© Copyright, GastroFOTOnomia | ShootMyDish | Manny Rodriguez   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

Gastrofotonomia.  I know, it’s a long word, not easy to remember, not easy to spell, and it doesn't even exist, till now, but I like it.  Gastronomia is one of those words that I've always enjoyed saying. Sounds yummy in spanish or english. It was natural for me to combine my two passions, food and fotografia. On the 24th of October, 2010, at exactly 11:57 PM, while sitting up in bed with my computer, it came to me, gastro-foto-nomia!  “The art of choosing, cooking, eating, and photographing good food.” 

Hopefully you will like the content of my blog and will honor me with your visit and/or a foto assignment.  Just remember, gastroFOTOnomia is The Food Photography of Manny Rodriguez!

And, if you are divine in the kitchen or know of someone who is a great cook and would like to honor them, check out the Shoot My Dish section and see if you qualify....

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© Copyright, GastroFOTOnomia | ShootMyDish | Manny Rodriguez   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

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Cuban since 1959.  

I was born in Habana the same year as Fidel Castro's revolution. Two years later, on November 21st, 1961, my father Ramon, my mother Amelia, my sister Betty and I left on the last flight out of Cuba until the Freedom Flights in '65.  My parents weren’t allowed to take anything with them except the clothes on their backs. They left their material goods behind, but they took the most important things: their family, and what dad called lo bailao, "the dance".  Dad referred to his memories and experiences in life  as "what he danced.”  What he danced, he said, neither Castro nor death could take away. Part of that "dance," those memories, was my mom's cooking.  Mom was a remarkable woman in myriad ways, but her cooking — ay, Dios mío — her cooking was amazing!  She was the type of cook who never followed a recipe. And if she did have a recipe, she wouldn’t give it to you. Not the whole thing.  She'd tell you just enough to get you going but seemed to always hold back some ingredient, or she'd leave out a little detail in preparation.  You'd ask her, "Mami, how do I make the arroz con leche?”  and she'd rattle off a list of the ingredients. But then when you tried it yourself, you'd be like, “Uh, this doesn't taste right.” She left something out. Oh well.  And then, one day, you'd happen to be in the kitchen and see her put something in the pot, and you'd be like, "What was that you just threw in there? You never told me about the lime peel! You never told me about the baño de Maria!”  She would just smile.

People came from all over South Florida for her desserts. Friends from miles away would say, “Amelia make sure you call me when you make boniatillo [Cuban yam dessert].  I'll drive the hour to get there if you make me a couple.”  The same fascination accompanied her arroz con leche (rice pudding).  Her ropa vieja (shredded brisket).  Dad’s favorite, her bacalao frito (fried cod).  My own favorite, her black beans. The potaje de lentejas (thick lentil soup). The fricasé de pollo.  The fufú! (You'll have to come back to find out what that is.) 

Growing up, my friends loved to eat my mom’s cooking. It seemed like they would all gain weight during the summer months when they would come over most often.  And making others gain weight was her confirmation that she was doing it right!  

Mom did it with so much passion and gusto.  If I can't cook like my mom, at least, I hope, I will be able to make photographs as good as her black beans!

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When you love to eat, and take pictures, you have the perfect game. I am very fortunate to have found photography at the age of 19. I started eating way before that, but eventually I figured out how to combine both. I can only hope you like the results.

With this blog I will showcase my photography while attempting to entertain and maybe even educate you a little. It’s cooked up for everyone from the foodie to the amateur photographer, and maybe even the pro who might be interested in knowing how I do it.  I will not be posting lighting diagrams, just a very general modus operandi.   

Food is beautiful in so many stages — when it's raw, while it's being prepared, and of course when served, right before its taken in.  Even after a meal, the stains and juices on a plate, or a dirty spoon. Ahh, so visually yummy! Capturing those moments is my goal.

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Spontaneity!  

If you are playing, things happen spontaneously, no?  So if you want spontaneity in your images, play!  if you want to play all day, be spontaneous!  Don't over analize the lighting or the composition.  Concept the photo shoot beforehand, and then just play. It seems to me that the more you labor over a shot, the uglier it gets. The more lights you add, the more props you add, the more unlovely it becomes.  

You've heard it before, "less is more"  Believe it.

 

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Lighting.  

Almost all of my studio shots are executed with one light.  If I want to fill a shadow, I'll do it with a bounce card, sometimes a little silver card to add a highlight.  When on location, most of the shots, if not all, are done with available light. In general I do more subtractive lighting than anything else, blocking off windows or covering the sky above my subject with a large 12' by 12' black cloth.

What happens naturally with light is oftentimes much better than what I can conjure up.  Just keep your eyes and mind open for the possibilities.

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Equipment.  

It doesn't matter. Period.  Use what ever you have, digital, film, SLR, point and shoot cameras, camera phones. Hot lights, strobes, fluorescent, neon, and NATURAL, AVAILABLE LIGHT!  

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