The Sacredness of Food.


I am one of those weird people who finds cooking therapeutic and relaxing. When I tell this to people, they often stare through me, as though I am speaking another language of sorts. Sometimes people mumble back to me, “how do you have time for all that?” or “I just can’t be bothered…too much work!”

I get it. I really do…there are many days that I feel like take out is the best option. But there is something so mystical that I get lost in during the cooking process. Somewhere in the rhythm of chopping, mincing, and mixing, I get a little lost from the thoughts that plague the reality of my life. I get lost in the sacred ritual of it all.

For me, cooking is very definitive. It has a beginning, a middle and an end that usually happen in hours - as opposed to the days or weeks some projects can take. Whether you are baking a chicken or making a cake, the results are instantaneous and tangible. While I can make a cake in an afternoon, it could take days - even weeks and yes, sometimes months - for me to plan, shoot, edit, and deliver photos to a client.

Mostly though, it’s the end result. Feeding someone is giving them a gift you made yourself. When I cook, there is a sacredness to making the meal…I think about what people love, what they need…what they crave. I put energy into sourcing ingredients - where can I get the most delicious produce? Who has the best meats? Who has the “right” food for the meal at hand? The mere process of combining flavors, textures, and smells together makes it feel like art - like a painting coming together in all it’s vibrancy. It’s carefully crafted and created just for them.

So next time you sit down to a meal that someone has made, give pause and think of what went into making it. Or, when you endeavor to make your next meal for someone, think of the gift in the creation of it all. There is a sacredness in the food itself. There is a sacredness in the presentation and the process.

And then, after you think about all of that, dive in with love.

As I see it

tomato soup

Recently, I spent some time shooting behind the scenes with the Chef Ken from  NAPA  in Mt. Pleasant. I followed him around like a lost puppy, watching him craft dishes and cook delicious, made from scratch foods right before my very eyes. I lurked near him in the kitchen, dodging busy sous chefs and prep cooks. I listened and asked questions while still trying to be a silent observer.

To be honest, this is sort of what I love - what happens behind the scenes. What does life look like when you peek behind the velvet curtains we veil everything with. Is it authentic? Is it beautiful? Is it messy and gritty? I love all capturing the reality of what is happening - whether it's a chef dishing up his daily orders, a nurse doing infusions on a cancer ward, or a mom with her baby at the park. It's what I come back to as a photographer time and time again - authenticity. It's what challenges me and excites me at the same time. Getting a shot that isn't staged or styled is harder than it looks.

I approach all my shoots the same way I approach life now - with wide eyed curiosity and a deep desire to show life as it is and how I see it.


A Fresh Future

Fresh Future Farm event for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, 2017

Fresh Future Farm event for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, 2017

This past weekend, I got to attend 6 (or's all a haze now) events for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. One of my dream events was shooting at Fresh Future Farm – an urban farm created as a response to addressing food, health, economic, and environmental disparities. Fresh Future Farm is in the middle of what's known as a food desert in North Charleston - an area where grocery stores have pulled out of the area because these are unprofitable neighborhoods. And as you may well know, grocery stores equate to big business.

So there I was, shooting a farm to table dinner in the middle of a food desert on the cutest little farm I ever did see, with some of the top chefs in the country cooking over open flame and plating up one of the most spectacular meals I witnessed in all the events I attended... maybe even in my whole life. All of it was Inspired food from the region – some of it grown right here in Charleston.

As I stepped away from the event goers and party planners into the field of collards and cabbages, I took a moment to appreciate where I was and what this meant.... For me. For the community. It was all a little overwhelming to be honest. Not only am I doing PRECISELY what I loved (HELLLOOOOOO.... farm, food, & people are my intersectional bliss), but I was getting to witness it being done for a cause that mattered. I saw community coming together and chefs making magic.  Suddenly, my heart felt fuller than the bellies of those lucky little diners.

I am lucky to do what I do every day. It's not easy. It doesn't come with all these romantic notions of love and grandeur and cups that runneth over. Don't be deceived. This work is hard. It's relentless hustling and constant let down. It's time away on the weekends and tired muscles from walking with too much gear. But it's what fills my soul. Especially when it intersects with moments like this.

I am forever grateful for this job, this life, and this continuously unrelenting call that hasn't left me since I first picked up a camera at the age of 12. I love what I do. But today, I feel inspired and incredibly lucky to just be here...basking in the aftermath of it all.

