Eric Wolfinger – How to Be a World-Class Traveling Food Photographer

Eric’s Wild Idea: To travel around the world, cook with different cultures, and then inspire others through photography.

Eric Wolfinger has been called the Annie Leibovitz of food photography. He’s published over a dozen award-winning books, and done even more photo and film commissions with amazing chefs from around the world.

While he wasn’t always a photographer, after college Eric, who was also a longtime surfer, wanted to find a way to combine his passions for traveling and cooking. The unexpected answer was photography. While working as an apprentice at the famous Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, Eric traded surf lessons with owner Chad Robertson for bread baking tips, and soon after was commissioned to take the photos for the Tartine Bread cookbook. It was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2011 for Best Cookbook Photography, and since then, he’s become a sought after food photographer.

I’ve known Eric for a long time – we went to high school together and grew up surfing. He’s gone on to do some pretty wild things. In fact, today Smug Mug released an amazing film about Eric.

On this show, Eric and I talk about how the film got made, how he ended up shooting the Tartine Bread book, and how you can not only get that killer food shot for your own Instagram, but make a living doing what you love.

Listen to this Episode if:

  • You love snapping pictures of your food.
  • You want to travel the world.
  • You can always be found in the kitchen.
  • You devour cookbooks.
  • You want to make a living doing what you love.
  • You’re curious what to cook for dinner tonight.

Key Takeaways

  • 3:00 – Combining food, travel, and photography.
  • 5:05 – How Eric got into photography.
  • 7:55 – Eric was inspired by his mother to start cooking.
  • 9:35 – How Eric’s culinary education happened.
  • 11:40 – Eric’s wild idea in Peru to do the Machu Picchu trail a different way.
  • 14:50 – Eric started working at Tartine, a famous bakery in San Francisco.
  • 17:30 – How Eric combined surfing and baking.
  • 21:00 – What made his photos for Tartine so different.
  • 24:00 – The photos are more about the person behind the food than the food itself.
  • 26:40 – What is Dandelion.
  • 30:50 – The impact of the Tartine cookbook.
  • 32:00 – Getting chefs to open up about their food.
  • 35:30 – How to take good food photos with your iPhone.
  • 38:50 – What he always brings on his travels.
  • 40:40 – How sharing a meal leads to empathy.
  • 41:50 – How to host a dinner party.
  • 45:50 – How to make a living with your passion.
  • 47:00 – Find a mentor.
  • 49:30 – Eric loves now knowing what’s next for him.
  • 53:00 – How the Smug Mug movie came about.

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