Stephen Hamilton: My Food Porn Idol

“DIRECTOR, PHOTOGRAPHER, PUBLISHER”

Three very distinct titles for one very distinct man.  Stephen Hamilton photographs food like no other.  His images are appealing in ways that make a person hungry.  Not like “I could eat” hungry rather his images make me “I must absolutely have that now” hungry.

His work can be found everywhere.  You can find his images in cookbooks, on television, on food packaging, in food and photography blogs.  Seriously folks, he’s everywhere.  What drew me to him is how real his food looks.  It’s not fake McDonalds teaser ad garbage; it’s perfection.  The food looks high end and top dollar, but also achievable in your own home.

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Screenshot from Stephen Hamilton’s Home Page

The screenshot of his home page reveals just a taste of his gorgeous naturally lit food. The images aren’t all still like most pages.  Interwoven into the mix of tasty thumbnails there is a spattering of video food porn sure to be found drool-worthy by all.  There’s no harsh lighting or commercial test kitchen here.  These images look like they were shot in someone’s home with their warm comfortable hues.  The angles, the colors, the motion; all appeal to the mind with their classy yet comfortable vibe.

His project which I find most interesting is called “The Restaurant Project.” Summarily, Stephen dined at restaurants all over the United States.  At each meal he took a photo of his dish with his iPhone.  He then uses the photo to recreate a high quality version of the image in his studio. This tackles everything I struggle with as a food blogger personally.

All too often I find myself eating something in a restaurant that looks and tastes absolutely amazing.   Sadly, when I go to photograph this beauty I find the worst possible lighting to photograph in.  The angles, the ambiance; for some reason many restaurants just aren’t photogenic.

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Sample of The Restaurant Project from Fstoppers

Next I perused his Vimeo Channel.  I will be making Italian Meatball Soup now thanks to Stephen’s food porn videos.  His choice of lighting, music, font, even word placement… the man is a certified food genius.

So how did Stephen Hamilton come to be the amazing food photographer he is today? According to a 2013 interview with Taylor Mathis, “Originally I went to the Art Institute of Chicago thinking I wanted to be a fashion designer, but I quickly realized that I hated to sew.”  I can see that as a problem for sure.  I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher once, then I found out I don’t much like other people’s children.

He goes on, “I had always been interested in photography though, so I started doing some fashion photography—and realized I just didn’t have the personality for fashion.” Hey Stephen, me neither! I love to shoot outdoor projects for children however adults are so very very hard to anticipate for me.

“Finally, I found my niche in food photography, which I’ve been doing for over 15 years now. I shoot mostly commercial photography but you can also find my photos everywhere from national magazines, cookbooks and TV news programs, to Bravo’s Top Chef. I also publish a food and photography magazine, called Who’s Hungry? so all of the photography you’ll find in there is mine. “

I’m pretty sure this guy was meant to be my photography idol.  There is so much hope in his random beginnings.  It’s a relief to know that even successful people have no idea what they really want to to with their lives.

My favorite quote from Stephen,

“More than anything, I’ve learned that as a photographer, you have to constantly be pushing yourself to learn new things. No matter what field you work in, the more you do and the more you explore, the deeper you work is going to be. That’s a big part of what The Restaurant Project, Who’s Hungry? Magazine, and my blog are all about. They are great creative outlets. If I have a day off, I still like to be shooting.”

That’s powerful stuff right there.  When you’ve dug your deepest, dig a little farther.  It takes “do your best” to a whole different level.  A person can’t help but look up to someone like Stephen Hamilton.

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Screenshot from Stephen Hamilton’s Home Page

From the food porn master’s own LinkedIn, he says,” My work is renown for its natural lighting style and tight taste appeal, where my “real life” approach of capturing motion and images has garnered the attention of numerous agencies, international food companies and restaurants. I’ve also appeared as a guest Quickfire judge on Top Chef Masters and am a sought after authority on food photography.”

Read that again, “Sought after authority.”  That’s just impressive.  It is one thing to be an authority, it is another to know and recognize the status for what it is.  This man just oozes confidence and it is rather contagious.

 Works Cited

Hamilton, Stephen. “LinkedIn Profile: Stephen Hamilton.” LinkedIn. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

“Stephen Hamilton | Chicago Food Photographer.” Stephen Hamilton | Chicago Food   Photographer. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

http://www.facebook.com/Taylortakesataste. “An Interview with Stephen Hamilton | Fstoppers.” Fstoppers. N.p., 20 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

Hamilton, Stephen. “Stephen Hamilton.” Vimeo. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

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