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