Thanks CHSWFF2017. I can't wait to see what you cook up for next year!


A Few Things

Plate South

Plate South

It's been hard to keep up with what I am working on these days. My job takes me from babies to brunches to beautiful women and everything in between.  I am months behind on blog posts and image posts and all the things I want to tell everyone about each amazing day I had - every one seemingly better than the one before it. Here is a short view of some of my latest shoots. I love every delicious bit of my work and I am always grateful I get to carry a camera around with me and take photos of the BEST things in the world!

New Happenings

La Gloria

So....things have little topsy turvy this summer to say the least. That's not to say they are bad...just a little more messy than I am used to.

You see, this summer I decided to embark on a passion project I have been working up in my head for some time now. I decided to take some things I am very passionate about and combine them into one place where my skill set could grow and flourish. Sometimes as creatives, we don't get the projects that showcase our best work, so instead of waiting for the opportunity, I decided to make the opportunity. And so, Plate South was born. 

Plate South is a blog that I have created for my very own selfish purposes. I have always been a huge fan of photographing people and their stories as well as lifestyle around those stories. And I love food - I mean, really...who doesn't? I really love food photography as well. So I created a blog designed to highlight all the talents I have as a photographer, a writer, a designer and a foodie.

Plate South is about the culture of food in the South. It's about eating. It's about dining out. It's about the makers and the purveyors. It's about the markets and the recipes. It's about everything that makes up the growing, evolving, changing food scene we are now experiencing as a culture. 

This is Eddie.  You should read about him on the blog . He was an amazing character to interview!

This is Eddie. You should read about him on the blog. He was an amazing character to interview!

This blog is for me. But it's also for you. If you are passionate about food or southern food or food photography, this is something to follow.

I am still for hire. I REPEAT...I AM STILL FOR HIRE! This is just something I am doing as a side project for myself to showcase to you some of the talents I have as a photographer. So enjoy the blog and read along. You are sure to find some little nugget of what you like along the way.

Let me know what you think and what I can do to make it better! If you have an idea, feel free to call me and let me know! I'd love your feedback!

Much love! And thanks for all the support, friends!


Cooking up a plan

From my shoot with  Charleston Shop Curator  out at Wild Dunes recently. More to come!

From my shoot with Charleston Shop Curator out at Wild Dunes recently. More to come!

I have been spending time this summer cooking up a new project I have become pretty passionate about. I didn't realize when I started mulling it over in the beginning of this process that it would actually come to pass. Ideas around here can be like throwing pots of spaghetti at the wall - you just have to see what sticks. And when it does, you know it's ready.

I am enjoying the extra push it's taking to get a project going. It's made me realize a lot about passion and how the things you are really just obsessed with eventually bubble up to make themselves known. You can't deny passions. They consume you and push you to do more.

And that is a good thing.


Chicken Soup

Chicken noodle soup.

Chicken noodle soup.

A few weeks ago after a downright summery few days, the temperature here bottomed out and dropped a good 25 degrees. While I welcome the cooler weather (we have enough heat here in Charleston), that dip in temperature felt downright comfort food is coming my way.

To me, there is no other way to combat the cooler temps than with some much needed homemade chicken noodle soup with a loaf of something crusty alongside. I was lazy and didn't want to run to the store, I decided to whip it up with what I had on hand - which turned out in my favor. If you ever make noodle soup from dried noodles again, kick yourself. Refrigerated noodles are the way to go and because my child is a super spoiled foodie and WILL ONLY EAT THESE EXPENSIVE NOODLES, I keep them stocked in my freezer.

It's the most simple food and since there is still a touch of chill in the air, I will probably be making this again this week because we ATE IT ALL IN ONE SITTING. It was that good. 

I don't have a recipe because I am HORRIBLE at measuring and recording it. But here is a link to something similar.

The Tastemakers

Amalia Scatena | Executive Chef at  Cannon Green

Amalia Scatena | Executive Chef at Cannon Green

Chef BJ Dennis  | Personal Chef and Culinary Artist

Chef BJ Dennis | Personal Chef and Culinary Artist

Carrie Morey | Owner of Callie’s Biscuits

Dantera Richardson | Owner of  Swank Desserts

Dantera Richardson | Owner of Swank Desserts

Vinson Petrillo|  Head Chef at  Zero George Cafe + Bar

Vinson Petrillo|  Head Chef at Zero George Cafe + Bar

Vonda Freeman |  The Beverage Director of  Indigo Road Group

Vonda Freeman |  The Beverage Director of Indigo Road Group

As you may know, some of my very favorite things in the world (in no particular order) are as follows: Food, Photography, People, Portraits, Fashion. So few weeks ago when I got a call from my girl Andrea of Charleston Shop Curator to see if I wanted to photograph some ofCharleston's best tastemakers, I leaped at the chance to do this project (Truth be told, I sort of forced her to call me with my voodoo magic, but don't tell her that). Her roster of individuals included some of Charleston's leaders in the food & wine industry right now - coming from all corners of the business.

