Luisa is a food and lifestyle photographer, based in Sydney, Australia, who strives to capture images that exude warmth, simplicity, honesty, and connection. Her work has been published in numerous print and online publications, including Kinfolk magazine, Frankie magazine, and Food & Wine magazine, just to name a few. When she is not photographing, Luisa is collaborating with other creatives to hold food photography and styling workshops.
I am so happy to have Luisa Brimble of lbrimble.com joining me here on the show today.
(*All photos below are Luisa’s.)
On Her Photography Journey:
(Photo by Hugo Sharp)
I basically started at being a wedding and portrait photographer. When Kinfolk magazine came along in 2011, that’s when I fell in love with the whole gathering and all the food. I started shooting food and mainly gatherings. It basically started when I started doing the Kinfolk gatherings in Australia and organizing workshops here and there. Since then, it just fell in and then I started shooting for Broadsheet in Sydney. They’re like the guide to where you want to eat around Sydney and Melbourne. They didn’t pay me a lot of money, but I actually did say to people that I think it’s like baptism by fire. If you wanted to get your foot in the door in photography, you do this stuff to get your name out there. I would not have gotten my first cookbook photography, without the experience of working with Broadsheet.
This is really amazing, and kind of story that I actually tell people every time I do workshops. This is the very first cookbook that I photographed, Community by Arthur Street Kitchen cookbook. Actually, I met Hetty McKinnon. This is the first cover. There’s only 1,000 copies of this being printed. I think in a space of three weeks or a month or something like that, the book was sold out, and then it was picked up by a publisher called Plum Books. This is the second edition of the book, and I think it’s about 60,000 copies now that’s been printed in Australia. So we photographed the cookbook, and her second cookbook in New York, which is called Neighbourhood. It’s actually going to be released in September, which is really exciting.
Anyway, because of the Community cookbook, because of love, I said to Hetty when I first met her photographing for Broadsheet, and we just started talking. We hit it off. We talked about…and I think the one common thread that we talked about is because we love Kinfolk. I loved it, and she loved the aesthetic, too, at the time. We were talking about it and then all of a sudden she said, “I really want to publish my own cookbook.” I said, “My God! I would love to shoot it. I will shoot it, I will shoot it for love.” There was money involved when we photographed this. It was both our time, her time and she paid for all the ingredients and her time cooking it. Anyway, I think when the book was released and it was sold out, it was just the biggest opportunity that I’ve ever had.
Then all of a sudden I started shooting. I shot a cookbook for Penguin, Lantern. It was one of the MasterChef guys. I’ve never been in such a legit photo shoot, where we had a stylist and we had props. It was an amazing experience. Since then, that’s when I just said, “No, I’m not shooting weddings anymore and I just want to concentrate on food.” So since then, I’ve just basically done cookbooks, shooting cookbooks and shooting food or shooting for small businesses which I love. Just doing lots of personal projects.
On Cooking and Food:
I could never be a food blogger, and the only reason for that is because I can’t concentrate on doing two things. I would definitely prefer to be behind the lens. This is why I was so glad I met Sarah Glover because I kind of could blog through her because she cooks all the food and I shoot it. I always wanted to have a food blog, but now everything is just that way. But I do cook at home, but I can’t create recipes. I get inspired, but it’s only to share around the house. If I do have a recipe book in front of me and I don’t like one of the ingredients, I would usually just swap it or kind of change a little bit of the method.
On Hosting Styling and Photography Workshops:
I think the first workshop was kind of initiated by the fact that I just wanted to collaborate with other people. My first ever workshop would’ve probably had been with Beth Kirby, Local Milk, which I organized here in Sydney at Glenmore House. That’s probably about three years ago now, and we did probably about three workshops. So she came back to Sydney. Since then Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle et Vanille invited me to teach a workshop in Seattle, which is like, “What? Are you serious? It’s like, Aran. Why would she even ask me to come to Seattle? Then since then, we’re like…I collaborate a lot with Sophie Hansen, Local Is Lovely, because they have a big property where she grew up with her mom. She’s got this property about two hours’ drive from Sydney, and she actually teaches art classes as well.
But it actually accommodates probably about 15 people, and we were able to do the workshops there. That’s how I started doing a collab. The one thing that Sydney is really hard to kind of organize a workshop for is finding the right venue. It’s really hard because it’s very expensive. By the time you organize a workshop and work out all the logistics and the people and the food, and the scenes and the props and everything, to really make money off workshops, you should be charging about $3,000. But we were charging half of that, especially for a Local Is Lovely workshop. Because, obviously, we didn’t have to pay so much with the accommodation, and that really helped a lot.
