July 15, 2011

Creative Process Interview with El from Fresh New England

 If you haven't seen the beautiful blog, Fresh New England, you need to go admire the lovely photos and amazing recipes. When I first contacted El about participating in my creative process series she was busy getting ready to launch Fresh Photography. Now that she has a bit more time to talk about her work, I am so happy to share the process and thoughts of another talented creative woman.

If you haven't seen it, don't forget to check out the rest of the series here. And thanks again, El, for sharing your thoughts!

First tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative pursuits. I’m the founder and creator of the website Fresh New England, the dessert blog Fresh and the owner and principal photographer at Fresh Photography. These outlets allow me to express my love and passion for New England’s local farms and food producers through cooking, baking and photographing food made with fresh, local ingredients. My photography also helps regional food businesses, chefs, farmers, restauranteurs and authors put their best foot forward and promote their work to the general public.

In terms of my background, I studied art and began baking in childhood and I’ve refined my skills through both formal and informal education as well as travel. In addition to these pursuits, I have several advanced degrees and have worked in the communication and business fields for many years. I’m fortunate because every aspect of my work, be it baking, photography, teaching or consulting informs the other and inspires me to take my skills to the next level. I love what I do - especially when it comes to making food taste sensational and look beautiful.

Tell us a little bit about your work space. What do you like about? What would you change about it if you could? Most of my food photography and styling is done in my home studio. Our house was built in 1865 and consequently the studio design is reflective of the Victorian era. The high ceilings, hardwood floors and marble fireplace make it a truly exceptional place to work and be inspired.

At minimum, my studio is a place for prop, equipment and chocolate storage. This is important because at any given time I can have 50 or more pounds of chocolate in the house. More importantly, however, the studio is where I write, work on my iMac, conduct lighting experiments, shoot and style food and edit photos. Unfortunately and all too frequently, it’s also where I eat my blog posts.

I love the space because it’s timeless and it’s elegant. I just feel good when I’m in it. It’s also close to the kitchen which is key when I need to create, style and then shoot a recipe.

It would be nice to have more natural light. But I suppose that’s more about changing the New England weather than changing my work space.

What motivates you to create? Art mostly. I spend a lot of time studying the masters and always find museums inspirational. I’m lucky living in New England because I can pretty much throw a stone
and hit a museum or gallery. What else? Often times the food itself is inspiring and evokes a feeling or memory that I want to capture with my camera. Food is very emotional for people, myself included, and it’s always interesting to trigger that emotion with a photograph.

What stalls or inhibits your creative process? Clutter and disorganization. Being neat and organized frees me up to concentrate on my art. It’s also important because food is pretty messy and the last thing I need is to get cake batter on my Nikon.

Can you talk about some things that you have learned from mistakes or failures? Of course. I’ve learned to embrace them. When I’m learning something new, I expect to make mistakes. Taking the time to learn something properly and from the ground up definitely reduces the likelihood of failure and that’s what I strive to do. But generally speaking, I don’t get upset about mistakes. No one is successful all the time. If you don’t fail, you’re not trying and you’re certainly not learning.

Do you ever have doubts about your creations or creative process? How do you keep them away? Typically, when I see people doubt their work, it’s because they’re comparing their work to the work of others. To me, that’s a waste of energy because everyone has a different skill set and everyone sees the world through a different lens.

If I see work I admire or a style I’d like to emulate I ask myself, “what skills would I have to learn in order to achieve that particular effect, result, etc.?” and then I set out to learn those skills. Taking the time to study, educate and discipline myself sets me free to reach my full potential both as an artist and a person. In the words of Epictetus, “First, say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” That’s pretty much it.


  1. I'm a big fan or her work. Inspirational post!

  2. The last comment was supposed to read "of" her work. Thanks for the great interview!!

  3. It was interesting to read, Thank You for sharing!

  4. The mysterious El revealed! Seriously, you did a lovely job interviewing her. I am always so interested in other people's creative processes, and I love how she says that she doesn't compare herself to others.

    Now I have a new blog to follow--yours! I am enjoying your posts, too :)

  5. Great guest post and a lovely blog this blogger/photographer/baker has. And 50 pounds of chocolate?! Wow :)

    This Good Life

  6. Love this interview. I've always wanted to know more about El and I'm pleased to read that she's confident and level-headed. Inspirational, truly. Great blog too!!

  7. Thank you for this interesting interview with El!
    I am an admirer of her work, she is a great artist.

  8. Wonderful interview!

    El, I love what you had to say in response to the last question. I often find myself having doubts about my own photography instead of embracing the skills I do have. Thank you for helping to put that into perspective.

  9. Yes, I was thrilled that El wanted to share more about herself and her work with all of us. Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  10. It's so great to learn more about El. I have been following her work for some time now, and with each post I find more that I would like to emulate. El - you are a master yourself!