Welcome to Behind the Scenes with Lucie Beck. A blog where behind the scenes knowledge is shared by various photographers around the world. We are all connected by our passion for food and photography. This weeks guest: Eva Elijas from @fleurrustique.
My name is Eva and I am a natural light photographer and digital content creator living in rural Estonia. These days I mostly capture creative frames of food, edible/drinkable products and my garden, however, before the pandemic started I was also an avid travel photographer.
In addition to taking photos I develop recipes for my food blog Gurmeeaed. As of now I only write the posts in Estonian, but have plans to make it accessible to an English speaking audience in the near future.
How did you start with food photography and how did you learn?
I was acquainted with a camera rather early on in life – I started taking photos around the age of 10. Back then my family had this old school Kodak film camera. The anticipation of getting the films developed was very exciting; the quality of the photos, on the other hand, was questionable. I got my first DSLR in 2008, but it was only about four years ago that I came to believe photography is something I could pursue as a career and so I signed up for Eva Kosmas Flores’ food photography course when it first launched. This is where my learning journey officially began.
I am the kind of person who prefers a more hands on approach when it comes to acquiring a new skill – technical manuals and textbooks bore me. Therefore most of my working knowledge of photography has derived from trial and error. As a passionate foodie I’d always known it was food photography I wanted to learn most about.
Could you describe your style?
The first word that comes to mind when describing my signature style is ‘moody’. I am enthusiastic about all things rustic and natural – earthy tones, rich textures, botanical patterns, raw beauty. I am also an autumn person. All of the aforementioned is reflected in my visual language.
How do you nurture your creativity?
Creativity is energy and therefore the best way to nurture it is through rest. Every once in a while I abandon my camera for a number of days to give my creative brain (as well as my wrist) a break. Immersing myself in a different creative or meditative activity like gardening, cooking or arranging flowers leaves me feeling creatively nourished. When urgently in need of a creative boost I like to flip through stacks of artsy (cook)books or watch my favourite episodes of ‘Chef’s Table’ on Netflix.
Which photographers and/or artists inspire you?
The list of creatives who inspire me is extensive, so I will only mention the photographers who have influenced me to the greatest measure: Katie Quinn, Beth Kirby, Jella Juulia Bertell, Betty Shin Binon, Eva Kosmas Flores and Christall Lowe. Every single one of these women has such a unique way of seeing, creating and capturing beauty.
Would you like to improve your foodphotography skills?
What is the most important skill of a food photographer?
The most important skill of a food photographer has to be attention to detail! Sure there are many things that can be fixed post production, but the amount of energy, effort and time that can be saved by getting the photo right to begin with is priceless. Making sure the lenses, filters, props and backdrops are clean and dust free is a good place to start.
How do you continue to learn as a creative?
It was only when I started working with my first clients that I realised how little I actually know about being a photographer and content creator. I think learning never ends as a creative since one simply couldn’t know everything about everything. This field is huge and expanding at a rapid speed as demand for new content is only increasing.
Every year I invest in my creative development. I’ve taken online courses on food blogging, cookbook writing and recipe development, running a creative business and the workings of creative process in general. I am also a bit of a bookworm, so my collection of creativity and photography related titles is growing, too.
How do clients find you? Who is your ideal client?
Majority of my clients have found me on Instagram, but last year I was contracted to shoot custom content for Pexels and Canva, so a couple of my clients have approached me through these channels.
My ideal client is a natural food, beverage or garden brand that practices sustainability and actively gives back to Mother Earth.
Where do you create your photos?
Up until mid October this year most of the indoor photos were taken at random spots around the house (where ever I could find flattering light that is), however, I have now moved into my tiny home studio space, so going forward this is where I’ll be making the magic happen. When the weather allows it I take my food scenes to the garden or greenhouse or even the forest on occasion.
How do you make sure you find a balance between leisure/home and work?
Since I work at home primarily, finding a good balance between work and play is a challenge I am constantly faced with. I consider myself to be very lucky doing work I thoroughly enjoy, but that doesn’t make one immune to burnout. I have to remind myself weekly to take some time off for me and my hobbies. The garden is my perfect escape from work thoughts, it’s where I go to recharge.
What lessons did you learn along the way?
The biggest lesson that took me the longest time to learn was how to get white balance (the colour temperature of the light source) right. I was stubbornly using the auto setting for an eternity and really wish I’d paid attention to this earlier on. The other more crucial lessons have been about making sure the subject is in focus and always double checking the batteries are charged and memory cards wiped before a shoot.
How do you prepare a photography & styling set? Where do you start, do you use a mood board?
My work process always starts with pen and paper. Before looking for visual references I write down the goals and objectives of the photoshoot. The next step involves creative brainstorming – thinking about the overall look and feel or the atmosphere of the images I am intent to create and what do I need to achieve it. This step often also involves getting the first draft of the shot list done. I rarely make a mood board for personal projects, but when a client has given me specific guidelines as to what they are after visually, I use a mood board to confirm we’re on the same page. The preparations for a set usually don’t involve much more than putting up a tripod, reflectors or diffusers (when needed) and a backdrop. Everything else sort of happens on the go. I am a more free spirited creative/photographer and tend to make detail oriented decisions on impulse.
Which light do you work prefer (daylight/artificial)?
Natural light is definitely the light for me. That being said, cities at night lit by streetlamps, storefronts and neon signs are very satisfying to photograph, too.
What are your dreams for the future?
I am a big dreamer and I dream big! I also like to call them plans and not dreams. Shorter term dreams involve shooting a cookbook, launching my online print shop and photography resource library. In the past year I’ve started shooting more video footage and would like to step up my game in that area. Long term I would love nothing more than open a small (home) restaurant or organise supper clubs serving seasonal dishes prepared with produce from my garden and local farms. All my future dreams/plans have something to do with either food, garden or photography.