By Jennifer Moulaison | Photos by Rose Hodges
Peruse the photography of Rose Hodges and just try not to get hungry. Image after image of mouth-watering cuisine fill the extensive portfolio she’s built over three decades. Whether it’s a cluster of perfectly ripened peaches from the local farmers market or an antique bowl filled with pistachio ice cream that tantalizingly drips from its rim, Hodges’ talent for capturing food is rooted in her passion for culinary experiences that grew from her childhood.
“I don’t have much in the way of memories of my childhood, not the way others do. What I can recall in perfect detail are the quintessential German food experiences I grew up with,” says Hodges. Her mother, who was born in Germany and lived there during the Second World War, married an American soldier and immigrated to California, where Hodges was raised. Hodges describes the German candy stores she’d go to while visiting Germany as a child as fairy-tale-like. She recalls that socializing there revolved around baking, with decadent homemade cakes and pastries, and breads so crusty and dense, they were a meal themselves.
“In retrospect, it makes sense how things have come full circle,” says Hodges. She first pursued psychology in her late teens, but quickly desired something more creative. While acquiring a degree in graphic design, she discovered a skill and interest in photography, and things progressed naturally as she proceeded, assisting prominent
photographers for many years and eventually striking out on her own. “I don’t think I really chose photography as a career; it seemed to choose me,” she explains. “But I think it’s a privilege to have had the opportunity to choose a career. My mother, being involved in the war, didn’t have the opportunities I’ve had.”
Having photographed for many notable brands and recently completing a spread for EatingWell magazine, Hodges’ career is peppered with prestigious collaborations. “I was once driving down a San Francisco freeway and saw one of my images so large on a billboard it made my heart drop,” she recalls. She considers her work with renowned chef Thomas Keller among the highlights of her career. “When you work with someone at that level, it is an honor. He’s such a professional and has a passion and respect for food—like I’ve never seen before,” she says.
Hodges is moving more toward photographic stories, now. “I like the little adventures you can do through photography,” she says. Mushroom foraging, a sun-drenched summer barbecue, and the local farmers markets are among her favorite subjects. She also hopes to be more spontaneous, photographing in restaurants and highlighting culinary life as it happens. “What I love to see, someone may not have thought of. As an artist, you have to expose that.”