I love food. I owe everything I know about food to my friend, Patricia Bauer-Slate. Patricia owned the best bakery in all of Texas for 32 years, introduced the real croissant to Austin and created a number of restaurants that people still talk about a decade after she exited the restaurant business.
I'd been going to her bakery, Sweetish Hill Bakery, for years to get bear claws and petit pain au chocolate and killer coffee before I actually met her and became a Bauer-Slate fine food disciple.
The change from customer to friend came from one of my earliest magazine assignments. I was assigned by one of the city magazines to go to her new restaurant, La Provence, and make photographs of the beautiful dining room, the chef and the front of house manager. I was working exclusively with 4x5 inch transparency film at the time and did my lighting with several Novatron power packs and flash heads firing into big white umbrellas.
I made (through sheer dumb luck) some of the best interior images I've ever been able to make and some very passable portraits. Patricia was so pleased that she asked to buy some of the images and, to sweeten the deal, she also invited me and my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) to come by and have a dinner ( we could never have afforded at the time) as her guests. Belinda still remembers the angel hair pasta with truffles and caviar as one of the best dishes she's ever had while I remember the entrecôte mirabeau (a perfect steak criss-crossed with anchovies) as the best steak I've ever eaten (sorry Morton's and Sullivan's). We shared a bottle of wine that had a little booklet tied around the neck which explained the provenance of the wine. We still have that booklet now 34 years later.
We spent years eating Patricia's cooking, devouring her bakery's chocolate cakes and whole wheat bread. She taught me how to perfectly poach an egg and to make a Hollandaise sauce that wouldn't separate. I've photographed hundreds of products and dishes in return.
I love photographing food almost as much as I love eating it. But the important thing in my education as a food photographer has been a thirty five year education in what makes good food good---taught to me by a master. The photography part is easy if you know why you are making a photograph.