There are pictures that I could look at over and over, without ever tiring of them. They look happy. They make me smile. They make me happy.
Last weekend, I was a lucky girl. I packed my bags, and off I went again, this time to Chicago. The five days spent in the windy city were filled with memorable moments: a surprise birthday party organized for my mother-in-law, with family and friends who traveled from Seattle, Dublin, and England; our stay at one of P.’s funny-ah-ah old friends, in a part of Chicago — I nicknamed it “the village” — that I was delighted to explore on foot (oh, we loved our visit to the Bourgeois Pig Café); and finally, the meeting of an amazingly talented photographer and his friendly team, in an appealing photo studio tucked away on Walnut Street. Five days that I will not fail to remember, ça c’est sûr !
I was lucky to first meet Jeff Kauck through my blog a while ago, and after we exchanged a few emails, we decided to meet, for real. As soon as I shook hands with this welcoming smiling man, I knew that I was going to spend a great time in his studio. And I did indeed.
Jeff is a Chicago-based photographer with many talents. Plein de cordes à son arc. He has worked on many cookbooks and advertisements, and is a 2005 James Beard Photography nominee. From looking at his pictures, you quickly realize that he is a true artist at mastering the perfect color tones, and finding the best light possible to enhance his well-composed, elegant food scenes. Each picture is a treat for the eyes; each tells a story that you wished you were part of. I did not tell him, but I nicknamed him the light magician.
I attended a session during which Jeff and his team, food stylists and assistant, shot stock photos. Beautiful food kept passing by me: chocolate and pound cake slices nicely arranged on white plates, corn salad, or colorful pasta. “You will be able to eat some when we are done,” Jeff’s producer, Janice, told me when she noticed my eyes lit with greediness at the sight of such scrumptious-looking food. I was pleased to hear that most of their food is completely edible. I asked Jeff where he typically found his inspiration, or how he liked to compose his images, and all I heard in his reply was his obvious attachment to finding the perfect light.
“In every city, there is a different hue in the light,” he said. I could not agree more: P. and I constantly rave about the astonishing warm, orange light we can have in Boston during the fall and winter. “I was in Provence and Italy this year, but for some odd reason, I could not find the same light as I usually do.” Could it be because like everywhere else in France, summer failed to happen? “I still had a wonderful time though, especially when I spent one week working with Patricia Wells.”
Perhaps like me, you will not be surprised to hear that Jeff started as a watercolor painter. He particularly privileges highlights, working from the mid-tones up. Think Donna Hay and the beautifully rich Australian light found in Sydney for a minute, and you will find something similar in Jeff’s work: harmonious inviting color tones, freshness and cleanliness. Look at his pictures, they speak for themselves. It is obvious, Jeff is passionate, and really loves what he does.
Now, will you believe me if I tell you that, as I was so absorbed by all the action happening around me, I was simply too shy and intimidated to take my camera out, and failed to record these moments on film. Needless to say, though, that I came back home truly inspired.
Completely sous le charme.
All the pictures shown in this post are from Jeff Kauck Photography.