Oakland-based photographer Chava Oropesa has colored his career with his passion for food and product photography. His bright palettes and meticulous staging are key elements in producing the clean and creative images that represent his signature style.
As a result of his previous experience photographing product imagery, Chava became the creative director for the vegan skincare brand Tuel. His five-year relationship with the company led to a complete rebrand of their visual identity where Chava photographed all imagery for their packaging, website, and advertising.
For this project, Chava combined his two specialties — food and product photography — by capturing images of natural ingredients to highlight Tuel’s history of crafting herbal infusions.
We would discuss the ingredients, angles, and style needed for each piece of packaging so that when we went into the shoot we already had an idea of the result we wanted to achieve.
Tuel’s skincare line comprises nearly 40 different products, and under Chava’s direction, sought to craft unique packaging for each blend. For this project, Chava worked with food stylist Randy Mon, who styled the products and paired each with a distinct botanical.
One of my favorite parts of the shoot was collaborating with Randy Mon. We bounced ideas off each other and used each other’s expertise to bring life to the table.
Like other food photographers, Chava has learned the importance of having a well-stocked studio, where he can control each element through his expert eye. He invited Randy to his at-home studio, which over the course of three days became a living jungle of plants.
I had my husband ask “can I eat this” all the time, just to make sure he was not taking any of the “talent” away from the shoot.
The two creatives worked together in Chava’s lofted apartment, where the high ceilings brought natural light to his studio and his kitchen helped them clean and prep the ingredients. They would arrange the elements on his light table, taking pains to overlay pieces without casting a shadow to maintain a sharper focus.
The cleanest and closest I can get to the image needed on camera, the least post production I would need.
His crisp, modern imagery was essential to crafting the brand’s new packaging. Instead of reading a long list in fine print, the customer can better understand the blend of ingredients through his visual descriptions.
The goal of the shoot was to capture the botanicals as natural and vibrant as possible. We didn’t want them to be too retouched that they started looking like illustrations.
As a food photographer, Chava credits his ingenuity with ingredients from his childhood spent in the family kitchen. In witnessing the colorful creations that his mother produced, he has developed his own photographic style. While his career didn’t follow her skills in cooking, his passion for photography pays homage to the medley of ingredients that inspired him long ago.