This month, we couldn’t be more excited to feature the incredible work of our client, commercial food and beverage photographer Felicia Perretti. She is located in New York City with a specialty in advertising, packaging, editorial, and video for food and beverage clients across the country. Felicia’s extensive passion for the food and beverage industry remains a constant in her daily life and has guided her professional career.
Describe your approach to photography— What makes your work unique?
What makes my work unique is the attention to detail. What makes the final image the hero is the lighting, and styling of the food or beverage. There’s a balance with my team, the energy on set, and the final vision that comes together in one shot.
What inspires you? Who are your influences?
I always had a passion for food and a concentration in the packaging industry. I worked my way through high school and college at my local supermarket. It came full circle when I graduated college. Working there and walking the aisles at the supermarket looking at new packaging shots on the shelves I wanted to shoot inspired me. I loved it there and it always intrigued me how the customers picked what they liked from the shelves and why they chose that. I’ve always been influenced by the classics; Edward Weston, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn.
What was your first camera?
A Canon 35mm camera from my uncle.
Can you think of the first time you realized the camera you owned was holding you back?
Not specifically. I had goals of mine I wanted to achieve as a professional photographer and I knew one day I wanted the best tool and most important tool to me to get there.
Describe your experience with DT and why you chose to shoot with Phase One gear.
They’re great people! I knew Wayne before he joined DT, and excited to see he was there. Also, Lance knows everything about Phase One and made it easy for me to see what would be the best choice. I looked at other medium format systems but Phase One won me over! Great camera, never a doubt.
How did you respond to industry changes during COVID-19?
My husband Joe and I literally got back from our amazing trip to Australia on March 13th, 2020. Then the world stopped… I think like many photographers, they might of panicked, I did my best to shoot personal work to keep my mind off things. Being so close to the restaurant industry and their business completely stopping I tried to come up with something that could give back to the restaurant industry.
I created colorful food face masks. No one else was doing anything like that. I came up with the idea probably 2-3 weeks after we got back. I didn’t try re-inventing myself, I just kept practicing the craft. Fear can crumble a business or person. You have to stay focused and push forward where you can.
Tell us about one of the photos you’ve provided. You can describe the technical choices you made or the journey you took leading up to the photo or a combination of both.
The overhead shot of the dips on the table spread was a fun collaboration with fellow creatives, food stylist Charlotte Omne´s, and prop stylist Paola Andrea. This shoot was discussed and planned well in advance. We didn’t just want to create a beautiful shot, but the actual scene from each corner was thoroughly planned. This shot can be broken down into 6 perfect squares for Instagram, something clients use a lot more of.
What was your most difficult project?
I think the type of work I do is more difficult than some other food and beverage photography. It’s very technical. I think what is difficult and is learned over time is the patience you have on set with getting that shot perfect for the client.
If you had to do a project using the bare minimum of equipment, what would you bring?
Phase One with 120 macro lens, 1 strobe, Black and white v flat.
What’s the most interesting/surprising/invaluable thing you keep in your equipment bag?
Dots and Fingers.
How did you make the transition to professional photography, and how did making a living from photography impact your style of shooting?
I went to school for photography and knew early on I wanted to become a professional food photographer. I went the traditional route through photo assisting while working on my portfolio and target audience. I worked really hard and saved my money to make sure I was in a good place financially to make a strong transition without the worry. I think what’s really important in starting your business is to keep your overhead low and save early on as you get your career started. I’ve always been true to my personal style and how I want my photography to be perceived. With constant practice and testing over the years, my style has become more fine-tuned.
What is one thing you wish you knew when starting out?
In art school, your business classes are very minimal if any. I wish I had more of that when I was younger. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial side so business came easy to me, but still something good to learn.
Do you have a “passion project” that you enjoy working on in your free time?
Food photography is my passion. I try to plan an out-of-the-box conceptual project that involves food every year, and I like to produce them in a series of shots. I actually need to start working on a new one.
What’s your favorite activity or hobby outside of photography that you’ve experienced recently?
Since COVID, I got back into piano playing. Also hoping to get back into a bowling league. I had my sprint triathlon from 2020 deferred because of COVID and training for that this coming July.
Want to see more of Felicia’s work?