Rising Light: The tasty still-life photography of Taylor Gill
Rising Light is an article series highlighting promising photography students from all over the world. This time we meet Taylor Gill at Appalachian State University, who combined her two passions – food and still-life photography.
Taylor Gill is a recent graduate of the Photography Department at Appalachian State University, located in Boone, North Carolina. Judging by her work you’d never suspect the ink on her college degree isn’t even dry yet.
Long before photography entered her life, Taylor had a passion for food and all of the good things related to the experience of preparing, serving, and sharing food with friends and loved ones. It was only a matter of time before she would find a way of blending her love for food and cooking with her newly found love for taking pictures. And her passion for both food and photography shows in her work.
Interestingly enough, Taylor entered ‘App U’ with the intention of being a History teacher, but an Intro to Photography class she took in her freshman year knocked that train off the tracks.
Considering the fact Taylor had limited experience with cameras – and next to zero experience with lighting gear, her feel for composition and light is pretty remarkable.
She has a well-trained eye for composing and cropping in on the key elements of her photographs. She senses how to best fill the frame and exactly where select elements should bleed off the edge of the page. There’s little in the way of wasted space in her photographs – everything seems to be in order.
For inspiration, Taylor Gill follows a number of food bloggers. One in particular – Beth Kirby, a photographer based in Chattanooga Tennessee, produces a blog called ‘Local Milk’, which really gets Taylor’s creative chops in gear.
Unlike many food bloggers, who rarely do more than shoot overhead pictures with their phones, Taylor Gill plans her shots carefully, does all of her own styling, and makes sure every element in the picture serves a purpose while playing well against the other elements in the frame. She believes every image must tell a story in order to be credible to the viewer.
Gill’s earliest work was captured using available light, but she soon recognized the advantages of controlled light. Using the department’s extensive cache of Profoto professional lighting equipment, she quickly became proficient at using the Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash system and the many light shaping tools that were available to her.
Her more recent work was shot using B1 heads and Profoto OCF Softbox 2×3’ and Profoto Softbox RFi 3×4’, as well as the Profoto Softlight Reflector, also known as beauty dish. Even still, she does her best to maintain the look of natural light – and she does it well.
“Lighting is super crucial for good food photography because first and foremost you have to make the food look good. I love how I can change my lighting I order to change my story that I want to tell. I can make it light and airy if I want to or more ‘moody’. Having the control of the light is so important because it changes your message and image completely”.
Fresh from graduating, Taylor plans on moving to Charlotte NC in order to start getting her feet wet in the business of photography by assisting some of the pro shooters in town while continuing to experiment and expand the limits of what she can do behind the lens.
Looking further down the line Taylor Gill hopes to someday shoot for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Kin Folk Magazine, Food & Wine, and similar high profile magazines.
Something she would particularly like to do at some point is work on a collaborative project with other artists such as ceramists, stylists, and other practitioners of the creative arts. It’s safe to say if Taylor takes the promo photographs for the event it will be a sellout.
Photographer: Taylor Gill
School: Appalachian State University
Profoto gear of choice: Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash
Visit her website: www.taylorgillphoto.com