I'm a photographer in New Jersey who loves food and dogs, so you'll see a lot of both here. Also check out my food blog at Minimally Invasive, where life's a feast. 


Dishing Up New Jersey

The term “food photography” contains encompasses so much. Quite a bit of what I do is helping small business owners with their branding or product photography, but when you throw in the odd editorial assignment, restaurant or advertorial shoot, the scope of my workday broadens considerably.  

Then there’s cookbook photography.

It’s a different world from the single-day shoots that make up the bulk of my business, working closely with the art director to produce a cohesive look that still allows for some surprise and variety as you navigate the book. Generally, I just shoot styled photos for cookbooks in my home studio, but for Dishing Up New Jersey, I had the opportunity to travel the state with author John Holl, visiting restaurants, small businesses and farms to show the breadth of what my adopted home state has to offer when it comes to food. And it was so much fun! From the curious cattle at Cherry Grove Farm... 

to games at Jenkinson's Boardwalk...

and the wonderful restaurants in-between...

Open-faced sandwich at Talula's Pizza in Asbury Park

Open-faced sandwich at Talula's Pizza in Asbury Park

Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten

Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten

L'Arte della Pasticceria in Ramsey

L'Arte della Pasticceria in Ramsey

I discovered so much more to love about the place I’ve called home for the past 11 years.

With a forward by Augie Carton of Carton Brewing and John’s deep knowledge of and passion for the state, this book is a real winner. I couldn’t be prouder of my involvement in this project or happier with the results! Pick up a copy here.  


A Summer Treat

This year's been a productive one so far! I'll be sharing some client projects with you soon, but wanted to post first about an ongoing collaboration with local food stylist Darcie Hunter. Earlier this year, she moved to Ringwood from Shanghai, where her husband was posted for his job and where she worked as a food stylist for Shanghai Family Magazine. Well, I couldn't wait to start test shooting with her once we met! Treat is the result of us putting our heads together to come up with summertime desserts.

Click on the photo or here to go to the online magazine. And if you try any of the desserts, let me know! I'm on a sugar hiatus for a while, understandably, but promise to live vicariously. 

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Happy New Year

Hello, and happy 2016! The start of a new year is the perfect time to reflect on the past, and since it's a great idea to understand where you've been in order to get where you want to go, I'll be doing just that today. I’m using this post to discuss what happened in my photography business over the past 12 months and to lay out where I’d like to take it in the next 12. 

Most exciting for me in 2015 was that I managed to triple my income over the previous year by setting some common sense practices and really getting to know the programs that make it easier to run a business; I've listed the best ones below. With the exception of BlinkBid and The Arcanum, the rest of these are useful for any type of business, not just photography, so read on and let me know what you think. And if there are programs you like that I haven't mentioned, please let me know in the comments section.


For me, keeping on top of the business end of things is the toughest aspect of being self-employed. Not only do you have to do the actual work you're getting paid for (a.k.a, the fun stuff), you have to woo clients and keep their projects organized, handle billing and taxes, work on advertising and marketing, and still find time to feed your creative soul. The number of departments you have to head as a small business owner can be frightening, so the first, biggest, and best thing I did for my business last year was signing up for 17hats, an all-in-one business system for entrepreneurs that allows you to consolidate a lot of your back-end workload into one easily-managed site. It’s been a real time-saver for me, limiting the number of programs I have to use for tasks as diverse as:

  • Creating a client index
  • Lead generation
  • Emailing clients
  • Compiling quotes for jobs
  • Designing and sending invoices
  • Billing and collecting payment for jobs
  • Bookkeeping
  • Time tracking
  • Keeping a daily to-do list
  • Centralizing my calendar

The 17hats folks are constantly working on improvements, so the site is still a work in progress in some areas and thus isn’t without frustrations — for instance, I can’t connect my Etsy shops to the payment module — but they take suggestions for improvements and allow users to vote on the ones they should integrate first. Their customer service has been fast and responsive the few times I've needed them. If you’re interested in signing up, follow this link for more information. (If you use it, I'll get credit for a free month. If you don't, you'll still get a great deal — I just won't get credit for referring you.)


