By Missy Hunter
Leigh Beisch ensures there is inspiration all around her from the people with whom she collaborates to her classic Victorian home turned studio. As is typical with food photographers, Leigh and team embark on holiday projects, six months in advance, tasked with feeling the spirit of the holidays while enduring tanktop-wearing, summer weather.
The team is used to this shooting timeline, having long ago learned where to find appropriate decor, and produce in the off-season. “The team has fun with holiday shoots, setting up Christmas trees and decorating cookies in the thick of summer.”
Leigh studied fine-art photography before becoming a commercial photographer. She was looking for a way to blend the two, a space to express her ideas as well as create compelling work for clients. Leigh purchased a Victorian home in a neighborhood mixed with residential and commercial dwellings. She intended to make it a full-time studio that didn’t necessarily feel like work. “I wanted the space to feel professional, but not sterile; I wanted it to be inspirational and feel like space in which you would want to create, not just feel like it was a place to do a job.”
There aren’t specific mood-setting devices for a holiday shoot; no they aren’t dressed in Santa Suits. The studio, however, has a look that evokes home, “a casual setting where visitors can feel that they can help themselves to something in the kitchen, go outside to the garden to make a call or use the space as they need it.”
Through her photography, Leigh explores how food and family nourish and nurture, with the holidays being the pinnacle of care and togetherness. It’s no wonder her creative environment is a home where any stress that can come from a high-end photo shoot can get waylaid, and people can feel more comfortable being open, innovative and communicate well with each other. “I like how de-stressed people are when they work here. The pug also helps with that.”
The studio is always furnished – except the shooting area which is pretty open. “A few years ago, I worked with an interior designer friend to redecorate the studio to feel like a scene from Pinterest, since that is where a lot of us get our inspiration. The studio has been a perfect backdrop or setting for many of my shoots, especially holiday shoots where we can use the fireplace to hang stockings or the garden for grilling.”
When Leigh comes up with an aesthetic for holiday shoots, she tries to come up with a direction that communicates holiday as minimally as possible, allowing for flexibility and relevance for the duration of a season.
We asked Leigh about the particular things she does, above and beyond creating the set/scene for a holiday shoot. Does she play music? Are there unseen holiday decorations for the cast and crew to enjoy? In answer, Leigh admits to being a massive fan of Christmas playlists, playing them over and over. She guesses this habit drives her team crazy during the real holiday season. We are sorry to report we may have planted a seed for future holiday shoots, “Now that I think of it, I should be playing that music during the holiday shoots, and serving up some Christmas cookies.” They always serve cookies in the afternoon at the studio, so why not?
Follow Leigh on Instagram to see her imagery fueled by her love of community, food, wellness, and art.