Food is Life. Just Ask Photographer Anne Watson.

Current Mood: Any Anne Watson Photo

Every meal has a backstory—and Anne Watson is an expert at telling those stories, evoking strong, universal feelings of connection through her award-winning food photography. Food comes with narrative, and every new experience with food—shopping, cooking, sharing meals—creates more sensory experiences and memories. Anne’s passion for food photography and her breadth of experience in the food industry has led to a unique photographic style that is in demand worldwide—and has created a master storyteller.

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Anne’s online portfolio illustrates her take on the intersection of life and food—and displays her instinctive talent and skills in reflecting the very best of Southern California’s burgeoning food and restaurant scene. That doesn’t mean Anne shies away from other challenges, as evidenced by the granola recipes Anne developed as part of her recent product photography shoot for a local artisan food company. And the photos taken at the Newtown Culinary Pop-Up Dinner, billed as an “elevated backyard BBQ experience,” show off the talent, creativity and passion found in the food industry, as well as Anne’s technical skills.

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Away from the camera lens, Anne is a mother and stepmother, living with her husband on a ranch in North San Diego County. We recently caught up with Anne to talk details about her photography, highlights of her day job, and other facets of her very busy life.

Shooting Food Takes Some Serious Equipment

Q. A photographer’s camera is obviously critical to your work. What camera do you use? And what lenses?
A. My main camera is a Nikon D800 – it’s basically an extension of my right arm at this point! As for lenses, I have three main lenses that I tend to use most, two prime lenses and one zoom. My Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 Micro, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, and Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 zoom. I have others in my toolbox, but these three are the ones I carry with me on a daily basis.

 

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A Day in the Life of a Food Photographer

Q.  What is the most unusual setting you’ve ever photographed food in?
A. One of the most unusual, unique shoots I’ve ever done was with the Hass Avocado Board at sunrise in a beautiful avocado grove in the foothills of San Juan Capistrano. We had to drive for miles on tiny dirt roads in the dark to get to our location and set up before the sun rose. Then, when sunrise happened over the avocado trees, it was pure magic. We were able to capture the avocados in their natural setting in the golden hour at sunrise and throughout the morning – including teams of avocado pickers who were harvesting that day, singing together as they worked. It was amazing.

Q. Can you share a story about preparing a food photo shoot that didn’t go as planned? How did they work out and how did you recover?
A.  I have been very fortunate, as I don’t really have a “disaster shoot” story to share. However, I’ve definitely had a handful of shoots where the client had one thing in mind when I showed up (usually it’s a wish-list of more shots than were possible in a given timeframe), and we had to adapt the shot-list as we went along based on what they were able to produce in the amount of time we had.

Personal Preferences

Q. You’re around great food all the time, usually prepared by someone else. Who prepares the food in your home?
A: I absolutely love to cook. I actually started my career working in a professional kitchen in Boston, so cooking is a passion of mine. I just found my best station in a kitchen turned out to be behind a camera instead of a stove! So, I do a lot of cooking in our home kitchen. And my husband, Tim, is an absolutely amazing cook on our grill and outdoor smoker. We eat outside almost every evening in the Spring & Summer, usually with something Tim grilled as the main course, and then side dishes prepared by me in our kitchen.

Q. What are family favorites to cook and/or eat out?
A: Sous Vide BBQ Babyback Ribs are a family favorite to cook in our home – it’s a team effort, as I do the dry rub & sous vide the ribs for at least 12 hours first. Then, Tim grills them to a perfect crunchy exterior with plenty of sticky BBQ sauce before we dive in. They melt in your mouth. Paired with an avocado-tomato-herb salad from our garden, it’s a family Summer BBQ favorite.

Q. Is there an ingredient you can’t live without?
A: Good olive oil. And fresh herbs picked from the garden box that Tim built for us outside of our back door.

Q. You’ve been all over Orange County. What restaurants/food establishments/caterers are your personal favorites?
A: Oh my goodness, that’s a tough question! So many amazing places and incredible caterers, it’s hard to narrow down. I would say the first places that pop to mind, though, are my friends Chef Carlos Salgado’s restaurant, Taco Maria, at Costa Mesa’s SoCo Collection and Chef Jason Quinn’s restaurant, Playground, in Downtown Santa Ana.

Q. When you’re not photographing food, what are your favorite things to do and other personal passions?
A:  My husband Tim & I, and our 3-year-old son Russell, live on a ranch in North San Diego County where we have a 1,300-vine Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard and raise chickens, goats and pigs. So, when I’m not shooting food, my favorite things to do include walking through the vineyard with our son, and spending time with our animals. I also ride a 2010 “Fat Bob” Harley-Davidson motorcycle – Tim & I both ride, and enjoy going out on our motorcycles in our spare time.

