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.

About altpick connects

Established in 1992, The Alternative Pick commenced with a clear mission, providing creative buyers with a vehicle to source the best brightest and most exciting illustrators, photographers, graphic designers and animators in the business. The Alternative Pick sourcebook (1992-2005) became the outlet for cutting-edge commercial talent, offering a unique platform for artists to showcase their work. The Alternative Pick Deck (2009-2012) offered a fun and engaging format for locating leading commercial artists. In addition, The Altpick Awards (2003-2011) introduced yet another way to provide a platform for talents to shine. To meet the demands of an ever-changing industry, was launched in 1996 and presently provides a vehicle for talent to utilize the web to connect more effectively with buyers. As we mark our 30th anniversary in 2021, remains a premier source for creative professionals and we plan to continue to push the envelope providing the best vehicle for buyers to connect with creative talent.
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1 Response to Food Photographer William Swank :: In His Own Words

  1. My French Heaven says:

    What an inspiring post!


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