There is something special about brunch, that ubiquitous meal in the middle between a late breakfast and an early lunch that elicits a mix of nostalgia and a yearning for social connection. Pre-pandemic brunch was an experience, a reason to go out and enjoy overflowing mimosas and extravagant pancakes, but during quarantine, cooking at home became the norm, with people trying new recipes more than ever.
Central Florida-based photographer Suzanne Clements applies her creativity to a host of brunch dishes from healthy to decadent and all the way to playful in her latest work for Delish’s new quarterly magazine. Known for her colorful studio photography, Suzanne prepared, styled, and photographed each recipe employing pops of color and texture to create beautiful, appetizing images that perfectly capture the essence of brunch.
Several of Suzanne’s images were featured throughout the inaugural issue of Delish’s magazine, which launched this month. The ‘stuffed french toast’ image shot for this issue was also selected to be featured in CommArts Photography Annual, which comes out later this summer.
It’s been an absolute thrill to see how many of my images made it to press! Some photos didn’t make the cut, that’s how things go, but I was so grateful to get an advanced copy to help celebrate this awesome milestone we accomplished with their inaugural issue.
Hearst, the publisher for the magazine, initially reached out to Suzanne at the beginning of the pandemic to capture a regional project due to the travel restrictions that prevented them from sending their own team to Florida. They began planning this shoot, but things changed, and the original project got delayed as the world shut down for quarantine. However, during this time, Suzanne began collaborating with them remotely and photographing some of Delish’s online recipe content.
We kept in touch through that initial shutdown and started to get to know each other through a series of recipe shoots we did for their online content. Later, Florida opened back up, and we produced the original project (hooray!). That led to producing some work for the new quarterly magazine project.
For the Brunch issue, the creative team at Delish wanted the images to look delicious but also authentic and approachable. So they gave Suzanne creative freedom but provided her with some high-level art direction, including what angles to capture and an idea of what they had in mind for the mood and lighting.
They’re big fans of the bold, bright, and in-your-face realness of the food. If something is gooey, they want to see it gooey. If it’s going to be a bit messy, that’s okay. They aren’t fussy; it’s all about keeping the food aspirational but not perfect.
Working with them has been an absolute pleasure, and the images we created together via their killer recipes, even though it was done at a distance, were fulfilling, creative, and of course, delicious.
Because of the restrictions at the time, Suzanne took on all sourcing, pre-production, and styling in addition to photographing each recipe as well. Juggling all the different tasks, coupled with sourcing props and sets when many stores were closed for in-store shopping, was a challenge, but Suzanne made it all come together.
It was just me, prepping, styling, propping, shooting. It’s a lot for one person, but thankfully I have experience doing that. Would I have loved to have a stylist? ABSOLUTELY, they’re worth every single penny, but, you know, pandemic and all.
Before the shoot, she would capture rough images of the set-ups for each recipe for client approval, and she would prep the food a day in advance. This allowed her to use her time more efficiently and capture as many recipes as possible with a one-person team. Then, as she photographed each setup, she would send images to the client on Slack for approval as well.
All the props were dusted on shoot day, washed, ready to go, and the food was pre-prepped, allowing me to move from one set-up to the next as efficiently as possible. Then, with one shoot approved, I’d reset, finalize the food, style, and shoot.
Whether I’m draping the perfect dribble of maple syrup and grabbing my camera before it spills over the side or figuring out how to make my props and surfaces feel fresh – I love the challenge of working with food. I think if you ask anyone who shoots or styles for food, they’ll tell you that they enjoy the creativity they have to harness to make a project come together.