Cayla Zahoran Food Photographer

© Cayla Zahoran Photography

How to become a New York Food Photographer

How to Become a New York Food Photographer

How to become a New York Food Photographer: 

How to become a New York food photographer? The question.
The Answer? Cry. A lot. 
Alright, maybe there is more to it. And maybe everyone’s experience is different. But this isn’t “everyone’s” blog.
What you will need: 
-Ice-cream (or wine)
-A whole lot of determination.
-Thick skin
  About 4 weeks ago, I went from being a staff photographer for a local Pittsburgh magazine to an evening server at an NYC Irish pub. I spent 3 years in Pittsburgh working for a local magazine, building not only a portfolio but also, relationships and a client base. Everything was lined up perfectly for my business. But at the age of 22, I wasn’t ready for a settled business. I needed more. So I chose to leave. Move away to the Big Apple. Go big or go home is the saying, correct? 
  Everyone told me it would be hard. I knew it would be hard. Then I got here and realized it was more than hard. It’s heartbreaking; self-esteem lowering and bank draining. You spend the first few weeks drowning your sorrows in gallons of ice-cream.  But then the ice-cream is gone, you run out of leftover food in your fridge to binge eat and your head is spinning with an overload of information: names, emails, and subway lines. What now? Give up and go home? Too easy. 
Step 1: Cry.   –  Check
Step 2: Do everything you have tried, again. And again. Oh, and once or twice more. What is it that you tried doing? ——->Networking.
 Everyone talks about. Everyone does it. You have to do it if you ever want to work again in your life. But it sucks. I mean the soul crushing suck. And impossible. New Yorkers (no offense) are very territorial. 
WARNING: Sitting by your computer for 24 hours straight staring at your email DOES NOT speed the process in which someone may or may not return your email. And they most likely won’t. 
Step 3: Step away from staring at incoming emails and getting distracted by the Amazon Daily Deal and GET OUT THERE. 
  So I did. I left my cozy apartment in Queens and traveled into Manhattan. This month has officially been the month of first’s for me.
  1. Moved to NYC.
  2.  Drove through Manhattan on Superbowl weekend with a Uhaul. Yes, I am impressed with myself too.
  3. Learning the subway system on my own with a rolling Pelican case and light stands strapped to my back. I wish someone was around to photograph that one.
  4. Photographing the menu for a New York restaurant.
  5. Having to photograph food straight from the oven, in front of my camera for 2 seconds, and then right to the customers’ table.  When they say New York doesn’t stop, they mean it. No time to fidget with lights.
Okay, so maybe I am not the one to be giving advice for how to become a NYC food photographer. I mean, I am new to the neighborhood. And since writing doesn’t fall under even my basic competency list, I’ll show off some photos now and stop embarrassing myself. 
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Food photography of BLT
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New York Food Photography | Triple Crown Ale House
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New York Food Photography | Triple Crown Ale House
Client: Triple Crown Ale House
Camera: Nikon d600
Lens: 105 mm f2.8 micro
ISO 800, 1/160h second, f3 
Lighting Equipment: Nikon Speedlights, white foam core, 40″ Reflective Umbrella Softbox



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