Design Assembly recently got the opportunity to chat with lifestyle photographer Vanessa Lewis to find out more about her work and her passions.
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Hi Vanessa, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. Can you tell our readers a little bit about who you are and what you do.
I am a food, decor and lifestyle photographer. I am a freelancer and work for various magazines, design agencies and advertising agencies.
How did you initially get started in the industry?
After 3 years of full time studies, I started by assisting a food photographer. The job description included everything from making tea to carrying equipment up many flights of stairs.
Whereabouts are you based?
I live in Auckland and I am in the process of building my own studio. At the moment I hire a studio if a studio is required, otherwise I find myself in beautiful locations on assignment or just working from the chef/food writer’s kitchens.
What are some of the best bits, and also some of the challenges about what you do?
The best part is enjoying the delicious food, sometimes on set and sometimes as a dinner take away. I also love meeting new people and food producers and get to travel a bit around NZ for these food story assignments. Décor photography allows me a peek into other people’s beautiful homes — I love seeing how other people interpret their living spaces and I often get an idea or two from that for my own home. The challenges of being a freelancer is the unpredictability, your week can fill up in a second and some weeks are slow — I use this time to do prop sourcing, as I style some of my shoots as well. Running your own business also means you have to handle all the admin, which includes quotes, invoices, bookings and tax — the not fun parts.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
Little Tables — a cookbook I produced — I conceptualised, styled and photographed it. It was a personal project that evolved into a book. It was inspired by my daughter and features kids eating different breakfasts from around the world. There are 72 recipes from 32 countries on six continents. It was published by Beatnik [New Zealand] late last year.
It was also awarded second prize at the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards.
Your images are really beautiful. Do you have any insider tips for budding photographers out there?
[Thank you] Sometimes the most beautiful things are the small details that surround you caught in pretty light. Have your camera nearby. I love natural light and mostly use it.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I love Instagram, Pinterest and Vimeo, there is usually something there that inspires me. Nature and a trip to the food store which sometimes has unexpected produce, also inspire me to do a shoot.
Personal work: Milk: [my cat Sparkles and daughter, Nina]
Foraging article I photographed for Nadia magazine June July 2017
Other published editorial content [Bauer media – Feijoa]
What’s next for you in 2017? What do you have lined up?
Building and finalising my new studio will most probably take up most of my free time, I also have two new cookbook /food books lined up.
Thanks for your time Vanessa, and all the best for the rest of the year!