An Interview with Community Assignment Winner Janelle Folk
Every other Monday we assign a photography or retouching challenge to members of our private Facebook group The RGG EDU Community. Last week the assignment was to create a single food image using only natural light. After the ten day shoot period, we received 25 great submissions, one of which could not be ignored.
After narrowing down the images to our three favorites, the final decision had to made based on concept and creativity. Janelle Folk's submission became the clear winner. Her concept and creativity were unmatched and beautifully executed. Her image was simple. It had great lines, movement, color, and composition. I caught up with her this week to learn more about the image and how she created it:
Tell us about yourself and your photography.
My name is Janelle Folk and I am from Okeechobee FL. I specialize in wedding photography and videography. I also offer lifestyle portraiture for couples, families, seniors, etc. Photography is so much more to me than a job. If I'm not working you can find me completely submerged in what I’m most passionate about. This usually involves urban exploring, storm chasing, control burns, concerts, etc. This is an area where I can explore using darker tones, and really let go of any guidelines I would usually keep in line for business work.
What brought you to RGG EDU, and which tutorials have you watched?
I am a huge Renee Robyn fan. Her work is so inspiring to me. Composite photography is something very special to me, and an area of my work that I really need to put more time into. When you guys posted about having her on for a new tutorial I immediately bought Composite Portraiture at my first chance.
There was a point in the tutorial where she mentioned how discouraged she was getting in her own work, and even considered quitting. Then she tried a shooting something completely different than what she normally did, and it sparked new life back into her work. After this, I tried the same thing and it really helped me on so many levels to try and look at things with a fresh mind and think out the box from what I would normally do.
Tell us about your image. Does it have a title? What inspired it?
This image was created for a commercial shoot at C&B Farms. Originally, we had planned to photograph the products at the farm, however I really wanted to be in control of every little aspect (the set, lighting, time restraints) so I pitched the idea of building a set instead. I felt for their website having the on-location shots next to set up product shots would be a fantastic contrast, and would set them apart more from their competitors who didn’t take advantage of this.
What did your production look like? How did it all come together?
The production for this shoot was quite involved. I wanted to create everything in the image myself. I went to Home Depot and bought a few boards and paint. I sanded everything and put a few coats of paint on them. I wanted light grey with a faded white look to it. To achieve the faded white I simply added white marks to the wet grey coat and blended them in with long paint strokes.
I wanted one vegetable for the main focus and lots of fresh herbs to fill in the frame. I had no idea where I was going with the composition. I would love to say this was completely planned out, but I just played around with some ideas I had in my head. I wanted to make sure what I was placing around the bowl wasn’t too much of a distraction but an addition to guiding your eye to the main focus. Since I needed a vegetable that was very vibrant, I chose these little baby eggplants pretty much immediately. I was in love with the pink/purple tones it brought to the grey set. I started placing it all onto the scene, and with a good amount of trial and error I thought the placement of the greens would be best to completely fill one side and kind of have the look of leaking out to the other side.
Last, I came across a belt in my home that really caught my eye with color and braided material. I sacrificed it for the good of the image and cut it up just enough to wrap around the bottom of the bunch. Once everything was set up I sprayed a little bit of water on the baby eggplants (just enough to catch shape from the window light) and I was ready to start shooting!
Did you learn anything creating this image?
This was my very first food photography shoot, so I learned many invaluable lessons. I am used to building sets and focusing on details, but this one really took all of my knowledge and challenged me to keep asking myself “what would make this even better?” I am completely blown away that my image was chosen to be featured. As artists it’s difficult to share what we pour our hearts into. Maybe it’s a fear of rejection. This opportunity was a huge boost in confidence to keep chasing projects outside of my comfort zone.
What are you currently working on? What are your goals for 2018?
Between client work I’m working on a huge fashion event with a very challenging theme. I am trying to expand my music portfolio as well. I recently covered the Okeechobee Music Festival. It was one of the most exhilarating feelings I’ve ever had. I would love to follow that feeling and eventually be hired to cover similar events. This shoot for C&B Farms will also change my focus a bit. I will be working on building my product photography portfolio too in pursuit of larger commercial jobs.
Where can we see more of your work?
Instagram (Personal Work)
Vimeo (Video Work)