ASMP member Yasmin Alishav recently relocated to Portland, OR. She is a food photographer, food stylist and trained chef. She started ASMP as a member of LA and reconnected with ASMP in Portland because she recognizes that a high level of community involvement is good for her business and because volunteer work is deeply important to her. She is a self-described voracious networker and believes every encounter is valid.
Yasmin attended Le Cordon Bleu in LA and then later attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. She worked as a restaurant and catering chef while she was in school. While freelancing with a food stylist, she developed an appreciation for a lifestyle that allows her to have a completely different experience every time she goes to work. The nine-to-five thing didn’t appeal to her nor did the grueling lifestyle of a chef.
Being the recipient of the Young Photographers Alliance WorldStudio/AIGA Scholarship Award and consequent Mentoring Program is what introduced her to ASMP. She was flown to New York where she officially received the award and met ASMP New York President, Stephen Mallon, at the event. The LA Chapter later invited local award recipients to speak at a Chapter event. Alishav was impressed with the quality of the members she met during both encounters and later joined ASMP in LA where she also served on the Board of Directors.
“The idea of chef/photographers used to be unusual but it is starting to become more common. I try not to play both roles on my projects, but having this dual background helps me know what I need in a food stylist for each project. They can get the food organized and on the plate so I can concentrate on shooting it” says Alishav.
Cookbooks and Contracts
Alishav is currently working on a keto/paleo cookbook project where she is the chef, food stylist and photographer. The author creates the recipes and sends them to Alishav who then prepares and shoots the completed recipe. When I asked about how “real” the food is in her projects, she assured me that she does very little staging since her esthetic is “more of a natural farm to table look”.
As of the writing of this article, Alishav was drafting the master shopping list for the sixty recipes in the cookbook project. As she groups recipes together for the shoot, she plans a six to eight-day shoot where she’ll complete around ten recipes a day. “Certain things I might need to practice. There are keto paleo noodles that use psyllium fiber that I might need to try a few times, but I can sear scallops in my sleep” says Alishav.
Her process involves using a lot of natural light. The studio she works in has great windows, providing the natural light she prefers. “I shoot everything directly to a computer so the client and I can see it right away. I need to be able to see the details. I use my 5D Mark II, with a 50mm lense, a few bounce cards, some fill cards, maybe some diffusion but not a whole lot of gear” says Alishav.
Alishav has learned that when creating her contracts, she makes sure that only the shots that the client uses in their publications are embargoed. She retains the rights to any process shots or alternative shots. The end of April is her first deadline and the cookbook will be available in December of 2017.
Networking and Social Media Philosophy
“For me, networking is a button that is always on. I’m conscious of not overlooking people if they don’t seem like they have something to offer me. Every connection I make is valid” says Alishav.
She is channeling her energy into bringing diversity to the Oregon Chapter by developing a scholarship program that would grant recipients access to ASMP’s educational resources. Her idea is to provide this access to photographers in her community who may not otherwise be able to benefit from them. She’s also working on recreating the Ladies Power Brunch event that she conceived back in LA to create a safe space for women in the image-making industry to network. “It was a powerful event and we purposely didn’t wear name tags so people would just connect as people. I cried, others cried, and I want to create that same experience in Portland” says Alishav.
Her idea of making connections and making a difference carries through to social media. “If you remind people that you are around, then they will remember you when they need you. That’s how my brain works. If I have a rapport with someone online – even if it’s just liking something they post – it jogs my memory when I need them” says Alishav.
Consequently, she uses her website to illustrate more high-end work and Instagram as a place to showcase her “B” sides. “My website is where I convey hire me for a lot of money and Instagram is where I can say look how cool this stuff is.”
- Get involved in the local ASMP Chapter. “Not only does it make the people running the local chapter feel amazing because they get new energy and ideas, but you can become part of the resource community. Your suggestions will become highly valued and you can make things happen” says Alishav.
- Network with an open heart. There’s enough work to go around.
- Leverage social media to remind everyone of what you are doing. Results might not be immediately obvious but you are creating small reminders.
- The biggest thing photographers want is access to things and people that will help their business. If you create opportunities for that to happen, you will make a difference.
- Structure your contracts so you have rights to the work your client doesn’t use.
Yasmine Alishav can be found at http://www.yasminalishav.com/. Images ©Yasmin Alishav Photography.