If you don't need the client management tools of 17hats but are looking for an accounting program that's easier to use than QuickBooks, Wave is a fantastic, free online accounting site that I highly recommend. It can also handle invoicing, payments and payroll, making it a very useful tool when you're just starting out.


Sometimes you need a centralized system for random note-taking that you can sync across devices. For this sort of thing (and for tracking mileage), I absolutely love Evernote. The free version has more than enough storage for me, but there are paid business versions that allow you to add multiple users to the same account. 


I really credit having good SEO on this website with my increased revenue last year. People searching for photographers found me much more often in 2015 than they did previously. I began receiving many more inquiries once I targeted whom I wanted to reach. While every inquiry didn’t turn into a paying client, I was very happy with the projects I took on, and most of those projects led to ongoing relationships.

There's a LOT involved with getting your SEO in order (and it's a long process that doesn't pay immediate dividends), but the first step I took was to research my competition — those photographers who could conceivably be hired instead of me for a project. Then I looked at what makes me different from them — how I can better bring value to my target customer — and updated my titles and tags accordingly. I hope to fine-tune it this year to better reach the market I can best serve in tabletop and restaurant photography.


Last year was my second time taking Marie Forleo’s B-School. I didn’t quite complete the program, but I’ve learned incredible, workable lessons for building a business from the ground up through this program. There’s a vibrant community surrounding B-School and participation in it is as big of a learning experience as the actual course work. Some of the other students over-market to the rest of us from time to time, but if you interact with a good head on your shoulders, it’s the best learning experience you can have for the money. Believe me: I've taken more courses and done more reading over the past four years than I can even tell you. 

Check out the B-School website here. If you decide to sign up for the course this Spring, be sure to do so through a B-School affiliate, generally a former student who offers his or her own classes or materials when you register through them. It’s no additional cost to you and you'll get a lot more out of it. I joined B-School through Kristen Kalp's affiliate program a couple of years ago and couldn’t be more thrilled with the ongoing support and creative community she’s built on her own. 


I have two Etsy shops now — one that sells photo prints and one that sells digital stock photography for small businesses. With the latter, I mainly cater to sellers of stationery, but also sell food stock photography and general desktop images. These shops allow me to add additional revenue streams to my freelance income and keep me in practice during slow periods. I haven't marketed those shops because they aren't my primary area of income, but even so, the extra money they generate is much appreciated.

Photo Shoot Estimates

When you're starting your photography business, or even when you've been at it a while, bidding on a job can be stressful, if not downright confusing. BlinkBid is the best tool I've found for creating photo shoot estimates. It gives you all the categories and tools you could ever need to bid on a project and shows you the going rate for your market so you don't come in ridiculously high or low relative to other photographers. I've found it especially helpful when I'm trying to determine usage rights, which drove me to distraction in the early days of my business. It's still a delicate dance and bidding often involves a lot of discussion with clients to demonstrate why you're the best choice, but this software can steer you in the right direction.

Continuing Education

It's so important to stay on top of new developments and hone your skills, especially if you're self-taught, as I am. I joined The Arcanum last October, and have to say it’s been a fantastic learning experience so far. The Arcanum allows you to grow as a photographer (professional or hobbyist) through targeted mentoring, using the time-tested Master & Apprentice learning method. I’ve learned a great deal about commercial food styling and photography from the master of our cohort in just the short time I’ve been with them, and my fellow apprentices are a talented and inquisitive bunch from whom I’ve also discovered a lot. 

Signing up on the website is free. Once you’re selected by a master to join the cohort he or she leads, you can choose to accept or decline the invitation. If you accept, you’ll become a member of the Arcanum for a monthly fee (currently $79) with access to the Grand Library — a treasure trove of photography videos across all disciplines. It’s not as inexpensive as a completely self-directed education, but I'm getting to where I need to be much, much faster than I was able to on my own, so I'll happily continue with the program. This has been an extremely efficient way of gaining the specialized knowledge I need, and I consider the targeted instruction I’m receiving invaluable. (Just my two cents.)

If you think you want to throw your hat in the ring but still have some questions, feel free to email me to chat about it. And if you decide to sign up, I’d love it if you’d let me know so I can send you a direct link for an invitation; if you join via my link, I'll receive one free month of membership and you'll receive a fantastic education plus my gratitude! 