It’s basically giving people the chance of going to a workshop that is so affordable, and it’s three days. I like that workshop, because I feel like if we do two and a half days, we’re kind of giving people a lot more value for their money. And it’s really nice to get to know everyone. It’s like I say this a lot to people, I meet the next person I’m collaborating with at a workshop. I’ve met so many already that’ve been to a second shooting with me or I mentored them and all that sort of stuff. I do a little bit of a workshop now with Annabelle Hickson of The Dailys where it’s actually 10 hours’ drive. It’s all the way down to the country, 10 hours’ drive from Sydney, but yet, people still go there.
I think one part of why we do workshops is, this isn’t money making. We’re not making money off it. We have a big team of people and only because we like to hang out with people that we really like working with. I think it’s all about relationships as well. So collaborating with a lot of people is what I love doing best. This is why workshops happen. I only have two left this year. Next month we have Molly Yeh coming. This is with Local is Lovely with Sophie Hansen. So we’re now in full swing to kind of plan what we’re going to be doing next year in 2017. I think the plan is, hopefully, fingers crossed, there will be workshops in Europe. And that’s the plan. So we’re working on that.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
Chef’s Table! But I do love the local ones, the Australian local ones. The ones that I really love is, I know there’s River Cottage and there is also Mathew Evans’ show, Gourmet Farmer. Gourmet Farmer is my favorite show.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
I love following Hugo and Elsa and Local Is Lovely, obviously Sophie Hansen. I love her food blog. My Darling Lemon Thyme, obviously. Also Cook Republic. I also do love Local Milk, Lean & Meadow is great. Matters of the Belly, obviously, Noha. There are so many out there. I think once you can go from one place, it just spreads out. Those are some of my definite favorite blogs.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat that make you happy?
Number one is Lisa Marie Corso. She’s the editor or managing editor of The Design Files. I know it’s more interior. It’s not really food. But her personal Instagram makes me laugh all the time. I love it. Just really good with the way, with her words and all that. The Dailys, really beautiful aesthetics and country life and all the things that she shares. Amelia Fullarton, amazing work. Again, it’s not food. I find my inspiration not necessarily with food, and I think I feel like Instagram is so bombarded with so much food now.
I just want to get away from so much of that, and then follow people who are actually amazing at capturing the light and the shadows and all that. Saskia Wilson, she does fashion. She does a lot of fashion, but again, I follow them because of the way they work with the lines and the elements of design. Oli Sansom, again amazing portrait photography. Tim Coulson because of his family and the way he just shares his life and love of life.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
I would probably say this one plate. The plate that…when my mother-in-law passed away probably about five years ago now when they sold everything, and they sold the property, and I said the only thing that I want from that house is the dining, everyday plates. Whenever we come and visit, an everyday plate. I think there was only one plate that was left. It was rescued and that was it. It’s this really simple floral, and I love eating from it.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
Brussel sprouts. I’ve never really been introduced to that, only quite recently, actually. But Hetty McKinnon made me love it. I think when we were shooting for her cookbook, she made me look at it differently. It’s such a bitter vegetable, but she just put it in an oven, roasted it and comes out and it’s just really amazing. It just brings out the sweetness in it, sweet and bitter kind of thing.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
Oh my gosh. Nigel Slater. When I buy cookbooks, though, I only really look at it for photos. Sometimes I do read…I read the recipes and just go through. I really like the way he just explains it. It’s just straight to the point. No beating around the bush, simplicity. I like it, just simple. It doesn’t have to be complicated. This is A Table in the Orchard by Michelle Crawford. I love it because it’s all about her stories and also her favorite recipes. It’s a beautiful book. Again, can’t go past Arthur Street Kitchen and Emiko Davies’ cookbook, Florentine. She now lives in Italy. And yes, there are some amazing, really great recipes there. Some of the pastas and some of the really nice cakes and biscuits. Again, also photographed by one of my favorite photographers, which is Lauren Bamford.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
You know what? I don’t have a favorite album or a favorite theme, but I do listen to Spotify and then I put like a playlist on the 80s. Just listen to the 80s music. You know what? When I’m cooking, I actually don’t listen to music a lot. But I listen to podcasts like, The Dinner Special podcast. Boom!
On Keeping Posted with Luisa:
Definitely Instagram. I’m always just posting. If not, Snapchat. Same name, Luisa Brimble.