La Dolce Vita
Intern Roxanne and Senior Editor Sara Deseran living la vida loca.
I’ve worked at 7x7 since it’s inception in 2001 and on top of writing and editing, I’ve always had the job of food styling, too. Unlike the days in New York, when I assisted a food stylist on photo shoots for magazines like Food & Wine and Martha Stewart (although I only worked with Martha a tiny bit, I have great stories, but you’ll have to find me at a party—after I’ve had a martini—to hear them) there’s no town car to pick me up and sometimes we work out of a photographer’s house instead of a sweeping Manhattan studio.
If you pay attention to food magazines, you’ll notice that they all have their own style when it comes to food presentation. Donna Hay, the Australian Martha, has a look that tends towards cool lighting (versus warm), sparse white backdrops and plateware. It’s a look that’s emulated by many and one I find it lovely to look at, but also on the side of hospital chic. Gourmet has become obsessed with bird’s-eye shots of tables of food that have been so artfully messed up (meaning an art director spent some serious time thinking about the mess)—a crumb here, a spill there. It’s starting to border on a parody of itself. And The New York Times Magazine, especially when they do their T magazine food issue, always seems to have a dead pheasant make an appearance somewhere.
I’m of the school that believes more is less, so I usually try to let the food speak for itself, as I think it does perfectly in our September issue’s photo of a slice of buffalo mozzarella, a leaf of basil and a wedge of heirloom tomato. After dousing it with olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt, I’ll admit that I dribbled a little extra tomato juice on the plate for full, juicy effect (genius, I know).
Despite the fact that my Subaru, and not a town car, was waiting for me outside of photographer Jennifer Martiné’s lower Haight Victorian flat, where the shoot took place, there can be a glamorous side to food styling—getting to eat what you’ve just shot. Which in this case was a great caprese salad that I served up with some white wine that we’d just shot for our upcoming October wine issue. I’m not saying I don’t spend plenty of time sweating bullets at my desk, but that late morning, after wrapping the shoot, Roxanne, Jennifer and I got to have a moment of la dolce vita before 11 am on a work day. There were no complaints.