Interview: Banks White

chicken and waffles breakfast
Born and raised in Texas, PRO | Chef Banks White is a professional chef (currently at Rambler & the soon to open The Brixton on 2nd ) whose curiosity of food and travel has led him to capturing his everyday through photography. Whether it is creating his own masterpieces or tasting menus around the world, he has an eye for photographing whatever dish is presented.

In the spirit of our new Challenge: On The Table, we sat down at the Chef’s Table to get a taste of White’s photography.
Tell us a little about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you do?
I’m a Chef living in the Bay Area working in San Francisco. I’ve cooked all over the country for about 15 years. Napa Valley, San Francisco and New York City for the majority of the time in Michelin rated restaurants.
I’m passionate about food photography and styling. I look to Donna Hay’s style for open light and dark food photography.

How did you start in photography?

I originally started in Junior High. My father was big into photography and I naturally followed and picked up sports photography. My sister played every sport when she was in school and we had to tag along, so I started taking pictures of her games.
I stayed with it and it continued all the way to college where I thought I was going into Sports Photo Journalism. I was really good at photography, but it wasn’t a huge passion for me. During my sophomore year in college I decided to go to culinary school in Vermont.
Later on, in my career, I started to take pictures of my own food.

Any tips for photographing food?

Much like in the kitchen, we call it “mise en place:” to have everything in its place. When setting up shot I like to pre-game and get the shot ready and aperture dialed in before I bring out the principal ingredient.
Also to get some inspiration, I look up to Evan Sung, Daniel Kreiger, and Kelly Puleio. They’ve all shot my food before and I count them as great resources.

What is one of your favorite photos ever taken and why?I cannot choose a single image. I love my travel photography. I started traveling internationally 10 years ago and I’m hooked. Mostly Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Laos). I’ve made so many travel friends and have eaten some amazing street food.

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