Honey, you are so sweet!

I just finished an amazing social media photograph deck for Kate Seymour, of “Hey, Red” for Pacific Resources International. The best part about the project was learning about the amazing health benefits of Manuka honey and all of the things you can do with it.

This is my second project with Kate and I love working with her because she is so good at developing a look and color scheme for a brand, listing her photo needs, and communicating great feedback.

Our process was simple. Kate and the PRI team developed a Pinterest Board of all of their favorite photos about honey so I could instantly see what they liked. Kate described the brand colors which set us up for success with a cohesive deck. And then we developed a google spreadsheet for the whole team to list all of the items to be photographed, along with the props, special notes, and combinations. One of her best ideas was to use honey and the PRI margarita salt in the margarita – YUMMY! I developed the recipe list and recipes, curated the props, received and prepared the products, and then got to work in my studio to give them their own unique photo creations, using their product, tastes, brand style, and colors. I loved working with their team and products so much that I delivered double the photos required!

I came up with many ways to use the Manuka honey along with their New Zealand certified fleur de sel salt mixtures including: infusions, teas, toasts, ice creams, smoothies, pancakes, and much more! Take a look at how my studio styled and shot all of their delicious products and came up with recipes and photos for their social media channels:

All items are shot with my new Phase One technical camera for superb focus, resolution, and color! It is my best work so far!

Check out our social media packages!

Let’s work together to create the perfect catalog or social media deck for your product or service!



6 Steps to Spectacular Photoshoot

6 Steps to Spectacular Photoshoot

The most successful photo shoots occur when everyone has done their preparation before the shoot.

Sign up for our newsletter and get a free PDF guide for the “6 Steps to A Spectacular Photoshoot, along with a shot list template. 

1. Call the shots

If you would like to shoot more than 10 items, it is very helpful to have a shot list. The items can be listed by set or by order of importance. By having a shot list in Google Drive we can collaborate and plan what is needed to make your photos look their very best. We also won’t forget to photograph something.

2. Plan a good mood

I always advise clients to make a Pinterest board with photos that have their desired look. Every client has an image in their mind of how they want their product to look. It helps when all stakeholders know and agree on the look before the day of the shoot. Maybe your look is dark and cinematic or maybe it has a lot of white or it could have a set of brand colors. Let’s discover it! It helps if you and your partners and colleagues agree before we start.

Branding is always important. By developing a mood board and planning your shots, your branding will come shining through!

3. Curate the props

Props, products, and lighting are all equally important when it comes to making a brilliant shot. By developing a look ahead of time we are able to curate the props and products so they are ready for the shoot. Time can be spent tweaking the set and making the perfect light instead of running madly around looking for more props!

4. Find the talent

I always suggest ModelMayhem.com or social media channels if you want to hire local models for a great price. I have model releases and guidelines to help find and manage the talent.

5. Add the polish

Styling food and products for the camera is my forte. I am also happy to collaborate with stylists, creative directors, graphic designers, marketing teams, artists, and chefs. Preparing food and products for the camera is always much different than for the customer! By developing a mood board, shot list, and prop list we can ensure a great style for your shots.

If we are shooting products it is essential that they arrive to the studio or location in time to be inventoried and cleaned or prepared for the camera.

This bread bakery did a stellar job to prepare for a multi-day catalog shoot. They thought about the look that they wanted which was all white. They had everything organized and ready including all of the props. Someone who was familiar with the products was there to help identify everything. And the key stakeholders were on the premises to provide their valuable feedback. The photos were used in a print catalog and on a website.

6. Be there!

The most successful photo shoots always have the company art director. producer or owner on location for valuable feedback during the shoot. If that is not possible we can always text or email the first set of photos to you so we can make any changes for you. Successful photos are a team effort!

Let’s work together! Tell us about your project:

Photo for Caviar Affair Magazine Cover

Expression Food Owner and Photographer, Judy Doherty, styled and photographed the front cover and the Perfect Pairings page for the holiday edition of Caviar Affair Magazine.

The cover photo features gorgeous, sparkling Saint-Louis Crystal, Swarovski Crystal, Ketel One Vodka, and Paramount Imperial Osetra Caviar. This still life shot was done in the Expression Food studio.

The Perfect Pairing page features a recipe and photo created and styled by Judy for the Ayate Anejo Tequila. This shot was also created in the Expression Food studio. It was an honor to work with the design team for Caviar Affair Magazine!

