While it might not be the gastronomical epicenter you think of first, the culinary scene in Milwaukee is widely recognized as one of the most underrated in the country. Thanks to an influx of new restaurants and bars, the city has experienced a revival, which means it’s a joy for Milwaukee food photographers. Here are our favorite artists who live and work in the true Paris of the Midwest.
Internationally known for her illustrative food photography, Grace Natoli Sheldon has been working in the field of culinary images for over 30 years. In that time, she’s been the go-to for cookbooks, magazine covers, and even a Hallmark Greeting card. One look at her composition and style shows immediately why. With a background in prop and set styling, Grace has a passion for food, which shines through in her bold, richly saturated colors and playful compositions.
A commercial and editorial photographer, Chris Kessler is a graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. His two creative loves — food and portraiture — both show the same attention to detail. Chris’s food photography is an education in textures and light, creating clear and mouthwatering results. Perhaps best of all, Chris’s ability to focus on food, while introducing motion to the photos, gives a rich indulgence to many of his shots. It also helps remind us that food is crafted by people — skilled, creative individuals who are making little delicious works of art every day.
3. Scott Lanza of Lanza Studio
Scott Lanza has been working as a food photographer since 1980, collaborating directly with clients, as well as with agencies. With his passion for cheese — and, of course, being a photographer in Wisconsin, it goes without saying — means that dairy shots are his personal favorites. The interplay of colors on creams and whites creates a sort of dreamy aftereffect, giving life to Scott’s photographs. Don’t you just feel those hunger pangs?
4. Erin Bloodgood of Bloodgood Foto
With experience working in New York advertising, Erin Bloodgood moved to Milwaukee in 2015. She quickly found herself falling in love with the city and the communities that build it. Her ethos is to build stories through photographs, and this take for her visual photography can be seen clearly in her food photographs. There is an elegance and refinement to her culinary images that highlights the natural beauty of the produce, as well as honors the ways in which the food was prepared. Her work is upscale and classy, the perfect pairing for high-end eateries and refined publications.
5. David of Jackson & Co.
Owner, director, and photographer David Jackson heads up Jackson & Co., an award-winning full-service photography studio. David’s photos boast a film-like, hyper-realistic effect that celebrates the colors found in food and the effort that goes into producing it. Jackson gets creative with the textures and compositions of food shots, which is a breath of fresh air — it’s not all small depth of field close-up shots of food on thick wooden cutting boards, which some people have made an entire career of. And we love those, so don’t get us wrong, but take the photo above, for example. Doesn’t the intense red of that lobster pop against the distressed metallic grey?
Over the past 10 years, Kate Berg has worked her way up among Milwaukee food photographers, from assistant to photographer and retoucher. Her experience has taught her how to find those moments of light and life, and to know the difference between a good shot and a great shot. Her photography is rich with light and detail, showcasing a brightness and crispness which heroes the dishes. She knows that simplicity is sometimes the most powerful thing — that the loveliness of fresh ingredients is gorgeous on its own when captured in a way that allows its natural beauty to take center stage.
A commercial and editorial food photographer in Milwaukee, David Szymanski (pronounced sha-mine-ski) has toured with bands, eaten food by some of the world’s greatest chefs, and been stuck in cabs with reality TV stars. David’s photography has a truly refined eye, highlighting the elegance and sophistication of all food — from fine dining to tacos. Given his background, his food photography reminds us of the lifestyle elements of eating well: the communal nature of sharing a good meal and drinks, as well as the unique and fascinating culture of the restaurant world.
8. Matt and Sarah of Haas & Haas Photography
Haas & Haas Photography — that is, Matt and Sarah Haas — are Milwaukee food photographers who are passionate about visual storytelling. With an eye for cool angles and unorthodox framing, Haas & Haas Photography presents food that looks as delicious as it is artistic. That love of the work is the reason you’ll find their work in the pages of such prestigious publications as Bon Appetit. We also love when food photographers incorporate the chefs and cooks who prepare the food to whatever degree they can. Showing the elements that come together to produce a perfect meal (e.g. the chef’s experienced hand seasoning from above, the fresh ingredients arrayed along the kitchen line, etc.) communicates the entire story of a dish to us.
These Milwaukee food photographers won’t let anyone forget just how solid a food town Cream City really is. After all, this city also has some of the best beer culture in the entire country, and nothing goes better with that than some truly epic food. If you’re looking for someone to communicate to the word just delicious your food is, check this group out.