What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a fashion designer. And then I wanted to be an astronomer.
I’m not entirely sure how I went from one end of the spectrum to the other, but clearly I had aspirations. Then I went to high school and graduated. And then I went to college and actually had to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (hint: I’m still working on this step of the process).
So I started thinking about journalism. But Pitt doesn’t have a journalism major, per se. Which lead me to Intro to Linguistics. I found the class so fascinating that, at the end of my sophomore year (the literal last moment I could have picked a major), I decided on Linguistics.
And here we are. I have one year left. I like linguistics, but I don’t want to be a teacher or pursue a career in academia. Fortunately, the skills I’m learning as a Ling major are also applicable to many other professions and facets of life.
The last few days have been all about professional development. On Sunday, I had a Delicious Israel workshop with Israeli international food and travel photographer Sivan Askayo. Her work has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast, Marie Claire UK, and numerous other editorial and commercial publications.
Sivan told us about the importance of the four major aspects of food and travel photography: landscape, portrait, food, and interior. She explained what it’s like to work with writers and photo editors in various countries, as well as egotistic chefs and insecure subjects.
One of the main takeaways was to keep a positive energy and realize that sometimes it’s best not to expect anything. Don’t be shy and always promote yourself shamelessly. At the end of the day, we’re all just people. There’s no reason to be nervous or afraid.
Sivan mentioned that she loves photographing Israel because it’s a great way to show that the country is fresh and vibrant. It’s quite opposite the way that Israel is represented in the media, so it’s important for people to see that there’s more to this country than war and conflict.
When I asked specifically about food photography, Sivan told us what’s trending at the moment: half-eaten food and the particular placement of utensils. She emphasized that it’s important to capture food from different angles. The dish needs to look appetizing, so brown meats are very hard to photograph.
Sivan requests dishes with at least three colors and volume when she’s taking pictures because flat foods are hard to photograph unless they’re on a light table. The color and shape of the food is important, as well as the texture because it’s impossible to show exactly how delicious a dish is without actually tasting it.
Sivan shared stories of when she had to photograph 32 patisseries in Paris over the span of four days (she had to bring salty snacks to eat in between) and of a particularly arrogant Israeli chef who wouldn’t cooperate (she had to lure him in by focusing on and complementing one of his sous chefs). It was an extremely informative afternoon and we couldn’t have thanked Sivan enough for coming to talk with us.
If you could combine what you love doing with what you’re good at, what would your dream job be?
For me, the answer is editor of a food publication.
Monday was Onward Connections, a day where over 400 Onward participants gathered at Kibbutz Shefayim to mingle and network while participating in different career-related tracks. I, of course, signed up for Food and Ethics.
Our first session consisted of a man speaking to us about the ethics of the food industry, animal rights and suffering, food distribution, and a few other topics. We broke into small groups and discussed these topics with a Jewish lens.
After a delicious lunch break (where Emma, Jared and I tried about four desserts each), we broke out into our second session. This one was more hands-on, where we first made tea with handpicked Israeli herbs and then learned how to make fresh whole-grain mustard.
It was really great for everyone to focus on their future for a day, which is truly what Onward Israel is about: connecting us to this wonderful country and giving us the opportunity to build up our resumes.
And of course, they tried to rope us back in with a Masa Israel fair at the end. Classic.