Judy researched that the best food to pair with this sipping tequila is citrus and seafood and since the agave for the tequila is grown near Jalisco, the obvious choice is a delicious ceviche made with citrus, tuna, chiles, and prawns. It is all topped with Paramount Caviar. The caramel flavor of the aged sipping tequila pairs beautifully with the succulent seafood and blend of citrus flavors that are all brought together with a little heat and spice from the fresh chili peppers.

Food Photography With Style

One of the things I enjoy the most about my work is styling the food and dishes. I have found that my clients really value this creative vision and service.

Recently my work has had so much creative opportunity.

I created a ton of recipes for Partner’s Crackers for their marketing department.

Here are a few favorites and you can see more here with the recipe cards that were created. I have been busy with a lot of new work and have updated my portfolio. Further it has a whole new look and organization structure thank you to the expertise of Molly Glynn at Wonderful Machine!

Bread bakery shows off its artisan loaves

Wildflour Bakery and Cafe in Agoura Hills, CA, asked me to shoot their entire catalog of beautiful artisan rolls and breads. The owners have a lot of pride in their work and I feel very honored to have captured it as their photographer. I styled and photographed the breads on location at their bakery. Wildflour supplies high-quality breads, rolls, sandwich loaves, breakfast pastries, Challah, and French bread baguettes to Trader Joe’s, Four Seasons Hotel, along with their own Wildflour Bakery Cafe, and many restaurants in Los Angeles.

The owner wanted his breads and rolls to show the unique artisan style and high quality. We chose a white look so that the products would really stand out and have a cohesive look for the website and print catalog.

Here are a few highlights.

Rolls in baskets:

Sandwich rolls:


Artisan loaves:


Window Poster Success

Posters photographed and designed by Expression Food

Grill Spot Restaurant in San Francisco decided to show off their fine Japanese style tapas menu items in their window. I shot their menu along with a hero shot of the customer’s favorite dishes. The goal for the poster was to show off their fine menu and grab hungry patrons walking along the busy city street.

We decided to make the 48”x36” poster double sided. The food hero shot faces out to the street with the byline, “A wonderful selection of meats, sauces, and Japanese tapas created for your eating pleasure!” This shows off the wonderful variety of grilled items, tapas, and ramen that is offered on the menu.

The back side to the poster is a photo that I took of their beautiful fireplace that dances and warms the atmosphere of the dining room. It adds ambience and branding to the dining room.

The result? The kitchen has more orders for the dishes on the poster!


College Pizza Restaurant

Photos shot with iPhone #nofilter

Sammy G’s Pizza should be a textbook example of a restaurant that does so many things right! Their first big success is correct and successful concept for location. They are near SJSU in San Jose and have a total fun menu and appeal for college students. The big outdoor patio is a fun gathering place! But they don’t stop there!

They let the patrons make their own pizzas, which results in much social media success and exposure with the conconctions! https://www.instagram.com/sammygspizza

The titles and varieties of the pizzas are second to none! Mother Cluckers is a BBQ chicken pizza while Bahn Mi Love features Vietnamese ingredients. Farmers Market pizza with fresh veggies was my favorite!

And there is a breakfast section with eggs on pizzas called Wakey Bakey to capture the same customers for another meal period!

Plus they have invented totchos, which are potato tot nachos. And their buffalo wings have crispy carrots in the little fryer basket that serves them. This is so simple but a very great presentation!

They also have daily specials that rotate through their menu and are posted up front. An LED panel shows photos throughout the business hours.

Their pizza box that is used for all to go and delivery app orders has their branding and URL.

Bravo! No wonder they are busy with a great Yelp score!

New Graphic Design Service

Expression Food is proud to expand services to include graphic design and printing specifically for restaurants and food companies.

Our customers want to convert their photos that we have taken for them into wall decals, posters, window graphics, photo slideshows for LED flat panel monitors, menu boards, floor decals, banners, and much more. So we expanded our services to make their life easier! They can rest assured that they are getting a great design, affordable printing, and a high quality printed product very fast.

We can design all of your in-house marketing and display items and have them delivered right to your door. All you have to do is choose and approve the designs we email to you. And you are done! We do all of the work and your printed items arrive on your doorstep very fast.

We have vetted several designers and U.S. printing facilities that print all of these materials at wholesale prices and deliver 100% quality every time on time. It takes years to find these vendors and to develop working relationships with them along with an understanding of how to design materials for fantastic printed results! And we have done that successfully for years in the education market. Let us do this work for you!