The Future

I’m not one to make resolutions, generally, but I do like to set intentions and goals for the year. Resolutions are generally action-driven — to work out more, to drink less, to eat more nutritious meals — but intentions resonate at a deeper level; they reflect who you are at your core, with actions flowing from them. Christine Kane has been preaching this for years. I've learned from her to set a word of intention for the year. 

With that said, here's what's in the works for 2016:

  • My intention for this year is Focus. Where I fell down in 2015 was bouncing from task to task and trying to do too much at one time, which resulted in getting less done and less completely than I wanted.
  • My financial goal for 2016 is to once again triple my income, which would be a spectacular thing to achieve. I have a few extra irons in the fire, so it's certainly possible, but will take all the focus I can muster.
  • I'm working on an online product photography course for small business owners that will get them up and running with professional-looking images in no time at all. I'm contacted pretty often for custom shoots, and while I love doing them, they're not an efficient use of my time and can turn quite expensive for a small shop. For the cost of three or four custom branding photos, my course will teach people how to produce the photos they need with a minimal investment in equipment. If you'd like to learn more about it when it's available, please sign up here for updates. 
  • Marketing. It's been the bane of my existence till now, but it's a necessary part of business. I'll be taking Marie Forleo's advice and turning it into an opportunity to serve people who need my services rather than sending annoying sales pitches to anyone and everyone. 


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Puppy Photo Shoot

In mid-January, the West Milford Animal Shelter more than doubled its dog population when a lovely pitbull named Nina and her newborn puppies were brought in, along with a wire-haired dachshund named Max, whom we think is the father. (Some of the puppies are looking a little wiry themselves, so our suspicions about Max inch more toward confirmation with each passing day.)

The puppies are nearly eight weeks old, so we did a photo shoot with them last week in preparation for their Petfinder profiles. If you're interested in adopting one of these gorgeous creatures, you'll need to visit the shelter, as we're only taking pre-adopt forms in person.* 

All five of the puppies are named for people who are dedicated to animal rescue. First up, we have Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky! Howard is the guy on the left with the large patches of white fur on his nose and chest:

Beth O. and Howard Stern | Amy Roth Photo
Beth O. | Amy Roth Photo

This is Beth (above), the over-confident pup of the litter. With proper leadership she'll blossom into a sweetheart. When she isn't terrorizing the place as puppies do, she is a little cuddle bug. Beth quickly became the biggest of the litter with her dominant attitude, but she plays nicely with her siblings and loves to give the volunteers puppy kisses...

Beth O. and Howard Stern_Amy Roth Photo

...and to nibble on her brother Howard's ear, evidently.

Howard Stern and Beth O. | Amy Roth Photo

Howard is curious and finds himself in all kinds of trouble if given the opportunity. He isn't afraid to try anything once and his curiosity helped him to quickly learn his new surroundings. He's smart and always the first to find a way out. 

Howard Stern | Amy Roth Photo

This next little guy is Bob Barker, the smallest of the litter, but also the most outgoing. He may be the "Velcro" dog who really sticks to his human. While the whole litter follows volunteers around, Bob is the first to see them coming and continues to want to be with his humans. He is a smart guy who can figure out how to get into and out of many situations.

Bob Barker | Amy Roth Photo
Bob Barker_Amy Roth Photo

Lastly, we have Blake (Shelton) and Miranda (Lambert). Blake, on the left, has more of his dad's wiry hair while Miranda has a smoother coat.

Blake and Miranda | Amy Roth Photo

Blake's a really chill puppy. He struts his stuff as though he has all the confidence in the world, but he's actually a little leery of new situations. Once he realizes no harm will come to him he settles right in to whatever new activity presents itself.

Blake | Amy Roth Photo

Miranda is the quiet one of the bunch and will be a little lady when she gets older. She's happy to occupy herself with a toy and loves to be held. Miranda will likely be the couch potato of the litter.

Miranda | Amy Roth Photo
Blake & Miranda | Amy Roth Photo

I can't thank the shelter enough for allowing me to come in to photograph these pups! I love my day job, but food and product photography just can't give you all the feels the way puppies do!

*Puppies will not go home with you when you fill out the paperwork. Rather, applications will be reviewed and selected adopters contacted. Our adoption fee is $75.




