Working with that crew made me not only fall in love with photographing sexy food but capturing the untold stories of the back-of-house.
When I started noticing several opportunities made my business more sustainable like shooting for Cochon555 for instance, I decided to leave my day job and focus on building my portfolio and brand. As a Canadian operating out of Chicago, and all over the US, really, many have said that I’m living the ‘American Dream.’
FJ: How has the work you’ve done changed your perspective on food and cooking in general?
HG: My perspective really changed when I started working the line rather than shooting the line. Showcasing what goes into a finished dish— from the farmers, the purveyors and the cooks— is what motivates me to do what I do. It’s the story behind the bite that I find most compelling and I hope that my work highlights that just as much as the final product.
FJ: So everyone and their brother tries to take pictures of their food, more often than not in dimly lit restaurants while using the flash of their smartphones. Can you talk just a little bit, maybe from a high level, what goes in to making food photography seem so effortless?
HG: ‘Seem’ being the operative word. A lot of elements contribute to a successful photo shoot and effortless is the last thing that comes to mind. It likely sounds cliched but tons of practice and trusting your eye and gut has to take the cake.
FJ: Could you offer up a tip for people wanting to taking better pictures of their food, be it at home or in restaurants?
HG: When I shoot with my iPhone, I focus on two things: sharpness (no one likes a blurry picture) and composition (something as simple as the Rule of Thirds helps immensely!).
FJ: Having the opportunity to be so involved in the food world, and having as much exposure as you’ve had, I’m sure you’ve had some really cool experiences, and by extension, memories. So rather than just ask you for an individual food memory that is a favorite of yours, I’m going to ask you for two! Do you have a personal food memory that really stands out for you? How about a professional food memory? One related specifically to the work you’ve done.
HG: I have so many food memories that still resonate to this day. It’s really hard to pick just one but the first one that comes to mind was my bachelor party in NYC. Ten of us set ourselves up at Momofuku Ssam Bar (well before it was as bigtime as it is now) and proceeded to get killed, course after course after course, by the kitchen staff. Everything was on point and, given the special context, is still one of the most memorable meals that I’ve ever experienced.
Professionally, I still pinch myself every time I attend (or shoot, rather) the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen. There’s nothing like surrounding yourself with people that you admire and look up to. Like a cook in the heat of service, being in the the thick of it all reminds me how much I love my job!
Huge Galdones is the awesomeness behind Galdones Photography. Check out his website for more information.