Deanna Linder freely admits she has “probably the most awesome job ever.” After
all, she spends most of her days doing what mothers have for decades been
chastising their children for doing: Playing with her food.
photographer Danya Weiner form an in-demand food stylist/food photographer team,
collaborating on photo shoots for cookbooks, magazines and advertisements, as
well as heading the popular Matkonation blog (matkon is Hebrew for
Each took her own path to the world of creating beautiful images
Weiner was born in Los Angeles, but came to Israel when she was
just a few months old. She struggled in school until she took a class in
photography at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and “I just got hooked
It wasn’t until she was studying photography at Hadassah
College and took a class in food photography that she dedicated herself to
taking culinary photos.
“I always loved food,” she says, “and I realized
I wanted to combine my two loves.”
Linder, who was also born in
California, came to Israel in 2003, working in the field of counterterrorism
research. After three years at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, she left
to pursue her culinary dreams. She graduated from the Bishulim school in Tel
Aviv and worked in various restaurants before she realized that being a chef
wasn’t the life she wanted.
She had never heard of food styling before a
friend suggested it as a potential career, but once she learned more about it,
she was sold. After apprenticing for a year under one of the country’s most
famous food stylists, Natasha Haimovich, Linder branched out with her own
“It’s not just making food look pretty,” she says of her work,
“it’s more art direction.”
She keeps a large collection of props for
posing photos, most of which she buys on trips to flea markets in California
twice a year.
Shortly after Linder set out on her own, Weiner contacted
her to collaborate on a cookbook, and their partnership was born.
both women say the field of food photography is growing in Israel, they’ve
encountered plenty of surprised and confused reactions among people who ask what
they do for a living.
“People are very surprised,” says
Weiner. “It’s not something you hear about very often.... They ask, why
do you just photograph food and not architecture or people?”
But even in the 10
years since she started in the field, she adds, “today there are more, many
more, that are known for this speciality.”
As for Linder, whose job
involves arranging both the food and its surroundings to best exhibit the recipe
– dishes, textiles, backgrounds, props and utensils – even her own husband
didn’t quite understand what she did. Until, after a particular shoot, the
photographer sent over all the proofs, where the small changes she had made
between photos were evident.
“You could see how I’d moved a spoon a
little bit and everything,” she says, “and my husband said to me, ‘I finally get
what you do!’”
The pair also encounter many misconceptions about about the world
of food styling.
“People ask, do you use real food?” says Linder. “Yes,
we eat what we make... if I don’t come home from a photo shoot with a box of
food, my husband is disappointed.”
While they work with all sorts of
clients, Weiner says she loves working with chefs “that have a creative view for
themselves... that we work together and understand the image... the
photographer, the chef and stylist; when we all work together it’s like a
triangle, and every food can be photographed in a beautiful way.”
while the two women make a living on photo shoots for magazines like Al
Hashulhan (On the Table) and cookbooks like the newly published Hebrew-language
Everything on the Grill (Penn Publishing), their creative inspiration is
channeled in their blog. Weiner and Linder alternate posting on Matkonation
several times a month, with recipes, photos and stories from their
“I felt that I needed a place that would make me do my own stuff,”
says Weiner. “I needed somewhere that my photography would be only mine.
Sometimes it takes a lot of our time, but I think it pushes us to find new stuff
and investigate food.”
“The blog started as a way for us to have
creativity from start to finish,” adds Linder. And while they don’t make
much income from the site, it has led to new assignments, as well as a series of
courses they run out of Weiner’s Jaffa studio for people interested in studying
food photography and styling.
“I really believe in the recipes we post,”
says Linder. “Both of us are moms” – Linder of one and Weiner of soon-to-be
three – “and it’s really important for us to cook at home, easy, tasty meals.”