These people work tirelessly to give us the best dining and drinking experience that Charleston is known for.  And on the cusp of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, the timing was perfect to highlight these amazing people in a way they don't normally get to be shown to the public.

Since these people are usually seen and photographed in their apron, chef jacket, crocs, Andrea and her partner, Venita, had the great idea enhancing their already amazing styles with a fashion shoot.  And lucky for us, Cannon Green graciously let us shoot with their beautiful restaurant as the backdrop to our great shoot.

Did I mention I love what I do?

If you aren't familiar with these names, I highly recommend you get familiar with them. Each of these F+B pros bring something uniquely amazing to the experience of food in the Charleston Area.

Brunch at Indaco

milk and honey
patatas bravas
bloody mary

I recently went to brunch at Indaco, with the always lovely Andrea from Charleston Shop Curator, and her adorable family for a special feature on her blog. To say that the food was tremendous would be an understatement. To say that we ate like kings for a day would be more than a grand understatement as well. It was, without a doubt, one of the best meals I have had in a while.

Charleston is brimming with restaurant options these days, so brunch can be a hard choice in a city filled with delicious options. But this gem did not disappoint in any way. Not only were we seated immediately, but the service was perfectly timed. And the food....AAAGGGHHH!!! The FOOD! So good! We powered through Patatas Bravas (the best thing we ate), Milk and Honey (perhaps the best ricotta I have ever tasted), Breakfast Pizza (eggs on pizza for the WIN), Nutella Pizza, the Chorizo dish and Eggs Al Forno (I die), washed down with a slow gin fizz and a bloody mary (spicy and delicious). Not a bad way to end the weekend.

If you are in Charleston, don't walk... RUN to this brunch. The food was incredible, and the staff could not have been more accommodating to our eccentric group of diners - not to mention me snapping photos of every dish that came out. It couldn't have been a better experience.

Indaco is on Upper King Street and is open for brunch on Sundays.

Take care.

Morning rituals - fresh juice and avocado toast on Ezekiel bread. Sunday bacon for the win.

Morning rituals - fresh juice and avocado toast on Ezekiel bread. Sunday bacon for the win.

Take care of yourself. Kindly and with purpose. Gently over breakfast, or fiercely over your morning sweat. Take time for rest. Spend moments on yourself. Eat. Sleep. Play. Work. Find some spiritual center - in God, or on the beach, or a under a leaf. Find a place that you feel really small. Find a place that you feel really big. They are both really important to finding the balance we all strive for.

Just take the time to take the care of you that you deserve. You are worth it.

Project 365

Carrots from my garden. I am learning here too.

Carrots from my garden. I am learning here too.

I have long admired the discipline of people who do a 365 project. I just never got into one of my own. Often I am taken away from my desk for stretches of time on shoots out of town (I am unfortunately not a laptop user). I also seem to struggle with something that I have to do every day - like take a daily supplement, for example. And these projects always sounded like more work added into my already busy life.

Besides all that, I think the vulnerability of posting something every day to the world that might not be your "best work" is something all photographers struggle with. Will people like this photo? Is it good enough? Am I good enough? Will I look too narcissistic or (insert other harsh adjective here) if I just post stuff about my life all the time? Self doubt can stop you before you have even begun a project. And so far, for me, it has succeeded.

Fear is real. And putting yourself out there can be hard. But like everything, you just have to do it. Leap and the net will appear. You just have to show up and keep trying...keep practicing...keep working towards the goal.  A 365 project is just this - practice. It's there so you can keep working on that craft, so you can keep addressing the things you love to do, and so you can ultimately be better - be it gardening, yoga, photography or motherhood. Practice builds the ultimate confidence we seek out. 

So here I am, working on my very own Project 365. I can't wait to see what it brings. I can't wait for the mishaps and the hiccups and the trials and tribulations that comes with growth and learning. I can't wait to see what comes next.