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Site for sore eyes

(article, Liz Crain)

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When Blog Feed caught up with Lara Ferroni of Cook & Eat earlier this summer for a column about the visual bounty of blogging, we learned a lot. So much, in fact, that we decided to talk with her again, this time all about her picture-perfect bloggy pursuits. 
Ferroni maintains four websites, including a portfolio, a food-styling and photography site, a personal blog, and her food blog, Cook & Eat. For the latter, she buys props at thrift stores, bakes an exorbitant amount of pretty sweets and savories, and posts a wide array of photo-rich posts.
[%image Lara float=right width=250 caption="Lara Ferroni not only cooks and eats, but photographs too." credit="Photo courtesy Lara Ferroni"] 

p(blue).Blog: Cook & Eat
Average posts per month: 6 
Blogger: Lara Ferroni
Age: 38
Blog place of origin: Seattle, WA
This spring Ferroni's food photography debuted in Seattle Magazine, and she hopes that more professional food photography and styling projects will follow. What started more than two years ago as a Web resource and forum for recipes is now an insightful food blog with a loyal readership. 

Ferroni's circle of photography-loving blogosphere pals includes Bea of La Tartine Gourmande, Matt of Mattbites, and Heidi of 101 Cookbooks.
What's in your fridge right now?
Herbs, herbs, and more herbs. I just finished a photo shoot for a local herb company. I gave my neighbors as much as they would take, but I still have a whole fridge full. In fact, I need to get busy on doing something so they don't just spoil. There are also about a few bottles of rosé chilling to have on hand for nice summer days like today.
What's the latest discovery you've made in photographing food? 
Getting a great-looking espresso shot is even harder than photographing ice cream. With ice cream, as it melts, I think it looks even more edible. But the crema on a shot only lasts about 20 seconds before it becomes just a tiny little line floating on top. Eventually, you have to give up and shoot from the top. 

h1. Liz's favorite posts


1. Carli’s Bee Cheese
2. Mornings Are For Muffins
3. A Sandwich Over A Year In The Making
4. Persimmon Madeleines


What's a behind-the-scenes fact about food styling that most people wouldn't know?
Vaseline is often used as food glue, and adding corn syrup into sauces make them easier to get those cool drips and swirls. But you won't find that in any of my food shots, since I don't bill myself out as a commercial food stylist. 
I do style my own food shots, but I almost always eat them afterwards, so my fiddling is kept to doing the best of what I can with the ingredients already in the dish. 

One thing that many people might not be aware of is that different countries have very different laws when it comes to what is permissible with food styling. In Australia, for example, I believe everything has to be natural. But I am not a lawyer; do not take this as legal advice.
[%image buttercupcakes float=right width=250 caption="Delectable treats." credit="Photo courtesy Lara Ferroni"] 

What's your professional history?
I have a background in software. I started Web development back in the very early days of HTML, long before scripting. I was at Microsoft for almost nine years, primarily as a program manager focused on user experience. Photography was a relatively new hobby for me (only a couple of years now) that has started to turn into much more. 
How long have you been a photographer? 
I guess I've been a photographer for a long time, but only seriously for about a year and a half. Before then, I was strictly a snap-shooter and really didn't know an f-stop from a shortstop.

Who has had the most influence on your blog?
My family certainly has a big influence on what I choose to cook, although sometimes I just cook for myself if there is something I want to try that I think they won't like. And then there are other blogs (like 101 Cookbooks, Nordljus, Matt Bites, Delicious Days, La Tartine Gourmande, and Traveler's Lunchbox), food magazines (Gourmet Traveler, Australian Vogue Travel & Entertainment, Donna Hay, Sunset, Saveur, Gourmet_), and about a gazillion cookbooks. 
What type of food blog would you like to read that you haven't seen yet?
Does anyone have time to read any more blogs? I certainly don't! But I guess I'd love to see a blog that could really replicate the magazine graphic experience. There are some that are getting close, but it's still not quite there. I'm such a visual person that I get frustrated with the layout options of blogging.
What's the downside to food blogging?
The blog posts that everyone seems to love are the desserts. And I don't know about you, but I can't eat that much sweet without having to add hours on the spinner. And I am not a big fan of spinning. The other big downside is time. It takes a lot of time to keep up with it, particularly when you also try to keep up with a hundred other blogs. 

[%image promo-image float=left width=400 credit="Photo courtesy Lara Ferroni" caption="Sambar-spiced cauliflower with fennel bulb."]

How does living in Seattle affect your blog?
Every time I visit California, I am just in shock at the varieties and quantities of in-season produce. Seattle has great food and great produce, don't get me wrong. But our summer season is so much shorter. Even now, the farmers' markets are still pretty thin on choice. 
On the positive side, the emphasis on local, organic foods is pretty strong, so you don't have to look far to find whatever happens to be in season. The restaurant scene here is also great, without being overwhelming. Dining out at great places is easy too. I'm shocked when I go to other cities and realize there are people who book meals a month in advance. Seattle is so much more casual; you can usually get in anywhere with a few hours notice. 
What's a funny food-blog memory from the past year?
Well, this one time, I chopped off part of my finger . . . hmm. You might need a pretty twisted sense of humor to find that funny, but honestly it kind of was. 

There was also the four-foot-long zucchini that I brought back with me on the plane from my family's garden in Illinois. It was a ridiculously sized vegetable and I certainly got some strange looks going through security. 
Do you think that food videos will overtake food photography on blogs any time soon?
I don't think so. I think video is great for instructions while cooking, but most bloggers are in the kitchen by themselves, and it's not particularly easy to both demonstrate how to pour the batter for a crêpe into a pan and videotape it at the same time. And video for a finished dish is, well, kind of boring.

p(bio). Liz Crain is a writer in Portland, Oregon.

Lara, l

buttercupcakes, l

promo-image, l

reference-image, l