Photographer Ellen Silverman, based in New York City, is basically self-taught. She got her start as an assistant, and then began shooting on her own 25 years ago. At first she used strobes, then hot lights. Then she started working with natural light for most of her editorial and cookbook photography. Working with daylight can be a problem if you need consistency, she says, so she uses lights when she needs them.
Ellen has photographed many cookbooks, including The Cuban Table, which she initiated after a trip to Cuba. In mid-career, she attended graduate school at the School of Visual Arts in New York City where she began shooting video, including a piece about Cuba called My Roots Lie Here.
For artificial light, Ellen sometimes prefers a strip light for the narrow light and beautiful texture it can provide. She might add a “Florentine” fill card on one side and black card on the opposite side to create more contrast. She prefers to work with a prop and food stylist but sometimes does her own styling.
The shot featured here was done for BONDST Restaurant in New York City. Ellen used a strobe bounced into a white ceiling for overall exposure. She placed a medium soft box on the left combined with a head with a grid, also on the left, to create highlights on the food. She tests each light separately so she knows exactly what each light is contributing to the overall image.
Click here to see Ellen's website.