Month: May 2015

Pyrenees Café

The Pyrenees Café was originally opened in 1899 and has been an iconic Bakersfield establishment serving old-world Basque dishes from the very beginning. Recently (September of 2014) The Pyrenees Café has been rescued from decades of slow decay by its new owners Julie and Rod Crawford who have revitalized the venerable business into an invigorating new venue without compromising the traditional menu. A complete floor to ceiling restoration of the building’s interior was accomplished in short term, to revive the décor with a historic ambiance creating the perfect environment for their abundant loyal customers.

A short time ago, I had the great pleasure of photographing the new appetizer menu that has many of the favorite old traditional items as well as some innovative new culinary delights that go so well with the numerous liquid refreshments served from the historic bar in the Pyrenees saloon.
It was an all-day shoot starting around 10: AM where we set up a full studio lighting package with multiple soft boxes, reflector cards, support stands, electrical distribution cables, and a full product tool kit in a small back room adjacent to the kitchen. This made for easy delivery of each food item just at the moment of completion ensuring freshest quality products without entangling any of the patrons.
We shot non-stop though most of the day to accomplish the mission objective of photographing the thirteen item appetizer menu. Well, okay …there was of course the occasional pause after many of the really yummy ones to sample a few tastes and savor the flavors of each item knowing the incredible skills that went into preparing these delectable dishes, but this was only after confirming that we had absolutely without fail gotten the desired shot.
The fun and talented owners Julie and Rod Crawford made for a most enjoyable experience and I plan on doing many more shoots for The Pyrenees Café & Saloon very soon.

Be sure to check it out first hand if you are one of the few that have never been there before!

The Pyrenees Café & Saloon in located in the historic “Old Town Kern” area at 601 Sumner Street Bakersfield, CA 93305
And online at The Pyrenees Cafe Facebook Page for more information.


Morning Espresso

Taking the advice of Scott Libolt (a colleague photographer/Art Director and dear friend), I decided to experiment today using available light to produce food photography with the intent to give my images the appearance of occurring more naturally in the true “Still Life” style.

By carefully crafting the set in front of the glass brick window in my studio and defusing that light source with translucent white velum paper and re-directing that same light back onto the subject with just a few delicately angled thin mirror cards, the resulting image is quite satisfying. Plus, it had the additional benefit of minimizing the equipment load that is often problematic for locations shoots.

Now this is not going to work for every situation, but given that if the venue where my next location shoot takes place has the adequate window light, I may be trying this technique there. It would sure beat dragging all those studio lights, power cords and soft boxes out onto location. If I can replace them with nice lite weight reflector cards and a couple of stands, that would be great! Not to mention freeing up some time ordinarily spent setting strobe light ratios. This technique should give me even more opportunities to fine tune the details in the plated subjects.

Thanks! Scott.

©2015 Eric James Swearingen



Food Photography Portfolio (click to see)






Other Items

Venue Decor


Delicious Pastry from Westridge Market, Ojai

Westridge Market: Fruit Tart

Fruit Tart from Westridge Market Ojai, CA.
The China is Hutschenreuther of Selb Bavaria and is the 1955 Alice pattern. The Sterling silver pastry fork with mother of pearl handle is an original early 20th century Shreve’s of San Fransisco.

Nikon D800 Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8 Macro, Nikon CLS light control.

