JD HAGE / FOODIE
“Growing up in an ethnic home makes food more than about just eating. It's social, it's entertaining, it's bonding – it is love. And it has shaped my passion for shooting people, products and food.”
As a commercial photographer specializing in food and location shooting, I’m always uncovering new restaurants and interesting places to visit and explore. I love everything about growing, preparing, cooking and presenting food.
I’m based in West Michigan, which is known for its farm-to-table centric community, and I enjoy being a part of the local restaurant scene, working with chefs, artisanal and slow food businesses, local sustainable farms, craft beer breweries and wine makers. Now the rest of the world has come calling for me to work in new and distant settings.
Why did I choose food photography?
It chose me. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, surrounded by my Polish and Lebanese relatives. Growing up in an ethnic home makes food more than about just eating. It's social, it's entertaining, it's bonding – it is love. And it has shaped my passion for shooting people, products and food.
When I smell spices, I can feel how they will blend together, and when I look at food I am shooting, I can see how it will become an image. My goal is to make food appear honest and inviting, like welcoming someone to your table.
Fun is a requirement. It can lead to some pretty amazing creative solutions.
I have a strong work ethic – it’s how I was raised, and I believe in developing a partnership with each individual client. I like to have fun while I work. It’s a requirement for each of my projects, and it can lead to some pretty amazing creative solutions. When you work with me, you have the benefit of working with a photographer who cannot only draw on over 25 years of experience, but who can also leverage the latest techniques and technologies to guide your project. After attending the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, I opened my own studio, and I’ve in business ever since then.
My images have been used for videos, television ads, billboards, websites, national magazines, food publications, packaging and in-store merchandising for national retailers, cookbooks and more. Plus, I work with some of the most talented food stylists in the industry.
If you'd like to talk about a project, contact me. We'll grab dinner together.
SETH THOMPSON / WEIRDO
“I love making an authentic connection with people I meet that feels like we’ve known each other all our lives. It’s a connection that I think is instantly noticeable when you look at the images.”
I tend to shoot in wider angles than you normally would for portraiture. I do this for two reasons. First, I want to show the environment the person is in and second, this style requires that I’m closer to the subject than I could be with a longer lens. We all have energy about us, and for me, the photos are better when the subject and photographer’s energies are closer to each other.
Photography is unfamiliar territory every day. As it should be.
The part of my job that I love the most is getting on a plane, traveling to a new town, and making an authentic connection with people I've just met that feels like we’ve known each other all our lives. It’s a connection that I think is instantly noticeable when you look at the images.
Because of the many challenges that location photography presents – everything from selecting the right location to working with/fighting against the weather – I prefer shooting on location rather than in the studio. We often joke, saying "If you're not scared, you're not trying hard enough", but it's true; in over my head is my favorite place to be.
My musical background is more important than ever.
I became a professional photographer when I was splitting my time between photography and being a gigging songwriter, and told the universe "Okay, I don't care which it is, but either music or photography has to start earning a sustainable living." That week, I got my first well-paid commercial photo gig, and that was that. I never stopped playing music, though. And now as a filmmaker and editor, that musical background is more important than ever. When I'm editing video, I put it together as though I'm writing a song, with verses, choruses, crescendos, and quiet. And often times I end up soundtracking the video by recording the music myself. I love it, because all of my creative worlds have collided perfectly in the realm of video production.
When not shooting, I spend as much time as I can outdoors hiking and biking. I’m also one of the founding members of Until Love Is Equal, a Grand Rapids LGBT rights group and Artpeers, a 501(c)3 forging trust-based relationships to create site-based art and performance that provides unconventional access to diverse people, places and perspectives.