Meeting Jeff Kauck — La rencontre avec Jeff Kauck

jeff kauck photography chicago

Jeff Kauck Photography

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 !

jeff kauck photography chicago

Jeff Kauck Photography

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.

jeff kauck photography

Jeff Kauck Photography
Posted in Food & Travel, Food Photography, Food Styling


  1. Those lemon photographs are the most beautiful things I have ever seen – I could look at them all day too! Wow….

  2. Jeff’s photos are beautiful! But Bea, you are one of my inspirations when it comes to photography!

  3. Lovely Bea! Sounds like a great trip. I’m envious of your day in Jeff’s studio! (and I would have been just as shy as you about pulling out a camera)

  4. I love Jeff’s work! I remember seeing his work before along with an interview on matt bites and I’ve been a fan ever since!

  5. He’s got some nice photography – I like the tea house phots on his site. But honestly, I like yours better.

  6. Dear Béa,
    Do you know the name for those adorable cookie sandwiches rolled in sugar, so I could research recipes?
    Thank you!

  7. Une superbe rencontre… Yes, light varies from one place to another! Your pictures are astonishingly beautiful!



  8. C’est vrai que les photos sont belles ! Mais c’est quand même mieux avec les recettes !
    Et si tu te lançais dans ses/ces tartares de poissons !? Bon sujet pour la lumière !…

  9. hey these are some fantastic shots bea. Wish i could join u to the photo shoot .I’d gladly carry things around and hold the reflectors and props 🙂

  10. So beautiful…and yes the light is everything. I live in Key West and the blues here are so intense, as the sunsets – so much saturated color. Cheers!

  11. Bea, isn’t always such a treat to meet someone who makes you stop for a second and say, “yes, this is why I do what I do, this is why I want to keep learning, keep growing, keep improving”? Sometimes we forget about the “others”, our mentors, and become a little isolated in the daily churning of our own work. It’s such a great thing to find someone to inspire you to keep learning, to not stagnate and to reach upwards and forwards with all your strength. You’ve already grown so much from the first days of this blog and you’ll just keep getting stronger as long as you don’t forget your inspiration. And one day you’ll be that famous inspiration who others want to spend a day in the studio of!

  12. “Happy” and “magician”…yes…you had the perfect words. Thank you for showcasing this true artist and master!

  13. You make this sound so very easy Béa. You showcase Jeff and his art with inspiration. Oh and those little balls in sugar, what is that sandwiched in there? I like that he’s a smiling man but what I like best maybe the sense of dreams coming true. Fantastic photos and story.

  14. Your own work is extremely reminiscient of Jeff’s – I don’t think you’d be out of place at all with a position in his studio.

    What I love about Jeff’s work is the way he likes to flood an image with light from back to front.

  15. “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,” you said. And that is exactly how I feel about his photos too. I felt the same way when I look at Donna Hay’s magazines.

    Isn’t it amazing, photos that looks happy make us happy!

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. What a great experience it must have been. I bet you returned home full of inspiration and perhaps a couple of Jeff Kauck’s tricks up your sleeve.

  17. Bonjour, ma petite Bea, je ne vois pas de difference avec les tiennes.

    Long time ago… j’ai envoyé un petit mot. a cette époque je n’avis pas d’ordinateur perso, maintenant c’est fait. Je suis comblée par tes recettes, tes photos et… surtout …j’ai fais des progrès en anglais.


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  19. Thank you everyone for stopping by, once more, and the kind words. I will respond to your comments tomorrow!

  20. I met Jeff a few years ago (at his studio too) and was SO inspired. I loved the way he encourages people who are interested in food styling! He is so genuine. It is so great you got to meet him! Such fun.

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