Follow Anne Watson Photography on Twitter/Instagram @annewatsonphoto.

Go on a Lark. It’s Good for You.

 

Break Out of Your Rut. Go on a Lark.

It’s been raining here in Southern California. A lot. So break out of the winter doldrums and explore something new—and there is no better way to go on a journey of discovery  than to go on a lark.

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So what exactly is a lark? Founder and owner Lisa Gutierrez-Martinez describes a lark as a pop-up restaurant and marketplace experience—and much, much more. It’s an adventure, an escape from the ordinary—an opportunity to relax and enjoy intellectual conversations with friends and family in an inspirational environment with exceptional food and wine. The unique experience reinvigorates your senses and enriches your life as you and your fellow guests open up and share your passions.

It’s All About Collaboration—and Connection

Building community is what The Hood Kitchen Space and the Lark Artisan Market are all about. The Hood co-owners Shelby Coffman and Christie Frazier support and are a part of the growing group of Orange County food entrepreneurs and chefs finding success at The Hood. And the core of Lark’s business model is to support and nurture passion discovered in the people met along the way, and share that passion with others. And so when Lisa and Shelby met—on a lark, of course—they shared an instant connection from the inspiration and energy they both derive from creative culinary experiences and eclectic, understated and simplified surroundings.

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Through Lark’s collaboration with The Hood, Lisa met one of her most valuable Lark team members, Chef Kyle Powers of Fork In The Road catering, a long-time Hood client and  culinary treasure. And both The Hood and Lark have benefited from shared marketing and exposure, as well as exchanging experiences and ideas that are important to both of their businesses—communal dining, giving back to the community, and inspiring and nurturing through food, art and design.

Do. Reflect. Refine. And do again.

So what does the future hold for Lark? Lisa’s vision of her business as malleable and flexible continues to guide her plans for the future. Lark is constantly reinventing itself, while at the same time holding steady to her commitment to providing the space for people to come together and enjoy simple culinary pleasures in beautiful and inspirational environments. With her many connections to the local Southern California food scene, her knowledge and experience in interior design and art, and her love of discovery, a brick-and-mortar indoor/outdoor space combining all these elements continues to appeal to Lisa.

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But she never wants to be far away from her true passion—producing pop-up dining events—and thinks about expanding from 12 to 24 events per year. Lisa’s belief that the “element of the unknown feeds you creatively and keeps you evolving” moves her forward every day, as she continues to do what she loves—conceptualizing and creating interesting spaces to inspire guests through food, design, art, and conversation. 

Larks are open invite until all seats are full. For more information, visit Lark’s websiteFacebook page or follow Lark on Instagram at @letsgoonalark

Lark Artisan Market is based in Huntington Beach, California.

 

Valenza Chocolatier Creates Amore!

It’s Valentine’s Day. We’re Here to Help.

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Everybody loves chocolate. That’s one reason why chocolate remains a traditional Valentine’s Day gift, year after year. And there are many kinds and brands of chocolate to choose from today—but we just happen to have the inside scoop on one of the best chocolatiers in the business—Valenza Chocolatier.

We’ll admit upfront—we’re biased. Valenza Chocolatier prepares its authentic Italian-inspired artisan chocolate and confections right here in The Hood Kitchen. We’ve had the privilege of watching master chocolatier Amy Jo put her business on the map with her award-winning chocolates and confections—and yes, we’ve spent a lot of time at the gym because of Amy Jo! Amy Jo’s commitment and passion for chocolate is reflected in her Valentine’s Day Collection, perfect for any special person in your life.

“I love deeply, I cherish all the little things, and I adore many people – these are just a few of the ways I express some of my greatest passions. My Valentine’s Day Collection is an expression of how beloved my passions are, and it’s only fitting that the meaning of my name (Amy) also means beloved.”

So act now. Valentine’s Day sneaks up on us every year, and shipping deadlines are tight:

Shipping Order Deadline: Friday, February 3rd, or until sold out; Shipped orders will be mailed USPS on Wednesday, February 8th.

Local Order Deadline: Friday, Feb. 3rd, or until sold out; available for pick up starting Friday, February 10th.

And if you miss the shipping deadline, no worries. Come into The Hood Kitchen Space for Valenza Chocolatier’s Pop Up Shop:

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February 10-11 10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

February 13   12 – 7 p.m.

February 14  10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The Hood Kitchen Space
350-A Clinton Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626