Hello, and happy New Year to you! I hope your 2015 is off to a productive start and your resolutions are still in motion. So far, so good for me: I've been planning out my business year and cleaning up my diet via Primal eating. (If you're interested in the food stuff, you can follow along as I share healthy meals over at Minimally Invasive.)

I know I haven't shared much that's going on here, but prepare for a big change on that front this year. To start, I recently launched Stockistry — a stock photography shop on Etsy — to sell affordable branding and product images for small business to use on their websites, in online stores and social media banners. My friend Jennifer Herrington of Seahorse Bend Press often wondered if there was an easier way to post product images in her store than doing a custom shoot each time, which got me thinking that there are probably plenty of other small business owners who have the same issue. They can't necessarily hire a photographer each time they launch a new product, but could get by with stock images and a little Photoshop know-how.

And that's how Stockistry was born. Things have been moving along swimmingly since the launch, so I wanted to show you how people are making these images their own!

First up is Megan Minns, who featured one of my holiday images in a desktop wallpaper giveaway for her readers. She has a lovely website and online boutique design studio that you really should take a look at.

Pen and Plume Designs with Stock Imagery by Stockistry.jpg

Next up is a stationery set by Pen and Plume Designs on Etsy, where they make liberal use of stock photography to bring their designs to life. This was originally posted as another holiday image, though I really think it's evergreen, so it'll live in my shop year-round.

Magnolia Creative Wallpaper with Stock Imagery by Stockistry

Lastly, we have another nice wallpaper option (above, right) from Magnolia Creative, a design studio run by another Louisiana girl, yay! This image features an array of objects I always have nearby and figured a lot of other creatives must, too. 

If you'd like to explore stock photography for your business, have a look around Stockistry and enjoy 20% off your order through Friday, 1/9/15 with code NEWYEAR2015 at checkout. I love taking on custom work, too, so if you need any product or food photography this year, drop me a line via my contact page. I'd love to hear from you!



Mistral Restaurant

Chef Nerenhausen of Mistral Restaurant | Amy Roth Photo.jpg

Where has the time gone?! I have so much to share with you! Over the summer, I took a temporary position in the production department at my former office (in NYC) and just lost the will to live for a while. Being back in the fold was pretty nice, actually; it was fun to see my old work friends again and a great change of pace to be part of a department again instead of working alone. The steady paycheck didn't hurt, either. The commute was a bear, though. I'm not sure how I did that trip for so many years, but it really sapped me this time around and left me without the inclination to blog. 

But I did have the opportunity to take on some photo shoots in my off hours. The one I'd like to share today was done on the 4th of July at Mistral Restaurant in Princeton, NJ, and appeared in the Fall issue of Edible Jersey (on p26, if you follow that link). The space is a knockout, flooded with natural light and a rustic feel that puts you at ease as soon as you enter. 

Mistral Restaurant | Amy Roth Photo.jpg
Mistral Decor | Amy Roth Photo.jpg
Mistral Interior | Amy Roth Photo.jpg

But the food is on another level entirely. One of the best things about being a food photographer is getting to sample the subjects and this was no exception. It's nearly a 90-minute drive for us, and I'd drop everything in a heartbeat to go back for a meal. Definitely check it out if you're looking for something new.

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington

Chef Ben Nerehausen was focused and precise as he built each dish for me to photograph. You really do eat first with your eyes at this restaurant.

Chicken Liver Paté. This image was selected for the cover, which was a wonderful surprise.

Chicken Liver Paté. This image was selected for the cover, which was a wonderful surprise.




Baby Beets | Amy Roth Photo

How often do you really see the beauty in the food you're preparing? Even though I do this for a living, I'm as guilty as anyone of rushing through food prep to get a meal on the table (or in front of the camera, more likely). But when I take the time to appreciate all of the parts in front of me, I'm never disappointed. 

And I find myself taking that time more and more, especially now that the farmers' market is in full swing. But even the freshest, least picked-over produce can be a challenge to appreciate fully. Take beets, which are hard to love; they're lumpy and a little hairy, stain your hands and take a lot of work to prepare. It's easy to dismiss them because of appearances and say that their flavor is what makes them special, but I disagree. I really enjoy the difficulty of trying to communicate a story with them and highlight their best sides, as I tried to do here.

