Food & Photography. A Chat with Nicole Franzen

By Maddie - 6 min read

Food and lifestyle photographer Nicole Franzen developed an early passion for food and travel, which later blossomed into a photography career.

Food and lifestyle photographerNicole Franzendeveloped an early passion for food and travel,which later blossomed into a photography career. Her authentic imagery makes you feel at home and draws you in for a second look. Today, we hear all about her process and inspiration while picking up some tips along the way.

You were interested in food at a young age, but the photography part came a bit later. How did you fuse these two passions?

Yes, it’s true, photography came a little later. I was interested in food and working in restaurants before I ever thought I would become a professional photographer. However, throughout my youth I enjoyed snapping photos and in high school I had an entire wall filled with snapshots of friends that I had taken.

It wasn’t until later I decided I could merge the two. I originally thought I wanted to shoot fashion and lifestyle. Then after thoughtful consideration and experimentation it made most sense to train my eye to shoot the things that I had loved my whole life. It just fit.

How have your travels informed your photography?

Travel is such an inspiring thing. Visiting new places is the best way to get excited about taking photos. Even people who don’t want to be photographers take photos while they’re traveling. I started exploring and living in different places around the world at the age of 17 and really got into documenting my trips.

Lifestyle photography has changed a lot since the days of Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens—traditionally considered stalwarts of the lifestyle genre. How do you think it has changed and where do you think it is going?

Those magazines have paved the way for all the of “new lifestyle” magazines. Without them we wouldn’t have an industry. I think the changes that are happening are positive and attracting a new demographic. A group of younger individuals who want to show that things like entertaining, decorating and cooking are completely attainable and not far from our reach.

We are also going back to our roots in expressing our interest in knowing where things are coming from and how they are being made. I think it’s going in a very positive direction, and I am so happy to be a part of it.

What role does your smartphone play in your photography?

It has really become a HUGE tool in the last couple years. Since the iPhone’s image quality keeps getting better and better, I am more likely to use it. It’s easy to carry around and fun to shoot with. I personally love it. If my iPhone could shoot as high quality photos as my DSLR I would carry nothing else. It enables me to share things quickly and easily, which I like.

Inspiration is a big part of the creative process. How did you find what inspires you? And what do you do to stay inspired?

I feel lucky that I don’t have to search too far to be inspired. I am inspired by places, the weather, people, nature, etc. I can typically go out for a walk and find something to be inspired by. Also there is no lack of inspiring people – so many talented photographers and creatives out there whom motivate me. I also find it important to disconnect from all that and search what’s inside. It’s important.

What aspects of photography are challenging for you?

The most challenging things for me currently vary. It comes down to running your own business for the first time and not really having a clue what you are actually doing! I am learning every day how to handle situations, clients, financials and technical stuff. There are areas I need to work on and I am always fine tuning my work and my eye.

Since I am self-taught I have my setbacks; I didn’t learn the things that I would have had I assisted or gone to school for it. I often face those types of challenges, but I keep plugging along! Hoping for the best and always working on improving myself and my skill.

What are the three things that make life great?

Sunshine, fresh vegetables and friends.

Can you share a tip for taking great lifestyle and food photographs?

Shoot in natural light. Keep an eye out for those beautiful little details, capture them.

Thanks for sharing, Nicole! Want to see more of her beautiful work? Check out her websiteand her blog, La Buena Vida to follow along.

You can also read interviews with other talented photographers here:
Authentic Imagery at Its Best. An Interview with Lauren Marek
Photographing Faces around the World. All Eyes On: Warren Guthrie
The Power of the Still Image. An Interview with Ed Kashi