Celebrating the Images of NC

You all know by know how much I love to take photos of food, but my passion for capturing a moment in time goes beyond just capturing a meal or a recipe in action.  I take pictures when I travel, and those travels take me throughout my state of North Carolina.  I am always lagging behind on a trail hike in the wooded mountains or far down the beach studying the waves through my lens.  I want to see my world, my state…with intention and pause.

I appreciate the way others see the world through their photos, so I was intrigued by The North Carolina Blogger Network’s NC Photographer Awards 2015 sponsored by the Mast Farm Inn.  It is a contest for both professional and amateur photographers that celebrates the images of North Carolina.  If you would like to see some of my favorite images of NC, check out my submissions by typing (ssprenz) in the search bar on this page. I urge you to browse the amazing images that people have submitted, vote for your favorites, and submit some of your own by March 23rd!

Food Memories

“How is everything?” the server asks.

“Oh, she hasn’t even taken a bite yet,” my husband responds rolling his eyes as I rotate my plate to get the perfect shot.  The server smiles knowingly and promises to check in with us soon.

“Honey, can you give me some light?” I plead.

“Sure,” he says as he pulls his iPhone from his pocket.

He always obliges my need to take a picture.  That…is true love!  I take a few photos and dig in to my meal.

This is a typical scene when I dine out.  Whether I am with my husband, a group of friends, or alone–I am constantly snapping a photo of my meal.  Actually, to be honest, I take an enormous amount of food pictures. At times, my friends and family who do not understand my need to capture a meal in photos, have probably thought an intervention was warranted. My need to capture a recipe in action or the perfectly plated homemade meal or an exquisite dining experience is deep within my soul. No intervention necessary because I doubt it would work! I have found that many people are committed to capturing the meals they make and the meals they enjoy while dining out. Some want to catalog their food journey while others simply want to share the meal and the experience with others. “We eat with our eyes first.” The incredibly insightful person who originally made this statement nailed it. We see a plate of delicious creativity, and we know immediately that we want to dig in. Our eyes tell our stomachs, “This should be amazing. Go for it!”

Food is also a memory; it is nostalgia; it is fellowship. Familiar food scents often spark a memory or a feeling of nostalgia. Photographs can do this, too. I remember my travels through the dishes I ate at every destination. I recall holidays and times with my family through the meals we have created together.

But still, some may ask, “why in the world would you take a photo of your food?”  Well, for me it is about the memory.  The visual creativity of the plating.  The mouth-watering appearance of the food. The aroma of the dish.  All of these things are captured in a photo and later can evoke the memory of that meal.   I keep these photos and stroll through them, much like one would a travel diary, reminiscing about the flavors and experiences. I have never been one to keep a written journal.  I guess my journaling is through the photos I take.  I am a “visual journalizer” of sorts.  We journal what is important to us and food is a huge part of my life.  From homemade, to dining out, to special occasions–I have a photographic history of my food journey.

Sharing these photos with others is a wonderful way to connect.  Social media also allows me to see the food journeys of others.  It has been an amazing way to meet people in my community who are passionate about food, cooking, and local agriculture.  When I see a photo of a delicious homemade creation, I immediately want the recipe.  When I see a beautifully plated meal from a local restaurant I have yet to discover, I immediately want to go there.

Food memories are the delicious moments in my life.  I am thankful for all of those moments and the ones that are yet to come.

The banana turron with purple potato ice cream at Mango Hut in 29 Palms, CA. I can still taste that wonderful ice cream!

The banana turron with purple potato ice cream at Mango Hut in 29 Palms, CA. I can still taste that wonderful ice cream!

This Breton butter cake with ginger ice cream and stone fruit was decadent.  If you are in La Jolla, CA, go to Whisk n Ladle...please!

This Breton butter cake with ginger ice cream and stone fruit was decadent. If you are in La Jolla, CA, go to Whisk n Ladle…please!

My dear friend Bryanne took me to the seafood market in Washington, D.C. one October. We ate these beauties at about 10:00AM.  Crawfish are best for breakfast!

My dear friend Bryanne took me to the seafood market in Washington, D.C. one October. We ate these beauties at about 10:00AM. Crawfish are best for breakfast!

Last year, I decided to eat beef again when I could find it pasture raised.  This was a beautifully prepared hangar steak with deconstructed chimchurri from Little Hen in Holly Springs.

Last year, I decided to eat beef again when I could find it pasture raised. This was a beautifully prepared hangar steak with deconstructed chimchurri from Little Hen in Holly Springs.

My first attempt at Mapo Tofu last year.  Love those Szechuan peppercorns!

My first attempt at Mapo Tofu last year. Love those Szechuan peppercorns!

My mom gave me figs from her tree in Eastern NC.  These were perfect paired with vanilla yogurt and some local honey.

My mom gave me figs from her tree in Eastern NC. These were perfect paired with vanilla yogurt and some local honey.

One of my favorite places in Raleigh is Fiction Kitchen.  This was a lovely heirloom tomato salad they did last summer.  We dine with my bosses--loved to see them experience this place for the first time!

One of my favorite places in Raleigh is Fiction Kitchen. This was a lovely heirloom tomato salad they did last summer. We dined with Dan and Diana Saklad from Whisk–loved to see them experience this place for the first time!

This wonderful focaccia from Dough in Asheville was our lunch atop Mt. Mitchell in the midst of a thunderstorm.  Awesome!

This wonderful focaccia from Dough in Asheville was our lunch atop Mt. Mitchell in the midst of a thunderstorm. Awesome!