Tell me, what are your favorite shooting challenges?

Beets | Amy Roth Photo
Beets, Baby | Amy Roth Photo



The Three B's

Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of overcast, foggy days, but when it comes to photography, there's nothing I love more! And when you combine the perfect conditions with the perfect subjects, magic can happen.

I love Buster so much. AGH! I just want to eat him up! If we didn't already have two large greyhounds, I'd be pleading with/cajoling/noodging my husband daily to visit Buster and bring him home with us. He's a gentle soul, attentive and loving with his humans, but had problems with separation anxiety in his last home, so now he's waiting at the West Milford Animal Shelter for a better situation to find him. 

Buster, an American Bulldog, is a big, gentle mush who loves attention from his handlers and walks very well on leash.

Buster, an American Bulldog, is a big, gentle mush who loves attention from his handlers and walks very well on leash.

Brownie is a staff favorite, an energetic little Boxer mix who loves — I mean LOVES — being outdoors and exploring her surroundings. She's really friendly and outgoing, which you can't quite tell from these photos, because she just clams up whenever I point the camera in her direction. And she sits like a champ, doesn't she?

Brownie, a Boxer mix, is all smiles until I pull out a camera, then it's serious business!

Brownie, a Boxer mix, is all smiles until I pull out a camera, then it's serious business!

And then there's Boomer, our resident goofball. He's technically a senior at eight years old, but you'd never know it. He's active when we take him out and walks on leash like a dream. And he has a great Fozzie Bear smile, don't you think? 

Boomer reminds me so much of Fozzie Bear whenever I take his picture. He's a lovable senior who enjoys head scritches and walks.

Boomer reminds me so much of Fozzie Bear whenever I take his picture. He's a lovable senior who enjoys head scritches and walks.

if you'd like to meet any of these dogs, come down to the West Milford Animal Shelter sometime. Click through the link to find a time that works for you!



Manischewitz Plant Tour, Edible Jersey

A worker inspects cut matzoh squares for defects before they go into the oven at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

A worker inspects cut matzoh squares for defects before they go into the oven at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

I just received my copy of Edible Jersey's summer issue and opened it to find the story I photographed at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. I just love going on assignment for the magazine because it takes me out of my little studio and lets me meet people I otherwise never would cross paths with. I learned quite a lot about matzoh history and production on the tour, too! Pick up a copy of the magazine on newsstands if you'd like to be similarly edified by Diana Cercone's excellent article. Below, a few more of my favorite images from the shoot.

Matzoh dough gets the spa treatment with rollers at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Matzoh dough gets the spa treatment with rollers at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Baked matzoh rides the conveyor belt to the packaging area. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Baked matzoh rides the conveyor belt to the packaging area. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Rabbi Yonah Hayum led the tour of the Manischewitz factory floor. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Rabbi Yonah Hayum led the tour of the Manischewitz factory floor. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Though the manufacturing process is a wonder, I was most impressed by the workers at the Manischewitz plant. So many of them have been there for years and years and everyone had a smile and a kind word for us as we passed through. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Though the manufacturing process is a wonder, I was most impressed by the workers at the Manischewitz plant. So many of them have been there for years and years and everyone had a smile and a kind word for us as we passed through. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.



Toronto, Part I

YES | Amy Roth Photo

My husband Gil and I just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Toronto for TCAF, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We've been going for several years now and I've grown to love the city with its diverse neighborhoods and solid dining scene, represented this weekend with outstanding meals at two of our old favorites — Bent and Lai Wah Heen. I'll be easing back into dining reality and exercise purgatory this week. Gustatory thrills aside, it's always great to see old friends at the show and make new ones each year. On Saturday, Gil recorded interviews with a few TCAF attendees for his Virtual Memories Show podcast while I met up with a till-now virtual friend.

Shannon Nicholson is an accomplished Cambridge, Ontario boudoir photographer who was matched up with me through an online business course we're taking. We're supposed to be accountability partners, but I'm awful at holding myself accountable for things, much less anyone else, so we've just discussed our businesses via email, celebrating our successes and brainstorming areas that still need work. Her knowledgable advice has, in part, led to my redesign of this site, so I was thrilled when she agreed to meet me for a walkabout over the weekend so I could finally meet her, explore a new part of the city (Leslieville) and take some pictures with my new 24mm lens in the process. We had a terrific time despite the sad, sad lunch spot we chose.

