As I'm writing the opening to this week's Conversing Cameras, I have a cookbook with some of the most incredible food photography sitting in front of me. Hundreds of photos from Jim's most recent publication covering Authentic Mexican food comprise this recent publication. To be honest, as much as I love cookbooks and making tacos, this cookbook is more about photography and storytelling than it is about tacos. I highly encourage you to pick this up over on Amazon; you simply can't go wrong with tacos and photography! I've known Jim and appreciated his work for some time now. A few years ago, I had the privilege of assisting him at Dominique Crenn's three-star Michelin restaurant in San Francisco. There are food photographers, and then there is Jim. Jim's passion and understanding of the culinary arts come through in his photography. Jim takes "Foodie" shots to an entirely new level, and I'm excited to share a little bit more about him and his passion here. So without further ado...
Q: Your Camera Bag: What kind of gear can be found in your Camera bag today?
A: Leica SL2, Q2, M6, M10 Monochrome, Mamiya 7ii
Q: Tell us about yourself: Who are you, what is your background?
A: My name is Jim Sullivan and I am a professional food photographer based in San Diego. I am a self taught photographer. I graduated from culinary school in 2007. I cooked for a few years and found myself interested in food photography. I went out and got an old Canon AE and a few rolls of Tri-X film. I then dove head first into learning the art of photography. It wasn’t for a few years until I got a digital camera and started the learn the nuances of food photography. Fast forward to 2022 and I have had the pleasure of working w some of the worlds best chefs, publications and last year I photographed 2 cookbooks.
Q: The Begining: What first sparked your interest in photography and Cameras?
A: I’ve always had a love for analog photography since childhood. As cliche as it sounds, the look one gets from a film image is nostalgic and somewhat romantic. I can remember seeing Polaroids as a child that my family would take and always thinking it was sort of alchemy.
Q: Tell us about your work. What kind of photography do you do and enjoy?
A: My work has a strong focus in the culinary field. From composed dishes to action shots during service and portraiture. I also enjoy doing personal work which involves the surf culture here in San Diego. This ongoing project is mainly done w my Mamiya 7ii using Ektachrome film.
Q: What's the most fascinating thing to you about photography?
A: It’s always a challenge and I continue to learn everyday.
Q: Do you like to shoot film or digital?
A: Well I do both but I do prefer film. There’s always something magical about using film.
Q: Who is your favorite photographer?
A: That’s a tough one. A few of my all time favorites are William Eggelston, Alex Webb, Danny Clinch. Recently I’ve been enjoying the work of Fan Ho.
Q: Do you have any favorite quotes about photography?
A: Well it’s definitely NOT “the decisive moment”. So tired of photographers throwing that term around.
Q: Who are some of your favorite Instagram photographers?
A: I’m very leery to hold Instagram in any kind of regard. There are some photographers I follow in there just because I like seeing their work but I usually do a deep dive into their work if I want more.
Q: What’s your favorite camera? Why?
A: Probably my Mamiya 7ii. If there was one camera I had to choose it probably would be that one.Although just recently I’ve acquired an M10 Monochrome and am in awe of those files. Something painterly and old school to them. Can’t wait to make some prints from that one.
Q: You’re heading on an adventure for a week and can only take one camera & one lens. What is it? Tell us about your most minimal setup.
A: I think that one would be my Q2. I’ve used it on assignment a few times and that little camera is a beast! Versatile and the images off that thing are fantastic.
Q: What next: If you could add anything to your camera bag what would it be?
A: Alison Mosshart’s phone number. I’ve always wanted to photograph her!