Burning Down the House: Food Photography With a Dash of Danger

Creative careers may lean toward the cerebral and artistic, but they’re certainly not devoid of adventure. When our own Eric Zepeda teamed up with food stylist Ryan Reinecke for a photo shoot for the Williams-Sonoma website, they saw just how venturesome some shots can be. Luckily, the torch used in the shoot didn’t require taming by the fire department. Here’s the whole out-of-the-box experience, in Eric’s own words.

I don’t know what it is about food stylists and their gadgets, but some of the best ones I’ve worked with have an array of weaponry that is downright impressive. Case in point is stylist extraordinaire Ryan Reinecke. I swear, the guy has a torch collection worthy of it’s own write-up in Cook’s Illustrated, and really it’s just the tip of the iceberg. At times, with all the gizmos on his cart, I think I’m in some kind of weird food ER.

Fast forward to a recent shoot where we had to get three different versions of a barbecue lighter/smoker/torch thingy that, of course, was right up Ryan’s alley. The lighter/torch portion went fairly easily, or as easily as you can get when you’ve got a mini-flamethrower on set, but the smoker — wowza. That was something.

Basically, we had to coordinate two torches, one being the not-so-photogenic-because-it’s-already-been-used one, where we lit the smoker pellets and then transferred the flaming mess into the shiny new unit, and then took the picture, not quite knowing where the smoke would end up. A very Abbot and Costello routine ensued, which was not helped by the knowledge that most of the studio staff had wandered over to see what the giant smoke ball was all about. In the end, we got the shot, and were most fortunate that, with all the smoke, nothing in the way of fire suppression or regulation interrupted our shot.

Here are a few examples of the work Ryan and I have done. He’s a great, talented guy, and I can’t wait to have him on set again.

Eric Mussels

Eric Apples

Eric Fish

Eric Cake

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