Jody Horton is an Austin-based food and lifestyle photographer: born in Germany but raised in Charleston, SC, Jody has called Austin, TX home for more than 10 years. He studied English (BA) and Ethnology (MA) and is self taught as a photographer.
Jody's focus on food and lifestyle subjects began around 4 years ago: “I love how passionate people are about food,” he revealed in an interview “and how food—in gathering and preparation—has a natural structure for storytelling.” Since then he has photographed people and their plates, food and farmers, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire and Bon Appétit among the others.
Fine Dining Lovers asked Jody Horton few questions to know something more about his life and work, together with his relationship with food.
Jody, what’s the first taste you remember?
Homemade custard ice cream, my grandmother's recipe.
How started the passion for food photography?
When in grad school at the University of New Mexico I became friends with a guy that had just started a small food publication. I had been doing adventure travel writing and photography in Costa Rica for the two previous years and missed magazine work so started helping him and eventually became a partner in the publication. Taking photos was my favorite part. Here I gained an appreciation for the great passion that people have for food, and its natural structure for story telling. It took me some years to come back to working with food, but this was the start.
An anecdote about your work with food?
A pivotal moment for me was in meeting photographer Christopher Hersheimer and seeing her studio space. This was about three years ago. I had long admired her work and was liberated by the idea of working entirely with natural light at a high level. I recall her saying that it was a mistake to have some clients present for production since, ostensibly, working with natural light seems so simple. She said that clients would be like "That's it? That's what I'm paying for?" because it appeared so easy. There is nothing magical or over-designed about the space she and Melissa Hamilton work in. I recall being relieved by this experience. It reinforced what I knew already - that taking great food photos need not be highly technical. Sensibility to light and detail and composition is what matters, and that can happen almost anywhere (that you have light that is).
The fine dining place where you would take someone special?
My wife Regan is that someone special. Because the food is always imaginative and beautifully presented, and the waitstaff excellent (we are good friends with a few of them) Uchiko (a Japanese restaurant in Austin) has been our favorite for a little while now. It's close to our house, and we go often but I have never been disappointed there and always feel transported by the experience. When you can loose yourself in a dining experience - sort of like going to a movie - that is the best.
The dish to die for?
My friend Adam made a roasted rabbit with blue cheese polenta just before the holidays. It was great when we had it that night, but he also sent me home with enough for a few more meals. I was to share it, but it was so good that I greedily kept it for myself. It got better in the next few days and I actually ate it for dinner the following night, lunch the next day, and then, breakfast the morning my family flew out for Christmas. I even woke up early to eat it since we had to leave the house by 6:30 for our flight. There was a lot of cheese in there, so it probably literally did kill me a little bit, but it was worth it.
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