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Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn Image by Lindsey Mehlhorn  

Lindsey Mehlhorn

Hi Lindsey. Can you tell us what brought you to Milwaukee?

Absolutely…Kohl’s. I was freelancing as a photo assistant in Minneapolis, MN at the time I found the opening at Kohl’s. It was an opportunity I really couldn’t pass up.

What’s it like working for Kohl’s? What sort of photo shoots do you typically work on?

I’m very fortunate to be able to say that I work for an amazing company. The knowledge that I have gained in the last eight years at Kohl’s has been vital to my growth as a photographer. We have a creatively strong team of art directors, stylists and photographers, not to mention an incredible retouching team. I’ve been exposed to many talented freelance food photographers and stylists, which has helped spark my love for shooting food. I mainly photograph home décor, anything from beds to cookware. I’m lucky enough to shoot a variety of different assignments including our website, weekly ads, in store graphics, packaging, broadcast, and mailers.

The work on your site doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen in Kohl’s catalog recently. Is it mostly personal work, or do you shoot for other clients as well?

Currently, everything on my website has been my own personal vision. As my work is continually evolving I would love to collaborate with other clients, especially those involving editorial food. I’ll be adding work to my website in the coming months that hasn’t been published yet, so stay tuned.

Your still life work looks very professional. Did you go to school for photography?

I went to a technical college in northeast Iowa where I received a BA in photography.

Do you think it’s worthwhile for aspiring photographers to go through photo school nowadays?

I definitely think it was beneficial in my case. I was required to take courses in commercial, portraiture and photojournalism. Being able to test the waters in all fields really led me to commercial photography. You learn the fundamentals in school, which is extremely important, but honestly you gain the most knowledge on the job. I’ve met quite a few talented photographers that have no photo schooling at all, and they are extremely successful. So I’d have to say that everyone’s situation is different. Honestly our profession changes constantly, so you need to stay up to date with technology. I’m continually learning something new everyday.

What drew you to still life and food photography?

I just naturally gravitated to still life. There is something about being able to work with objects that may or may not be attractive, but through lighting and composition you can really make something special. That love for still life led me to my passion of shooting food. Texture is something that I love to play with, which is another reason photographing food is so fun for me. The challenge of making an image that someone will see and want to eat is pretty amazing.

Can you talk about the benefits of working with a prop stylist? Are there situations where you prefer doing the styling yourself?

Stylists are wonderful to work with, especially with the work that I do at Kohl’s. They really are vital to the process, and they make my job easier. It’s nice to be able to collaborate with them to get the best end result possible. On my personal work I do the majority of styling myself. It’s really relaxing for me to just put on some good music and create something I believe to be successful from start to finish. It’s where I find my happy place.

Your food photography has a very soft, natural-light appearance. What is your favorite lighting set-up when shooting food?

Natural is my light of choice, but I also enjoy using strobe. Almost all the food shots were done with window light, and most of the stills were with strobe. As my work matures I’m finding that my feminine voice is becoming apparent in the way that my images naturally evolve. I think that is represented with the soft light and the color palette in which I tend to shoot. For me, simpler is better, although I have been known to get a little crazy using mirrors to add hits of light here and there.

What other individuals do you respect in photography today, and why do they get your appreciation?

I'm constantly looking at other people’s work for inspiration. Donna Hay, Martha Stewart, and Saveur are magazines I flip through on a regular basis. Once I see an image that catches my eye, I look to see who shot it, then visit their website. Con Poulos, Gentl and Hyers, and Barbara Cole are a few sites I visit often. Their choice of camera angle, subject, and lighting is beautiful…period.

Is there an ideal place where you would eventually like to see your photography published or displayed?

I would be thrilled to have my work published with any of the above-mentioned magazines. Creating stories with my photography that incorporates food is something that I really enjoy. I am also interested in collaborating with a food stylist to create a cookbook. I think that would be an exciting experience.

What are your thoughts on the hipstamatic iPhone app? What inspired the idea behind your blog?

I love it. The fact that it looks like old school Polaroid and you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get is exciting. The app is on my ipod, which is great because I'm always listening to music so it’s with me wherever I go. Basically, the blog started as a way for me to remember to stop and look at my surroundings, find things that inspire me. Most of us are so busy we forget to do that. I try to post a couple new shots each week. It’s where I can break rules, things don’t have to be perfect, and I can free my artistic side a bit. It’s a quick and easy way for me to capture something that catches my attention. This project has really helped me stay motivated, inspired, and creative.

What advice do you have for young advertising photographers who are just starting out?

Work with as many photographers as you can. There are many wonderful people in this business. Get to know them and learn from them. Stay passionate and humble. Now…get out and shoot!

About the photographer

Lindsey Mehlhorn

Lindsey Mehlhorn is a commercial photographer currently employed at Kohl’s. In 2000 she received her bachelor’s degree in photography and has since been pursuing her passion. She specializes in food and still life photography. Lindsey is a Midwest gal based in Milwaukee, WI.

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