When ICE President Rick Smilow and Anne E. McBride wrote Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food they discovered a plethora of food jobs they had never heard of before. Since the book’s release, they have been discovering even more interesting culinary career paths. DICED shares some of them with you in a reoccurring feature: “Unique Culinary Careers.”

James Ransom is a food photographer. His work can be seen every week at FOOD52, where he snaps a variety of recipes from their start as raw ingredients all the way through to final presentation. As anyone who has dabbled in food photography knows, it’s not as easy as it looks. Crafting that perfect shot requires a mix of careful styling skills, knowledge about lighting, and much more. Just thinking about it leaves us in awe of Ransom and the quality of his work. We talked with him about his career path and his advice for would-be photographers.

How would you describe your job?
My job is to create an image that makes you want to eat the food I’m photographing. Sometimes that’s harder than it sounds.

How did you get this job? What has your career path been like?
I studied photography in high school and college and received a BFA in Photography from Brigham Young University. As soon as I graduated, I packed up my car and drove out to New York. I started out as an in-house photographer at an e-commerce site called UncommonGoods where I photographed products for their website and print catalog. After a few years I decided to set out on my own to freelance. I picked up small clients here and there and put in a good number of years as a photographer’s assistant. About three years ago, I started shooting food and really fell in love with it. Through a series of fortunate events I was introduced to the folks at FOOD52, where I shoot the bulk of my food assignments at the moment. More…

Last week, famed food stylist Delores Custer gave a two-day workshop on food styling, the art of the preparing and presenting food for film at ICE. The class was part of ICE’s Center for Food Media. Custer has been working as a food stylist for over 30 years and her work has appeared in magazines, print advertising, television and movies. Her book, Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera was released in May 2010.

In the class, students learned how to plan, purchase, prepare, and present food for the camera, with an eye for color, composition and attractive food presentations. For example, the class learned how to present delicate dollops of whipped cream and perfect scoops of ice cream. Beyond the how-to of food styling, Custer also taught students about the business of being a food stylist, covering topics such as legal and ethical restrictions when presenting food for photography, step-by-step procedures of a food styling assignment, and how to work with a client, art director, and photographer on a photo shoot.

Check out the photos to see more of the students work in Custer’s class. More…

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