I’m finally blogging some photographs from the burrito cookbook I photographed at the beginning of the year. This was a huge undertaking. The authors, Donna Kelly and Sandra Hoopes, cooked the food and I helped style the burritos for the photo shoot. The photo shoot was spread over about 4 days. I was also the prop stylist. The authors had some props that we used but with some of the photography budget I did visit Pier One, Deseret Industries, Bed Bath & Beyond, and a few other stores for props such as salad plates, napkins, placemats, silverware, and more. I also put together a kit of large and small tweezers, clamps, pins, and more for the food styling.
The assignment from the publisher was 35 finished burritos and 5 ingredient photographs. The author’s original concept was a worldwide experience of burritos. There would be a sushi burrito, mongolian beef burrito, a Korean style burrito. So the styling would have a fusion of world cultures and burritos. We had to also keep a bit of southwestern flavor in most of the photography. I am really happy with the results.
All of the photography is natural light photography. This did cause a bit of a time crunch because we had to be done before the sunset to have great window light. The publishers also wanted light and airy with lots of color. I think the natural light helped create light and airy. Can I do that with strobes? Absolutely, it is just easier with natural light. Perhaps the next cookbook I photograph will be all studio strobes.
Most all of the burritos could be eaten after the photo shoot. We did use toothpicks and some pins to keep the tortillas closed. We used tweezers of various sizes to artistically place the ingredients. We would add some items such as green onions one at a time so they looked fresh.
This burrito’s styling was completely my own. I styled the apple slices, cinnamon stick, caramel drizzle, whip cream, and even a dusting of cinnamon & sugar powder. My friend Nicolesy is a food photographer that has written several food photography books and I would consult with her for feedback and she would give both positive and critical feedback.
We also wanted to have some unconventional burritos. This New Mexico Frito Pie Burrito is in a mason jar because you can put the ingredients in the jar and warm them up at work and add them to a tortilla afterwards. Burritos on the go!
And I had the chance to sample a number of the burritos and they were delicious.
We had a fun time with the S’mores burrito. We photographed the burrito at each stage of creation. We ended up using the photo of the burritos smothered in chocolate sauce.
When I was first approached by the publishers to photograph the burrito cookbook I had to figure out if this was an attainable project. If you analyze burritos they could look the same. Burritos are in fact food inside a tortilla. The secret was hot to present the internal ingredients in manner that makes people hungry! We tried to mix it up for each photograph. Some burritos were cut in half, others were rolled like sushi hand rolls, and others were stacked.
The Asian fusion burritos were presented as sushi rolls. I’m not above playing up some stereotypes.
Big projects like these serve as learning processes for all involved. The experience I’ve gained as a food photographer and as a food stylist will help with the next project. I just need to keep working on more food photography projects. And I need to practice more food styling and different lighting and prop styling.
Perhaps I’ll share more burrito photos again but go buy the book!