Food Photographer William Swank :: In His Own Words

William Swank and his wife, photographer Lennette Newell,  went to a book signing at the Fraenkel Gallery many years ago for Richard Avedon’s Sixties book. Lennette asked him what his favorite image was. He replied “the one I took yesterday”. So in the spirit of Richard Avedon, here are William’s most recent and favorite images with a little insight about them in his own words. In discovering that a tie to the bounty of nature is never far from a camera’s hungry eyes.


Multicolor radishes (pink, red & purple)

Altpick Connects:  When did you start your ‘sustainable food’ series and why?

William Swank: Spring 2009, my goal was to start a series that would be contemporary and ongoing with a perpetual potential for new imagery and subject matter that I was genuinely passionate about.  I’ve always had a keen interest in cooking and believe fresh, seasonal and local ingredients are best.  Also, I grew up surrounded by farming and ranching on a dairy farm in Northern California.  I’m very connected to food production.


Picking radishes

WS: These images are part of my ongoing series on local, seasonal and sustainable food.  The magical quality in the light from the sun at a low angle continues to inspire me.  I do like to shoot the plated food on location using a mix of natural and strobe lighting to give it a sense of the place it was created.


Fresh picked Romanesco

AP: What else inspires you when you’re in the fields photographing the farmers and workers?

WS:  My brother farms on the land my mother grew up on and has been in the family for nearly a century.  I respect and admire farmers and farmworkers, their work is important.  The production of food is timeless and paying homage to it is inspirational.


Romanesco, detail

AP: As a food photographer, do you also cook and why?

WS: I cook regularly, sharing good food with family and friends is the ultimate gesture of caring.  Cooking your own food is also the healthiest way to eat.

Romanesco Salad1303_asparagus_harvesting_002

AP:  When on location where is your favorite spot to shoot?

WS:  If it’s overcast, plant and tree foliage are photogenic from all angles.  I prefer to photograph people backlit when the sun is low in the sky.
1303_asparagus_harvesting_001asparagus mimosa

AP:  If you could have two careers and one would be photography, what would the other one be?

WS: The other career would definitely be cheese making.

We think his camera would fall for the craft of cheese making. To see more of William Swank’s photography go to his website and Altpick page.

This entry was posted in Altpick, Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Food Photographer William Swank :: In His Own Words

  1. My French Heaven says:

    What an inspiring post!


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