I've posted a few of my favorite pictures from our walkabout. The streets were relatively deserted for a Saturday, but there seems to be an ordinance that 30% of all residents must own a dog, so I was happy. We even saw two greyhounds who leapt for joy when they crossed paths. If we hadn't been in the car at the time you'd better believe I would've said hi because I'm one of those crazy greyhound people. Oh, yeah.

All of the color images below are for sale in my Etsy shop — just click on the photo to be directed there. TCAF photos coming in the next blog post!

Toronto Street Scene | Amy Roth Photo
Perspective | Amy Roth Photo



More Doggie Love

Hello, everyone! I hope you're enjoying Spring, wherever you are. Now that it's warmed up a bit and all of the snow has melted, we're loving life that much more. Not that I don't enjoy spending time at home (especially now that we've put up our dining room shelves), but it's a wonderful thing to simply walk around the neighborhood without feeling like your extremities are going to fall right off and shatter from the cold.

On the work front, I've had a few food-related shoots in the last couple of months, but can't really share them with you until they're published. What I can share, however, are more photos from the West Milford Animal Shelter! All of these dogs are currently up for adoption, and after working with them for the past few weeks, I can tell you any one of them would make a great pet!

First up is Asia, an energetic little lovebug who enjoys trotting along beside you on walks and lots of play time. She's smart, too; she knows basic commands like sit, stay, and off and learns quickly. 

Asia | Amy Roth Photo

And here's Chance, Asia's buddy. He's a good guy who knows basic commands and loves to play, too, but he's really strong, so the shelter won't be adopting him out to a home with small children. 

Chance | Amy Roth Photo

And he has a lot of character, shown best in his smile.

Chance's Wish | Amy Roth Photo

Buster is a strapping American Bulldog who loves attention and is typically pretty mellow, though he may pull a little on leash if he sees something he wants to investigate. He was adopted out last November, but had separation anxiety issues, so he was returned to the shelter recently. Because of this, they're thinking he might possibly do better in a home that already has another dog.

Buster | Amy Roth Photo

And here's miss Brownie again, enjoying a beautiful Spring day and a little tug-of-war with a volunteer. She has that adorable Boxer underbite and loves getting attention and affection. She was brought in with Buster. Maybe they can be adopted together?

Brownie | Amy Roth Photo

And finally, here's our resident joker, Diesel, a gorgeous, affectionate Husky/Lab mix. 

Diesel Channels Groucho | Amy Roth Photo

If you're looking for a new, furry addition to the family this spring, stop by the West Milford Animal Shelter for a visit and meet all of the resident charmers. But if cats are more your speed, believe me, you won't be disappointed



Diesel and Brownie

A couple of weeks ago, I began volunteering with the West Milford Animal Shelter, something I've wanted to do for a long time. Our greys are rescued, but I wanted to do more to help local animals that need good homes. I'm on cat duty until I complete my dog training course, at which time I can go where needed, but for now I'm enjoying getting to know the felines and am happy tagging along on dog walks. 

During my orientation session, I also volunteered to photograph any animals they thought could use a special picture to pique the interest of adopters. So last Sunday, I had my first shoot!

First up is Diesel, a Husky/Lab mix who's just a big ball of fun.   

And then there's gorgeous little Brownie, a Boxer/Terrier mix, who is truly a little love bug.

Even though I just started volunteering, it's been very rewarding to spend time with these animals and get to know them. If you'd like to learn more about Diesel or Brownie, click the links on their names or visit the West Milford Animal Shelter website.



Stay Gold, Stay Gold

Golden Milk Chai Tea ingredients shot with off-camera flash

Golden Milk Chai Tea ingredients shot with off-camera flash

I wrote a post at my other blog, Minimally Invasive, about a new concoction of mine called Golden Milk Chai Tea. I started out with the photo in that post, but found it boring. While it captured the essence of the tea well, I've done that type of food photography shot bazillions of times and wanted to do something different. So I tried a couple of alternate lighting setups and ended up with the photos I've posted here.

