NAME Eva Kosmas Flores
LOCATION Portland, Oregon
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND BA in Film Production; Minor in Sociology, Loyola Marymount University
COMPANY Adventures in Cooking
Tell me a bit about yourself & how you first became interested in food photography. I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon where my family had a Greek restaurant and deli for 30 years. I grew up there, literally. My parents didn’t trust daycare so they brought me and my siblings into the restaurant everyday while they worked and we hung out at our kids table in the corner drawing and playing. Once we were old enough to go to school, we just spent Saturdays there and on Sunday the restaurant was closed. My dad is from Greece and my mother is American and they are both incredible cooks, so food was a huge part of my life from the time I was little.
I took my first photography class when I was 15 and fell in love with it. I’d been doing it as a hobby for years and years but never really thought of combining my love for food and photography until my blog started taking. This was off a few years back when I was working as a producer’s assistant on a sitcom in Los Angeles and was miserable about my job. I studied film production at university and thought it was what I wanted to do until I realized that all I looked forward to was cooking and shooting food outside of work hours, so I decided to change careers. It was the best thing I ever did.
Food styling & photography can be a little tricky. How do you combat the fact that food will only stay hot or drizzle in just the right way for so long? There are tricks you learn. Some stylists use artificial means that make the food inedible to keep it looking ‘fresh’, but I try to avoid that when I can and will use olive oil and a pastry brush to keep cooked items looking shiny, moist and fresh while I’m shooting them. For fresh fruits and veggies I have a mister bottle filled with water handy. And most drizzly things, like honey or maple syrup, will thicken if chilled. So if you want something to drizzle really slowly so it’s easier to photograph, just pop it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to an hour depending on how thick you want it to get.
What has been the best part about working for yourself? The freedom to choose what I want to work on. I don’t have to work on a project I’m not interested in or passionate about. And if I find a product or a company or a person interesting, I have the ability to reach out to them to see if there is some way to collaborate. And that makes my overall quality of work better, the more passionate I am about something, the more inspired I am and the more beautiful and creative the final product will be.
Your photographs are stunning & filled with textural pieces that enhance the overall picture. In your opinion, what elements make for the perfect shot? Well, there are many things, but I think the basics are good lighting, accurate white balance, a fabric or textural element of some kind, fresh garnishes or greenery, good serve ware, good flatware, and a great backdrop and shooting surface. And of course a delicious and beautiful food subject of some kind. My favorite to make and shoot are cakes. So many different ways to make them look awe-inspiring…
Describe your aesthetic. Where do you draw inspiration? Is it ever-changing? My aesthetic has a dreamy, rustic feel to it. I use a lot of vintage props and my go-to shooting surface is my rustic barn wood tabletop. I draw inspiration from all over the place. Blogs, artwork, restaurants, movies, pretty much anywhere. I went to my brother’s apartment a couple weeks ago and saw a vintage illustration he had hung on his wall with old jello mold-type dessert drawings on it. The names of the desserts were underneath the drawings and I was particularly drawn to one called a ‘blanc mange’ which I’d never heard of. So I looked it up later, and it’s apparently like a panna cotta but it ‘s French and made with homemade almond milk. I made some the next week and it was a really beautiful and delicious dessert.
What Eva-original recipe stands out as a favorite? This jalapeño cornbread with caramelized onions is always a hit with everyone, and I am obsessed with it. So moist and sweet from the corn, sour cream, and caramelized onions, but with a salty kick from the cheese and some spice from the jalapeños. It’s definitely the best cornbread I’ve ever had, and I’ve eaten a LOT of cornbread. I also love this pumpkin brown butter cake with whipped cream cheese and honey. So ridiculously tasty, and fresh-cut flowers make for a really easy but striking garnish.
Has there been a particular moment where you felt most accomplished and validated in your career? I recently signed a cookbook deal and I think that has been the highlight of everything I’ve done so far. It’s been my life’s goal to write a cookbook and now that it is in the works, I could not be happier.
Where do you see yourself, your blog & your photography business in five years? I see myself with a few cookbooks under my belt, maybe even a gardening book. I’d like to be shooting for different food publications and large-scale clients, and I’d also like to be shooting food-related travel photographs for travel companies. I love exploring new cultures through food and I feel like that really comes through in my photographs, especially the ones I took in Thailand recently. I see my blog continuing as it is now, a chronicle of my life through food, maybe with a little more gardening and homemaking posts thrown in.
What one pearl of wisdom would you share with those getting into photography professionally? Practice. Practice, practice, practice. I’ve taken hundreds if not thousands of terrible photos to become good at photography. Nobody picks up a camera and immediately takes perfectly composed, styled, and lit photographs. All of that takes time. The best way to learn is to *do*, so that way you can make mistakes and see what works and what doesn’t. And don’t be too hard on yourself. I feel like, especially in the blogging world, sometimes there is this pressure to keep up a facade of this perfect reality and lifestyle, where everything always smells like roses and your photos are effortlessly beautiful and your house looks like a Restoration Hardware catalogue. Nobody takes great photos all of the time, even the best photographers. Sometimes shoots aren’t going to go well and that’s completely okay, because you’re going to learn what you did wrong and avoid doing that the next time ’round.
Cake or pie? Cake to photograph and pie to eat : )
Guilty pleasure? HBO’s True Blood and flaming hot cheetos. Both so bad, yet so good at the same time.
Henrietta’s calf’s name? Wally
Favorite corner of the world? Thailand. The food, the beaches, the scenery….everything there is just incredible.
Last book you read? Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan