We had the good fortune of connecting with Jess Suworoff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jess, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I ended up in a creative career because it always felt like the right fit and has always been the most fulfilling for me. I grew up in a household where one parent was a professional artist and the other a professional art conservator, so I was exposed early to two very different careers in the art world (an artist vs one that supported creative/artistic work). This difference is something I’ve experimented with in my career since working in Advertising Photography. I identify with the term creative, more so than the term artistic. Ultimately, these experiences led me to food styling.
What should our readers know about your business?
A lot of food stylists come from a culinary background. I’m a bit different in that I come from an advertising photography background. I came to my career over time, working in advertising, food photography studios, and producing photography for advertising and commercial use. Early in my career, while working as an assistant for a commercial photo studio in Sydney, Australia, I would fill in as a food stylist when one wasn’t available. I have such fond memories of those projects and loving the creative challenges that came along with those jobs.
Years later, while working as a photo editor for a magazine, I would frequently hire freelancers for projects domestically and internationally. I learned a lot about the inner workings of estimating, sourcing creatives, booking jobs and the realities of client-creative relationships. During this time I was also moonlighting as a freelance image retoucher for clients like Food Network and the Cooking Channel. Hiring freelancers while being a freelancer helped hone my understanding of the business behind being a creative for hire.
The missing piece to figuring out my career was combining my professional experience with passion and appreciation for cooking. I love to cook! Being creative in the kitchen is a happy place for me. Over the years I’ve looked at a LOT of food photography and have developed an eye for how best to convey a client’s needs through still photography or video.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m from Maryland originally and never imagined I’d settle down in the desert, however Arizona and particularly Phoenix, have won me over. I love showing my East Coast friends and family what draws me to this area. Honestly there are too many places for me to mention, so below are my local phoenix favorites:
Tacos Chiwas (1028 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85014) – I love picking friends up from the airport and taking them out for beers, tacos, and ideally, a good sunset. It’s not fancy or a particularly pretty place, but it’s got a fun vibe and the best tacos.
Copper Star Coffee (4220 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013) – Best bagels and BLT in town.
Valentine (4130 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013) – It’s a good day if you’re lucky enough to get one of their croissants before they are gone. Also the rest of the menu is pretty killer. While at Valentine be sure to check out Modern Manor; it’s a great mid-century modern furniture store that shares the building with Valentine.
Hikes, hikes and more hikes – too many to recommend, the early morning desert air is intoxicating.
Lylo Swim Club (400 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013) – Beautiful space paired with great food and fun cocktail list.
Uptown Farmers Market (www.uptownmarketaz.com) – I love going on Saturday mornings before it gets too hot.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I credit my parents and exposure to the arts at an early age, my education including a degree in Advertising Photography from RIT, work opportunities, and a professional mentor, Food Stylist Kim Krejca, for helping me pursue a career that’s off the beaten path. If you have an opportunity to be mentored by someone you admire and who is successful in the career you want to pursue, that kind of advice and support is a huge game changer!
Rick Gayle, Adrian Delsi, Natasha Mishano