If you need:

  • decals that stick to walls, windows, or floors to attract foot traffic and upsell options
  • a standing banner that announces your new establishment or happy hour
  • posters about your menu or services
  • web posters and banners to make you look great
  • stickers for giveaways
  • table tents about menu specials
  • table top signs that show great menu items
  • menu boards
  • LED displays

We have you covered! Read more and see pricing here:


Contact us for a free quote!

Some recent projects:


The “how and why”

“There were several converging factors that brought me to this amazing path as a food photographer. ” Judy Doherty

When I went to school at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, to become a chef, I took a part time job assisting the CIA’s food photographer. The projects for cookbooks, posters, marketing materials, and stock photography were all endless and amazing. My first lesson about a camera was on a medium format Hasselblad. I worked long and hard to style shots and marveled at the beautiful light from the strobes. After I graduated, I became a pastry chef with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, and I kept photographing for myself to build a professional portfolio.

I got a promotion to one of the best Hyatt Resorts as an executive pastry chef at the age of 29. I created and styled many desserts for upscale clients, fundraisers, magazines, and books. And DuPont hired me to do a big series on desserts made with tofu that appeared gourmet and delicious. I retired from Hyatt at the age of 34 and founded Food and Health Communications where I created and photographed many editorial projects and art posters, all of which are still successfully sold online. I chose an academic route to further my formal education with art, graphic design, and photography at UC Berkeley Extension, where I completed their Visual Art Certificate program. My favorite professor summed it up best, “you are very good at arranging and shooting food!” My graduating thesis and portfolio was about farmer’s markets and the beauty of locally grown, seasonal foods. I learned the theory of color, values, composition, and cohesion for visual art and photography. I also learned how to retouch photos from an ad agency retoucher who was helping one of our instructors with our class. It was a fabulous journey! I accepted an offer to be a contract food photographer for Kodak, which means shooting hundreds of restaurants in the Bay Area for their clients. I was instantly in foodie heaven with all of the various ethnic dishes and local foods that I get to shoot. Plus I enjoy telling so many “visual” stories. But the one moment that sold me on this path, and made me fall in love with my work, happened on an early morning job where I was photographing a Mexican restaurant’s menu for a delivery app. The chef worked very hard and put a lot of pride in his work. He was straining to put out ten different dishes made from scratch for my shot, on top of getting ready for his day. He said, “this is a lot of work!”

I admired his dishes because they have the aura of a chef’s hand and spirit with hand-chopped vegetables, herbs, and swirls of a simple sauce.

I styled his food using his favorite ingredients.  And when I showed him the photos in the back of my camera, his face lit up like a kid’s at Christmas and he said, “muchos gracias!!” (por nada!) So I was hooked because I felt that I made a difference in his life and business. I still feel that way on every job.

Retouching Food Photos

The goal of every one of our photo sessions is to make every detail so perfect that you do not need to retouch. There is nothing like outputting the perfect shot with little effort. It is easier for us, cheaper for the client, and the image makes us all so happy when it pops!

The motto is always the same, “do not PLAN to PhotoShop.” It takes more time to photoshop a splatter of gravy off of a plate than it does to change or wipe the plate.

The aspects of every photo shoot that can be controlled are composition, light, style, and neatness. Neatness can never be over-stated. We keep cloths for little spills and encourage and use gloves to avoid fingerprints on glass surfaces. Any surface that is shiny has to have extra care. And black plates also have to have extra care because while they are beautiful they often show every scratch and spill.

But sometimes there are things out of everyone’s control that are not perfect. Like an exit sign over a beautiful table or a big metal oven bar that doesn’t look right next to a golden roasted chicken in a rotisserie oven shot. Some windows cannot be cleaned on site because no one can reach them and they did not think to call the cleaner. And metal always looks old unless it is brand new. Glass gets extra reflection marks because we cannot use polarization film on every light source. Takeout bags or containers sometimes have tiny dents or wrinkles and they need a little smoothing. The chicken was roasted perfectly but one of the drumsticks is missing a patch of skin. You filled all 15 of the beer glasses to show off your new IPA beer bar and the colors are gorgeous in the frosted glasses but just one of the glasses has a fingerprint near the bottom and no one saw it. Such is the life of working on location in a live restaurant! We have fixed all of these easily! We have you covered.

It is good to know that our retouching skills for food are stellar so when they are needed in situations like these so you will have your very best shot!

Here are some examples of our retouching skills as before and after:

Read and see more here.