Ashleigh Amoroso offers readers a glimpse into the other side of the lense of a food photographer and photography studio owner.
By Dawn Weston, Photos courtesy of Ashleigh Amoroso
Ashleigh Amoroso knew she wanted to be a photographer but never saw herself taking a traditional path to become one. Instead, while she was in school she began apprenticing for a wedding photographer. So when she moved to Austin in 2008, she knew one thing: She didn’t want to shoot weddings.
Amoroso took some time at her studio downtown to chat more about how her career in food photography came about.
AW: How did you get into food photography?
AA: For me, it was mostly all about the right place, right time. It was before social media. It was the height of food blogs. My photos weren’t good then, but I loved working with beautiful food and passionate chefs. There was so much joy and fun.
Instagram came out shortly after and a whole world opened up where you didn’t have to have an agent to work with big brands. I was working at a corporate job and wasn’t sure what it looked like, but I decided to take the leap. That was six years ago.
AW: What is it that you love about food photography?
AA: Food is a universal language across cultures and borders. It brings all different types of people together. Everyone has a story about food.
AW: Can you talk a bit about your new studio?
AA: I had been looking for the right space for a really long time. I was tired of expensive rentals and bare-bones spaces. The goal was to create a studio where I or someone else could lean in and focus on their creativity.
I was about to sign a lease on this cool historic loft apartment in Elgin, and then I heard about a beautiful old space downtown coming up and immediately went to see it. Within 24 hours I had signed the lease. I had big plans and wanted to move fast, but then the pandemic began and it took months to get it up and running. Now the kitchen space is done, and I have been shooting and also renting it out to “kitchen creatives” or for portrait studio space.
AW: What is your typical non-shoot day like?
AA: I’m a mom, so it usually starts early—[with]someone peeling back my eyelids—and getting ready for school. We head out to daycare drop-off, and then I’m off to the studio, arriving to tackle admin work, answering emails and working on invoicing. There is also coordinating with my team on edits or production planning for the next shoot. The production schedule is intricate because you have to plan based on lots of details like how long the food will look good. These days it’s also managing studio rentals, promoting and providing information space.
AW: Who are some of your larger commercial clients?
AA: Freebirds, Patron, Target, Delta—that was a crazy shoot. I was on the inaugural flight from Detroit to Tokyo, basically hung out in first class to shoot the food and the experience.
AW: How did you snag Magnolia Table?
AA: Honestly, the community [of food photographers]is pretty small, so once you do start to work with bigger brands, what happens is their PR agencies will add you to their roster and recommend you, and that is what happened. They called, liked my work and bam!
AW: Any good Chip Gaines stories?
AA: [On] one of my first days shooting with them, we were shooting the cooking show. Joanna was making lasagna and she was cracking eggs. Chip walked right in, picked up the bowl and drank it! I was laughing so hard that the camera was shaking.
AW: Any advice for the aspiring food photographer?
AA: In general, photography and the demand for digital imagery for brands these days is insatiable. There is room for everyone. And with food, there aren’t as many people in that space. Just go and start shooting your favorite bakery or restaurant and sharing your work. There are always smaller businesses that can use images, and you’ll get better along the way.
When people ask me how to get a client like Magnolia, I tell them I sat down and dismantled what I thought I needed to do to get to that place. I wanted it, believed I could do it and tried to communicate and create community and connections. It’s terrifying. Especially when you start to say no to someone who doesn’t fit into that goal. Especially when time is money and now you have to turn this into a business and a profit. It’s scary. But when you open yourself up for the things that align, they do come.
What was your major in college?
I studied political science, and yes, that’s when I was working alongside a wedding photographer.
More Ashleigh Amoroso Studio clients:
One&Only Resort, Magnolia Table, and two Austin women-owned and -run businesses, Siete and Austin Baby Co.
Here are some of the people working behind the scenes as the core team of Ashleigh Amoroso Studio:
- Executive producer + associate photographer
- Digital tech
- Food stylists
- Agency for big bids, estimates and contracts