Member of the week: Brian Preston-Campbell, food stylist

We are pleased to feature our newest Member of the Week, Brian Preston-Campbell. Brian works in the advertising industry as a food stylist. Don’t commercials and advertisements make that tall glass of beer, or that juicy burger, look good? Brian is the person who makes food look so good that you get up off your couch to go buy it. He also does stunning editorial work. Check out Brian’s website to see some examples, and learn more about him as he answers a few questions below. And if you'd like to be featured as a Member of the Week, start by creating a profile!

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What has been your most interesting project?

I've been blessed with some really interesting jobs, and some that were downright bizarre or even dangerous (pyrotechnics were involved, fortunately no one was hurt). The most memorable of my recent jobs was for Health Magazine for an article about a chocolate diet. After much discussion, the photographer and I decided that it would be fun to make a chocolate cheeseburger. I dipped hamburger buns in milk chocolate and added some sesame seeds on top, dipped onion slices in white chocolate, tinted some more white chocolate green and coated a few lettuce leaves in it, and tinted a little more white chocolate red to look like ketchup. The chocolate "patties" were two Ritter Sport dark chocolate squares and the cheese was a thin square of white chocolate. We were all happy with the results and I continue to get compliments on that shot.

Why did you decide to go freelance?

I spent 11 years in restaurants as a chef, usually behind a stove, grill, or some other piece of hot cooking equipment. Food styling had always appealed to me and seemed like a good way to get out of the kitchen and into more interesting situations. I'm glad I made the move, because overall the work is much more creative than reproducing the same eight or ten dishes every day, and while there is stress in styling food, it's far from the insanity found in a restaurant kitchen.

What tip would you give to a new freelancer or someone who is considering going freelance?

Tough it out. The first year or two are usually the hardest, but if you're diligent about marketing your skills and truly enjoy the work you're doing for your clients, the business will come.

What is your favorite spot in the city in which you live?

I think my favorite NYC neighborhood these days is Chinatown. There's always a new fruit or vegetable that I haven't tried before, and many of the small grocers have really interesting ingredients. The fishmongers usually have everything I need and since it's all openly displayed, I can check the quality before I buy. Some of the best dining-out values can be had in the area as well, from Dim Sum to Vietnamese sandwiches to soup dumplings -- it seems like there's five great restaurants per block in Chinatown!

What is your inspiration?

Naturally the still-life work of Irving Penn is always a source for inspiration. Other ideas come from things I see in everyday life, or from brainstorming sessions with any of the extremely talented photographers I'm lucky enough to work with. Even after six years of full-time styling, I still work on portfolio shots from time-to-time. It's important for me to try new things, improvise a little, and art direct my own shots every once in a while.

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