We had the good fortune of connecting with Sharon Benton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sharon, what makes you happy? Why?
I love telling stories through photography. Sometimes it’s a story about a meal I cooked or the way the sun light comes through the window and hits a glass just right, or working on a recipe for my family cookbook. I also keep this in mind when I’m working for a restaurant – what’s their story? What’s their vibe? And how can I translate that?
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve had an on-again off-again affair with photography since the 80s. When I started, of course, I was working with film. I learned to develop my own black and white photos, and I still miss the quiet and peacefulness of the darkroom. Slipping the paper into the developer and watching the image come to life is still magical to me! When I first started out I loved landscape and abstract photography. And I’ve had the good fortune to travel a lot, so I was really into travel photography for a while. In 2016, I took a six-month intensive cooking course through Rouxbe.com. In order to be graded, we had to photograph the dishes we cooked and submit them online. It was then I fell in love with food photography. I started photographing my own dishes and dishes for a friend’s a food blog. I eventually started getting gigs from bloggers, restaurants, and food makers. I’ve recently branched out into product photography as well. I’ve learned that I enjoy photographing the food of others more than my own food, because there’s always something new and exciting to learn, and I like the challenge of revealing the visual story of a person or place through their food.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I think we’d start local and have a casual meal at Vintage Pizza in Chamblee, followed by ice cream right across the street at Frosty Caboose. It’s an actual caboose in a parking lot and it’s a Chamblee icon. When the weather’s warm, there’s always a line waiting to get a scoop of this locally-made ice cream. No trip to Chamblee would be complete without visiting one of our many antique stores. My favorite place just happens to be named – My Favorite Place! It’s a really fun place to poke around – they have a great variety and are always getting new things in. I find a lot of my photography props like dishes and silverware there. Somewhere along the way we’d pop into Lenox Cupcakes for a sweet treat, and later in the day head to 57th Fighter Group for a beverage or two and dinner on the patio. 57th is really unique – it’s on the grounds of Peachtree DeKalb Airport and has a WW II theme. You can watch the planes take off and land while you eat. Further afield I love Krog Street market and Ponce City market – both historical buildings that have been repurposed with shops and restaurants. Ponce City Market is in the former Sears building – fun fact: my mom worked there in the customer service department in the 50’s as a letter writer!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m going to go way back here and say my first photography teacher Jerry Mucklow. He taught photography and darkroom. There were 6 or 7 who took the entire course together, and it was also the first class Jerry ever taught, so it was all pretty special. He really energized us with his love of photography, his technical knowledge, and critique, and that’s what started me on this journey. I was also influenced by the work of food photographer Andrew Scrivani. I posted one of my early food photos on Instagram in which I tried to emulate Mr. Scrivani’s style, and I tagged him. Looking back now, it was a terrible photo. but he liked it, and I was thrilled! That small act encouraged me to keep shooting food.