TDS 53 Style Your Life, Food Photographer Jena Carlin

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This is an interview about how to make your food look good—and I mean REALLY good—in photographs. In this episode of The Delicious Story, we talk with accomplished food photographer Jena Carlin about the art and process of producing beautiful images of food and home. But her story serves up inspiration, too reminding each of us that we are the creative of our lives as well.
Jena’s photos capture food such that you don’t even have to eat it to realize how delicious it really is. And a quick look at Jena Carlin Creative will open your eyes to the sumptuous quality of her work. You can almost reach out and pick up that carrot and the acorn squash blasting forth from a picture with vibrant color. In an instant, you imagine yourself crunching into the carrot and tasting the savory sweetness of the squash diced into cubes and ladled out for service.
In another image, there is a Thanksgiving spread that begs you to walk into the picture—a table so exquisite you can sink into the moment. The bird is golden, and the sides of Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and stuffing are just a bite away. The signature of Jena’s work is that her photos are all stunning, and almost always pull you in with story.
THE RECIPE OF A GOOD IMAGE
I talked with Jena about that “feeling” of a story in her images and asked her to explain her process and how she achieves this in each piece. Jena walks us through the steps and shares several influences that lend her to success with this, all of which you can hear during the interview.
And for those of you who thrill over home goods, you’ll feel a strong bond with Jena, because often it is the unsuspecting item that she wants to incorporate in an image (such as a tureen or tablecloth) that acts as the impetus for the food she features.
I never get enough of a touching story, and the heartfelt memorable meal story of Jena’s is particularly sweet. If you love family moments, the generosity of love and good food, then you may tear up a bit with her memory.
THE ARTIST OF YOUR LIFE
As our tagline says, The Delicious Story is a space where we chat with interesting people who share memorable meals. In between we hope to encourage you to reach for the luscious bits of your life, too.
Jena’s certainly qualifies as interesting and her passion for creativity is motivating. She walks us through her focus during college, and then on to an internship opportunity that helped her flourish and learn the kind of work she wanted to do.
Jena’s experience might be the spark that invites you to express your creativity, too. And this podcast is particular timely in that Jena is hosting an online summit titled: Mastering the Art of Photographing Food. The event runs in early July, and you can learn more about that event here.
Jena also produces dazzling work and content for her lifestyle blog called Little Rusty Ladle which is often how people find her. You’ll discover recipes, ideas of crafts for children, and photography tips, and even learn about the life she and her family live in rural Wisconsin.
Jena explains she is drawn to texture and light in the compositions she creates. There is a metaphor in her artistic process. We are each the artist of a life, pulling in the bits of texture and light to manifest our story as it unfolds. Unlike the captured moment of a photograph, we each have the opportunity to restyle and rethink for moments beyond the blink of an instant.

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