The Derby City is known for quite a lot — Muhammad Ali, KFC, and horse racing are just a few of the charms that spring to mind when we think “Louisville.” But did you know that along with fantastic Southern cuisine and hospitality, you can also count on some of the finest photographers in the nation to document it all? That’s right! The Gateway to the South is also known for incredible creatives capable of showcasing the tastiest eats in the state. Get to know the top Louisville food photographers of 2020!
Operating out a 3000-sq.ft. studio with a commercial kitchen and prop room, Louisville food photographer Dean Lavenson captured our attention with his zesty culinary arrangements. He lists dozens of national and international brands as satisfied clients of his, including Texas Roadhouse, Jim Beam, and Papa John’s — just to name a few.
Full of the sensory and emotional notes that speak to our hunger, his culinary images are largely intended for commercial advertising. We also love Dean’s preference for a subdued lighting environment that alternates between an indoor restaurant and dark background product photography vibe. With how close he often gets to his subjects, it appears textures and hints of moisture from lighting play an especially strong role in his photography.
“The next best thing to eating food, is photographing it,” according to food photographer Chamell Burton-Hart, who perfectly captures our feelings on the topic as well! After all, good cuisine is art in of itself, and participating in its documentation and presentation is incredibly fun — just check out Chamell’s portfolio to see for yourself. A graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie program, Chamell boasts experience as an artist who prepares and cooks food, in addition to styling and photographing it.
She regularly partners with local bars and restaurants, striving to find arrangements and dishes that best represent their brand to the public. And as a Getty iStock and Adobe Stock Contributor, it’s clear that Chamell is recognized as one of the best shutterbugs in the nation for well-lit, mindfully composed, high-quality food and beverage images.
In addition to capturing shots of good eats and drinks, Mickie Winters is a shutterbug of many genres, including commercial, music, portrait, wedding, and family photography. She has an especially consistent style across these genres — her food, family, and wedding work all use a similar color profile with contrasting bright white highlights and a matte profile that imparts a contemporary flavor.
Occasionally, she also brings in a moody, shadow-infused style that brings out punchy colors and fine details in dishes and ingredients. Coupled with her eye for complementary backgrounds and compositions that emphasize shapes and colors, Mickie is an ideal photographer for clients looking for food art over mere documentation. Ever the Renaissance woman, she also teaches photography workshops at several locations, including the University of Louisville and Union College.
4. Jolea Brown of Creative Photography
Having graduated from the University of Louisville with a double major in photography and communications, Jolea Brown brings both an innate creative vision and a strong background in formal study to her projects. Commercial, editorial, advertising, events, and portraits are where she focuses her efforts. And as a food photographer, Jolea collaborates with clients in order to create images that represent their brand in all its uniqueness.
Her work has appeared in renowned publications, such as Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Accents, and TOPS Louisville Magazine. Jolea’s food images show us not only the highlights of a dish but inviting aspects of each venue. Blurred-out elements of the establishment show us what sort of quality fine dining we can expect without taking away from the delicious presentation in front of us.
5. Jessie of Kriech-Higdon Photography
Jessie Kriech-Higdon has been creating images with impact for Louisville clients since 2004. With nearly two decades of experience, Jessie has formulated a holistic approach to the food genre that covers nearly any sort of collaboration local brands and businesses could want.
One particular aspect of Jessie’s work we love is that she often takes a documentary approach to her food photography. While representing the final dish is something she does exceedingly well, Jessie also tells the story of how a dish gets from kitchen to table. She steps into the back and shows the chefs kneading dough, working the grill, and arranging ingredients in such a way that delights viewers.
6. Aaron Borton
Aaron Borton is a freelance Louisville food photographer with a meticulous eye for especially artistic images. Rather than simply documenting a dish or ingredient, he goes far beyond, creating portraits with subjects that dance from documentary to still-life to fine art in styling.
His still-life food images in particular embrace shadows to let bare light portray form, texture, and hints of color in exciting ways we rarely see among professional food and commercial photographers. If you want your images graced with a refreshing artistic sensibility, Aaron should be one of the first photographers you call.