Highly regarded Australian photographer and educator Rachel Korinek follows her creative passions for crafting delectable food imagery from her home base in Vancouver.
The former accountant and teacher was inspired by her photographer husband to follow her own creative calling and recently celebrated 10 years in the industry working as a food photographer.
Rachel’s past experience has culminated in the crafting of her own successful photography business and impressive array of educational resources for those wanting to follow in her footsteps.
An aspirational figure to photographers at all stages of their creative journeys, Rachel teaches practical skills and techniques that inspire her followers to lead a more creative life.
We had the pleasure of chatting to Rachel about her creative process, how she continues to evolve her own skill set, her go-to studio equipment and fave dance moves! Read on to find out how she creates her signature bright, clean and uplifting imagery and see behind the scenes in her studio.
Welcome Rachel! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hey I’m Rachel! I grew up in New South Wales, Australia but currently live in Vancouver, Canada. Let me tell you three fun facts about myself.
How did your journey to becoming a food and product photographer begin?
I am an accountant turned teacher turned food photographer. I found food photography after finding a book in a little book store in Tasmania, Australia when I was travelling with my (now) husband while I studied to be a teacher. After starting three blogs and taking photos almost every day for two years, I decided to try my hand at getting paid to take photos.
It was a very bumpy ride and I experienced 4 years of setbacks before I felt like I found my feet as a food photographer. My skills as an accountant have helped me run a business, and I’m also very lucky to have come full circle and am able to teach photography.
What equipment do you currently use for your food photography?
Here is a list of my most used equipment:
What lenses would you recommend?
I find the 85mm 1.8 the most fun of all the lens. Although the minimum focusing distance does see me raising an eyebrow every now and again. I love how it's the perfect focal length to capture food portraiture, and although I don't tend to shoot wide open, I do love shooting a shallow depth of field (like f/2 every now and again).
My most used lens is the 105mm 2.8 macro. I use this lens on every shoot. Shooting a lot of drinks and cocktails, the 105mm macro is beautiful at capturing 45-degree angles. I even use it for my overhead shots to really compress the shot, as I love to shoot just the necessary subjects. It helps me to reduce distortion the closer I am to my subject, which I think gives a sense of quality to the photo.
I love the 60mm 2.8 macro lens the most. This lens has my heart. It was the first lens that I purchased with my own money at the start of the journey. What I love the most about the Nikkor 60mm macro is the way it captures light. I use it almost always before the 50mm.
Can you tell us more about your lighting setup?
At this stage of my photography journey, I love to use artificial light. Preferable strobe because I love the quality of the light and being able to fully control and craft light to any style I have in mind to tell my food story.
Artificial lighting using a Strobe light and modifiers help Rachel control and manage reflections in her beverage photography resulting in a beautiful, professional finish. Source: @twolovesstudio
Rachel recently ran a free artificial lighting class to show how she recreates natural light for food photography and can achieve these completely different moods using the same simple artificial lighting setup in a small space. Watch her class here and be inspired to try it for yourself. Source: @twolovesstudio
Do you have any advice to share with other aspiring photographers?
The road to getting paid to take photos and making a living out of it isn’t easy. I don’t say this to scare photographers, in fact, I’ve always shied away from saying that because I didn’t want to deter anyone. But hard things are worth doing. If you feel like things are tough or not working out for you, it’s because that’s how this journey is when you start out.
Don’t compare your journey to anyone else's on social media because it doesn’t often show the real picture. Run your own race. Find ways to enjoy the journey. Failures lead to success.
One last thing, there is a client for everyone at every stage of your journey.
How do you keep learning and evolving your skills?
Learning photography is not really a destination. There is always something new to learn which is exciting as it means we can continue to grow and evolve. That old saying ‘fashion is never finished’ applies to photography. We evolve as artists, so do our skills, style and creative intent. I think there is always a new skill to learn and master. Another way of thinking and creating.
GREAT photography is learnable. All these skills are possible. When I started in 2012 I had ZERO photography skills, I had no idea how to use a camera, style, cook for camera or edit. There weren’t many resources on how to take better photos of food—which is one of the reasons I started the blog.
I try to tackle one skill at a time until I feel like I have mastered it. Then I move onto the next one. There are so many ways to learn, from taking an online course to an in-person workshop. But there are always blog tutorials, YouTube videos and creatives sharing their process on Instagram.
Make a plan to immerse yourself in learning a new skill and devour all of the resources to help you get a well-rounded understanding of a subject and how you’d like to approach it.
What are your three favourite props to use?
I love to use pinch bowls and vintage cutlery whenever I can. My favourite type of prop is vintage glassware. I really enjoy hunting for it and creating stories with them. My mum used to buy vintage glassware from thrift shops when I was a kid so it has this nostalgic meaning for me.
At the moment, I am on the hunt for lots of metal props. Dull and matte metal. Like trays,stands and platters. I think they are so versatile and I am excited to start using them more.
Lastly, we would love to know - what's next for you?
For the first time ever, I don’t know at this moment. I have always had ideas of where I wanted to go and goals on how to get there. But what do you do when you get there? Do you make new ones? Or do you take a moment and enjoy the view?
Our society has such a hustle culture where there doesn’t seem to be an option to just stay put for a moment and enjoy. I feel uncomfortable doing this, but it feels like the right thing to do. Like when you climb a mountain.
Find out more about Rachel on her website where you will also find a feast of food photography resources including courses and ebooks that can easily be applied to product photography and content creation alike.
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