Food photographer Ivana Lalicki shares how her passion for cooking turned into a fulfilling career.
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When Ivana Lalicki couldn’t find a decent loaf of bread near her home in Baltimore, Maryland, she decided to take matters (or, you know, dough) into her own hands. “I am from Europe, so I am crazy about good bread,” the Serbian-born artist explains.
Here, as part of our Share Your Colors campaign, Ivana reveals the best food to photograph, the dish she’s excited to try, and more.
I love cooking because … it’s so creative. It brings beauty and order to a home, and it means good health for the whole family.
A typical workday for me … varies. Sometimes it’s very intense and I have to make a strict plan, because it’s not only about taking pictures of food but also about buying ingredients and props, making or ordering food, and styling. Timing is crucial.
Also, you have to be quick. When food is done, it looks good only for a short time. That said, stuff like French layered cake can be shot a day after I make it.
My work ritual is to … listen to audiobooks while I cook.
After I photograph food … my family eats it, or I share it with friends and neighbors. I don’t like to waste food.
The best food to photograph is … cookies. They look fresh even after many hours, so you can try different styling. Also, they are eye-pleasing no matter how you arrange them. There is something comforting about them.
A dish I’m excited to try making is … baklava from scratch. I mean really from scratch, including making phyllo dough by myself. Stretching dough extra thin is such fun!
A dish I recently made and was proud of is … short ribs braised in red wine with polenta. I tried that dish a couple of times in restaurants but was unhappy with the taste. When I made it myself, I was very pleased.
I started to grow my own foods because … I just love doing thing with my hands, and wanted to be a little bit sustainable. Also, you cannot compare the taste of your own tomato with one from a store.
The foods I grow include … tomato, peppers, arugula, lettuce, radishes, green onions, cucumbers, Swiss chard, kale, sorrel, and a lot of herbs. I have to admit, I feel very proud to practice not only garden-to-table cooking, but also garden-to-table photography.
When I’m in a creative rut … I shop for new plates, kitchen towels, etc. Then, I cannot wait to use them as props for my next cooking project.
I find inspiration … in my travels, in restaurants, in cookbooks and magazines, and even in literature (e.g., when I read classic French authors, I just want to cook French food).
The hardest part about the business of photography is … the time it takes to establish yourself and be in demand, as with any creative work.
My advice to aspiring photographers is … develop your skills and experiment. Be patient. If you are a good photographer, at some point, you will start to get opportunities.
Cover image via Ivana Lalicki.