American Photography 37

To say I’m happy to be chosen for American Photography is an understatement. I’m STOKED. I’ve admired the photographers who have graced the pages and online archive of AP for years. I’ve submitted work in the past, only to get the dreaded “Thanks for submitting but unfortunately…” emails in my inbox. I didn’t think it would happen this time but I gave it a shot. I was definitely surprised by the email this time around.

This image was a part of my Coffee Exploration series, born out of a need to beef up weak areas in my portfolio. I had plenty of drinks in my book but not enough in the coffee realm. And though I was asked to bid on coffee jobs, I was losing them to photographers who could show that area of expertise in their portfolios. Luckily, my food/prop stylist in Toronto, Nicole Billark, was also in need of coffee-centric images. So, we decided to use the slow winter months as our time to explore creative work.

I didn’t want to do the expected when it came to coffee imagery. I wasn’t looking for pristine white settings or marble surfaces or anything that felt like it had already graced in-store posters at Starbucks or Coffee Bean. I wanted something that had punch; that was bold and colourful and different. I became inspired by colour-blocking and Pantone’s 2021 Colours Of The Year—the yellow, not so much the grey—and started playing around with colour palettes. What pushed it over the edge and got me really excited were colour pairings from my childhood and beyond; that 70s, Indian vibe of turmeric yellow and bubblegum pink, salmon and evergreen, and teal and orange. This felt like the perfect direction to create something unexpected. I also wanted to play with shadows, incorporating them as a third colour and prop element. The loops of the handles I found especially intriguing. I pushed the light to elongate those shadows dramatically as if the souls of past cups were coming out of the surface.

For the image selected in AP37—dubbed “Caffeine Overload”—I show various coffee preparations simultaneously. Each cup was separately shot then composited and retouched in post by Anjana Chanayil. I wanted this to feel like a work of art that could also work in a commercial space.

So honoured to be included in this year’s American Photography! A big thank you to all the judges of AP 37!

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