Chandler photographer focuses on beauty of food SanTan Sun News

Chandler photographer focuses on beauty of food

May 11th, 2021 STSN Staff
Chandler photographer focuses on beauty of food
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By Srianthi Perera
Contributor

Deepika Haldankar loves to capture the natural beauty in raw food.

The lusciousness of the pomegranate and red cherry, the dark mystery of black grapes, the earthiness of mushrooms: these qualities come alive with help from her creative eye.

“If you look closely, every food has its own innate beauty,” the Chandler food-and-product photographer said. “Fresh produce, for instance, has its own nature-given texture and colors. I like to capture these in my work.”

For Haldankar, who also focuses her lens at baked goods, beverages, cooked dishes, cosmetics and other products, the medium is a way of self-expression.

As for products, “my main goal is to bring out the beauty of the product and the story it is conveying in a simple, yet bold form,” she said. “What a brand is telling through the image to the audience should be clear at just one glance.”

Haldankar’s skills haven’t gone unnoticed.

A recent member of the Gilbert Visual Art League, she won second place in photography for her depiction of a fruit bowl in this year’s juried fine art show.

Her work has been published in Green Living magazine, among others, and used to market everything from a skincare brand to a dessert shop.

The secret to food and product photography, Haldankar said, is about “creating a story out of nothing.”

She considers the item and its color, mood, seasonality, light and surroundings, and uses props and material to create the scene.

“You build on an idea and keep working on it till a final image is created,” she said. “I absolutely love the process.”

When Haldankar first came to the United States from India with her husband about a decade ago, she had a master’s degree in social sciences. A career in photography was not in the picture.

However, she had always wanted to be an artist. Circumstances, such as the birth of her daughter, led her to stay home. The young mother resolved to counter boredom and frustration by being resourceful to spend time satisfactorily.

Photography became a perfect means to channel her inner artist, she said. 

It all began in 2014, when Haldankar began a food blog, easybabymeals.com, to share the recipes she made for her daughter when she began eating her first solids. She also included other family-friendly recipes.

Her daughter didn’t like the bland, store-bought baby food, so she created her own recipes using fresh produce added with herbs and spices for aroma and flavor.

“As my daughter grew, so did my blog. Now, I share family-friendly recipes with a focus on seasonal produce and incorporating herbs and spices into everyday cooking,” she said.

The food leans western but she has carefully incorporated south Asian and Indian food. The recipes are detailed and easy to follow.

“Even if there’s any Indian influence, there are very mild spices used, they’re not too much, for the American taste,” she added.

An example is the recipe for asparagus lentil puree, introduced as a hearty, healthy meal for a little one during spring because the vegetable is seasonal. (easybabymeals.com/asparagus-lentil-puree) The puree may be turned into a soup for the whole family by adding stock.

To further complement her line of work, she is also writing a cookbook featuring her signature family-friendly recipes. It will highlight seasonal produce and the use of herbs and spices, all in easy-to-make recipes in the comfort of the home kitchen.

The blog, which she continues to this day and has been featured in Yahoo Lifestyle, Buzzfeed, Reader’s Digest and others, kept her busy and led her to food photography.

“It was a whole new area for me to explore, and I started enjoying it thoroughly,” she recalled. “I loved capturing the food with its details. Developing new recipes and taking pictures was something I did for the next few years.”

In 2017, she took advanced courses in photography to study elements of composition, lighting and other topics. She mentored under professional photographers, but is essentially self-taught.

“These added sets of skills opened up a new area of professional photography,” she said. “I decided this was the time for a brand-new career. At the beginning of 2019, I applied for all the permits necessary to work in the U.S. And my career as a photographer got established.” 

Like any other skill, Haldankar finds it needs constant development.

“I feel it’s like a muscle; the more you work on it, the better you get at it,” she said. “Learning and practicing photography is an ongoing process. It is a way to know your work and yourself better.” 

Information: deepikahaldankar.com and easybabymeals.com

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