What's Burning podcast

026: Clay Williams - Photographer & Co-founder of Black Food Folks

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Clay Williams photographs food, drinks, and the people and places that define food culture. Over the last 15 years his adventures have taken him on road trips through Argentina and South Louisiana. They have found him hanging off the back of food trucks from Paris to The Bronx. He has sweat it out in tight kitchens with Michelin-starred chefs and wandered through fields of livestock with butchers and chefs seeking the origins of the meat and produce they purvey. And in the last two years, he's documented how the pandemic has impacted the people, restaurants, and communities throughout New York.

Most recently, Clay's work has allowed him to photograph the food and stories of James Beard Rising Star Chef Kwame Onwuachi and Gullah Matriarch Ms. Emily Meggett, whose cookbooks were released in Spring of 2022. When he's not on set shooting cookbooks, you can find him on assignment for The New York Times, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and The James Beard Foundation.

In 2019, Clay co-founded Black Food Folks, a platform for professionals working in food and food media. The organization has provided a space to connect, collaborate, and share stories within the community. From 2020 through 2021, Black Food Folks hosted over 200 live conversations among members of the community and provided over $85,000 in grants to Black-run organizations in food and food media throughout the country. Most recently, Black Food Folks has launched a podcast, Black Desserts, currently in its second season.

If Clay isn't behind the camera, he might be behind the stove cooking at home or out exploring local gems around the world. He lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, with his wife, Tammi Williams, a textile artist and founder of Yarn & Whiskey.

Clay is available for assignments and projects  in New York and Philadelphia, and is happy to travel further afield. He is a member of @DiversifyPhoto.

On this episode, Clay joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses the changing depiction of food in photography, the need to build trust with ones subject, and the importance of anticipating a shot and framing it before it happens (especially in the kitchen!).

Follow Clay and his work on Twitter and Instagram: @ultraclay and Clay Williams Photo on Facebook.

To see more of Clay’s work, visit: claywilliamsphoto.com

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