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Inside My Camera Bag | Jackie Alpers

Hi! My name is Jackie Alpers, and I am a Tucson, Arizona-based food photographer.

I cook style, and photograph food, drinks, and recipes in-studio and document restaurants and food on location.

I am especially interested in experimenting with regional culinary influences while exploring food history, culture, and people’s emotional, psychological, and spiritual relationship with food and drink.

Food lends itself to vast symbolism and interpretation, and I love the rituals surrounding it.

When I first started working as a fine art photographer over thirty years ago, I mostly relied on my two-and-a-quarter square-format Zenza Bronica, which I still have, but the shutter doesn’t work anymore.

These days, I am fully digital. I live in the Arizona desert, where it’s sunny more days than not, so I can usually shoot with natural available light.

When I do need to bring in lighting, it’s fixed. I don’t use strobes.

I currently shoot with a Canon EOS 5DS and prime lenses, including the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM and the Canon EF 50mm f/2.5.

I also use the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM on occasion.

I’ll probably upgrade to the mirrorless Canon EOS R5 soon, but the Canon EOS 5DS body has been holding up well over the years, so I’m not in a big hurry to switch it up.

I also have a pantry filled with spices and dry goods that are almost as important as my camera kit!

I write, style, and photograph my own cookbooks, including Taste of Tucson: Sonoran Style Recipes inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona and The Unofficial Yellowstone Cookbook.

The photographs I come up with directly influence the recipes I create, with both being symbiotic with the other and I often don’t know what the photograph will look like until after I have cooked and styled the food.

Since the pandemic, I’ve really switched up the way I work with commercial clients in that I often re-create restaurant dishes and food products in-studio rather than on-set while still retaining the chef and/or the creative team’s intent.

Art directors and photo editors rely on my personal vision while working collaboratively in a team setting.

My favorite thing about photographing food is that it just sits there being food. It doesn’t walk around, or try and start a conversation while I’m working, or have opinions about the way it’s being photographed!

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