©2015 Eric James Swearingen



Blue: MOMO KAWA Sake

I have been concentrating lately on my Food Photography and Culinary Arts portfolio. This image is of a MOMO KAWA Rice Wine (Sake) bottle photographed in studio using my new “Strip Light” soft boxes and shot with a Nikon D800 through Nikkor AF 180mm F/2.8 prime lens. Each soft box (one on either side) housed a White Lightning Ultra 1200 set to it lowest possible power so that the lens aperture could be set to F/2.8 @ 50 ISO in order to maximize the bokeh effect making the background fall way out of focus. The light splashed onto the backdrop was a done with a single White Lightning Ultra 600 set to its maximum output using a 20º Honeycomb grid and a Rosco 181 Congo Blue gel filter. There was no need for any Adobe Photoshop post-production alterations. All effects were achieve in a practical manor, using lighting and camera setting alone.
©2015 Eric James Swearingen


Krush Wine Bar & Fine Dining

Krush Wine, Bar and Restaurant,
located at 10500 Hageman Rd in Bakersfield, California

( Call them to make reservations at: (661) 695-8018

One of the finest dining experiences in the greater Bakersfield area.  Executive Chef Bruce Tisler has created an amazingly scrumptious menu based loosely on classic French cuisine of “old School” Julia Child recipes with a modern twist. Using the finest and freshest of ingredients prepared in meticulous technical processes each course becomes an exceptional culinary experience bordering on pure perfection. The presentation of each plate is immaculate and shooting the Krush menu was a fabulous assignment yielding some of my best works in the food photography genre. Here are just a few images from that day.

Be sure to check out their web site to see even more samples of my photography.


Kern River Brewing Company

Gravity Check is Locally brewed IPA from the Kern River Brewing Company.


Get a Handle on your Asparagus


Editorial image depicting Asparagus as a paint brush for an article describing various methods of preparing this perplexing vegetable. Published in The Dinning Divas online magazine using the tag line of “Get a Handle on your Asparagus”. Shot in studio using all practical effects (no Photoshop needed) I found an old paintbrush out in the tool shed and disassembled it removing the dried out paint bristles and carefully replacing them with fresh organically grow Asparagus sprouts.

©2015 Eric James Swearingen




Food Photography Thoughts


Here at the Art of Eric James Studios we take great pride in crafting the highest quality images to faithfully reproduce your culinary creations to a hungry audience.

Food photography and video production is a specialization of commercial photography, aimed at producing attractive images and video of food for use in advertisements, packaging, restaurants publications like menus or cookbooks and is especially useful in social media presentations where it is extremely important to engage your patrons with special offers and current promotions.  Good quality food photography can really help counter the foodies that take bad cell phone snap shots and post them to blogs and online review sites.

Professional food photography and video is often a collaborative effort, usually involving the client, an art director, the photographer, a food stylist, a prop/set stylist and assistants, all working in concert to depict the chef’s vision.

Much thought is placed on presentation and mood of the finished image to convey the correct ambiance of each unique restaurants theme and menu. This is usually accomplished by pre-production meetings where ideas are discussed to plan out the details and objectives of the photo and/or video shoot. This insures that during production all required elements needed to produce best possible images will have been acquired as part of the logistical process leading up to day of shoot and that all participating member of the production staff are fully prepared to create the quintessential vision.

Depending on the level of complexity required to achieve the shot, there may be a lot of production equipment arriving day of shoot consisting of numerous studio strobe lights with large soft boxes on support stands with electrical distributions cables along cameras and tripods, monitors, reflector cards, color calibration charts and a food styling kit (just for example). This may take a little space to set up and is best situated away from high traffic areas in the venue.

It is in fact this support equipment that makes the shot! I have to laugh when the first thing someone asks is “Do you have a nice camera?”CAM01540

Photography is really more about lighting then anything else. In order to visually describe the shape, texture, color and details of any object, you must be able to define it with lighting. The final presentation of all photographs whether it be in the form of digital on a kiosk, smart phone, tablet, computer or in print in a magazine, cook book, billboard, menu or packaging, all of these forms of presentation are in fact 2 dimensional. It is the photographer’s duty to convey to the audience that what they are viewing is a 3 dimensional object.
I achieve this through the effective use of lighting and is what sets the Art of Eric James Studios apart from the other photographers. (or as I like to call them “Faux-tographers”). Even if they have a really nice camera…

For more information call the Studio: 661. 322. 0913Web-5002