This wasn't JUST about boredom, though. Freelance work has been sloooooow this winter, and while I've been sending inquiry after inquiry, the offers haven't flooded in just yet. Working with different lighting setups has helped me to stay positive and maintain a strong work ethic, while preparing me for any eventuality that may come up on a shoot. I'm most comfortable working with natural light, having logged countless hours in front of our magical Sliding glass Door to Nowhere in the dining room, but over the past year I've also developed a real rapport with my studio lights — Frick and Frack, the Strobe brothers. So the last frontier for me is off-camera flash. If I were a portrait photographer, I would've gotten comfortable with it earlier, but with tabletop food photography and natural-light pet photography, it just hasn't been a priority. But things changed after seeing the beautiful work photographer Kyle Cassidy turns out with off-camera flash. (I met Kyle when my husband Gil interviewed him for his podcast last year — give it a listen —and immediately started following him on Facebook. You should, too.)

Golden Milk Chai Tea ingredients shot with Frick and Frack, the Strobe brothers

Golden Milk Chai Tea ingredients shot with Frick and Frack, the Strobe brothers

All of this is to say that the top photo was taken with an off-camera flash and reflective umbrella combo. For that shot, I wanted strong shadows and a minimal/clean setup and think I achieved that, even if it isn't the warmest look for food photography. The photo just above was taken with strobes and a softbox for softer light with the fill strobe aimed at the ceiling.

Styling is bare bones because I really wanted to work with few distractions, but I'm excited to see how this plays out in other ways with more complicated setups.




New in the Shop

Hi, folks! I've been working diligently behind the scenes, preparing for the holiday season and still can't believe it's knocking on the door already! Weren't we just ringing in the new year a few minutes ago? To say this year has flown by would be a huge understatement, but I suspect I'm not alone in that feeling. 

I've spent a bit of time updating my shop as well, adding photos, printable cards and more, and I'm so happy with the results I just want to share the new stuff with you today!

I've been playing around with double exposures lately and loved this image, which I call A Greyhound Dreams of Spring. With bare, winter branches trailing behind him, this greyhound dreams of of warmer days to come. Find it here.

I've also been working on printable photo cards for the holiday DIY'er. You can print these on your own at home or use a specially-designed template to send to Moo for professional printing, where you can add a customized message of your own and get free envelopes with your order. Being the greyhound-obsessive I am, a couple of the cards feature those sweet faces, which really shouldn't come as a surprise. Check 'em out below and click on the image to go directly to the item in the shop.


In a previous life, I was a graphic designer and like to keep up with the programs in a "use it or lose it" sort of way, so I had fun creating a couple of typographic printable cards for New Year's Eve or just a fun holiday party. Again, you can print on your own or send to Moo for a no-hassle experience. Click on the images below to view them in the shop.

A card for the champagne connoisseur in you.

A card for the champagne connoisseur in you.

Continuing with the bubbly theme, a set of five cards available for download...

I hope you like them! If you have any suggestions of things you'd like to see for sale or if you want to inquire about a custom order, drop me a line at amyrothphoto [at} I'd love to hear from you, even if it's just to say, "Hi."



How I Got the Shot — Beets

Hi, all! I'm going to start a regular-ish feature here showing the steps I take to get the shot I want. As anyone who photographs food knows, what you envision isn't always what you get right away, so I want to go through my process. I'm sure there are as many ways to approach this as there are photographers, so if you have a process that works better for you, please leave me a comment or email me. I'm always looking for ways to improve my work flow!

Today I'll be discussing the opening shot for my most recent Field to Feast post at Minimally Invasive. I'd say about 95% of the time I have a pretty clear vision of what I want the final shot on the blog to be and take concrete steps to get there. At other times, I really just want to eat before my food gets cold, so I snap a quick picture. But this shot was set in my mind from the start. What I wanted from this image was a dark, moody look with pops of color coming from the golden beets and an emphasis on the rough texture of the skin. 

Process Beets | Amy Roth Photo

1. My first shot. I set up next to a northwest-facing sliding glass door in late afternoon so I had moderate, diffused light for this shot. I shoot in manual mode (always with a tripod!) and measured the exposure with my light meter at 1/30 sec at f4. The X-Rite Color Checker you see in the shot, in combination with its Lightroom-compatible software, ensures proper white balance. 

2. With the beetroots facing the window in the first shot, I got exactly the opposite look I was going for, so I turned the board holding the beets 180 degrees to have the greens facing the window. In Lightroom, I increased highlights and darkened shadows just a tiny bit.

3. The green stems were a little too shaded, so I used a piece of white foam core board to reflect a little light back onto them. I held it up and to the left of the shot, about two feet away.  

4. Added a little more fill light by moving the foam core board closer, plus I wanted more of the shot in focus, so I changed my settings to 1/4 sec at f8.

5. The beet in the upper-left of the previous shot looked dry and was reflecting too much light, which draws the eye, so I turned it over to make sure it looked more like the rest of the beets in the shot.

6. Another styling change. I felt the golden beets were spaced too evenly to be visually pleasing, so I grouped them together at the bottom of the shot and about 2/3 of the way up. This is a pretty good example of the Rule of Thirds, as the top golden beet sits at the upper-left intersection of the imaginary rule of thirds grid. At this point, I was pleased with everything and took one final shot:

To get the exact feel I wanted, I made a few final adjustments in Lightroom. I took the Blacks and Shadows sliders down to deepen the dark parts of the image, and increased Clarity a touch. (This slider increases contrast in the midtones and can really make your images pop in a pleasing way if you use a light touch.) With my Nikon D700, oranges and reds can be overpowering, so I decreased the saturation a little bit overall, and also decreased just the yellow saturation to make the stems less muddy-looking. 

Of course, if you're really tweaking color, you need to make sure your monitor is calibrated. I used the Spyder system for a few years, but found it difficult to navigate and thought the calibration was inconsistent. I switched over to X-Rite's ColorMunki Display last year and love it beyond all measure. I recalibrate every two weeks unless I'm working on a big project, in which case I do it more frequently.

Overall, I was very happy with the way this photo turned out because it's exactly what I was looking for. I'd say this was pretty typical of the way I approach shots; I try to get it right in-camera as much as possible, then tweak it in post. Before putting the beets up on the blog, I added a Tom Robbins quote because TR makes life a little more enjoyable. 

Hope you found this useful! If you have any ideas for a future installment, or need clarification about anything, drop me a line.  



Black Forest Inn

A couple of months ago, I received an email from the editor of Edible Jersey asking if I was available to shoot at Black Forest Inn in Stanhope, NJ for their holiday issue. The story would feature three generations of the Aichem family who work there. Honestly, I couldn't jump at the opportunity quickly enough! I love shooting at restaurants, especially in the kitchen (where I make sure to stay out of the way as much as possible). We'd scheduled the shoot for a slow-ish day, so I got to chat for a minute here and there with Chef Heiner and his son Heinrich, who couldn't have been friendlier or more accommodating. 

And the food? Oh, my! I was able to sample the plate I shot for the article — braised pork cheeks, spaetzle and braised red cabbage — and can't wait to go back for more!  

A few of my favorite shots for the article are below. If you have a chance, do check out the Black Forest Inn!  

Chef Heiner | Black Forest Inn
Heinrich | Black Forest Inn
Barbara | Black Forest Inn.jpg
Sneak Peek | Black Forest Inn
Write it Right | Black Forest Inn
All Smiles | Black Forest Inn.jpg



Oldies but Goodies Adoptathon

The Oldies but Goodies Adoptathon at Rusty's Place in Ringwood, NJ showcased a lot of wonderful older animals that are available for adoption from area rescues. Featured organizations were Growl, Pets Alive, Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. and All Humane Animal Rescue, Inc.

Tasha was a particular favorite of mine. She's available for adoption through Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. For more information, click through the picture.

Tasha was a particular favorite of mine. She's available for adoption through Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. For more information, click through the picture.

I donate my time to rescue organizations when possible and love to hear the success stories when the animals find their forever homes. There are far too many unwanted dogs, cats and other animals crowding shelters. They're often there through no fault of their own and just want a family to love; that's why I'm so adamant about adopting, not shopping.

Chuck and Chris Coslet held the event at Rusty's Place in Ringwood. It's a great pet supply store with owners who really care about animals and know everyone who walks through their door! If you're in the area, check 'em out!

For more pictures from the adoptathon, complete with information about each animal pictured, visit the gallery here