Robert J. Ballantyne
It was supposed to be just another magazine shoot for photographer Michael Graydon. But when he met pastry chef-turned-entrepreneur Nikole Herriott, something just clicked. Between camera flashes for his House & Home assignment, in a moment impossible to capture on film, Graydon and Herriott began to fall in love.
As their relationship moved beyond the lens, Graydon and Herriott united in their shared love of photography and food, blogging photos about their travels and victuals.
Unexpectedly, their work caught the attention of a photo editor at Bon Appétit magazine.
“We didn’t market ourselves directly to them, they found us,” says Graydon, alongside Herriott, in an interview from their west-end Toronto studio. “That was a miracle. Especially to a guy like me who built his business on knocking on doors and sending out mailers.”
After landing their first gig at Bon Appétit, requests from American clients came rolling in.
“At some point it reached critical mass, where we had to get American visas,” Herriott says.
As a photography team, Graydon and Herriott travel the world and create beautiful portraits of food that you wish could leap off the page and into your mouth. Their celebrated images have been featured in the world’s greatest culinary magazines, and in 2015, their work was featured on the covers of six issues of Bon Appétit.
Their biggest project to date is Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California, a cookbook published last year with farm-to-table chef Travis Lett. Lett’s recipes are paired with Graydon and Herriott’s sumptuous visuals featuring fresh, West Coast-inspired dishes designed to be made at home.
The couple started working on the Gjelina project in 2013, travelling to Venice four separate times, hanging out with Lett and his team to capture their menu and the vibe of the Venice area.
“It was the most fun we’ve had at work — ever,” says Graydon. “The light there is so beautiful and the produce is insane.”
“It’s California! What’s not to love?” adds Herriott.
Fantastic locales aside, you may be wondering how two people can thrive as both a couple and a creative team. Part of the secret of their success is that neither takes absolute credit for any one of their photos.
“We’re both each other’s creative director,” explains Graydon. “There is some overlap, but we both bring separate skills. I’ve been a photographer for 20 years and pride myself on the technical, that is my strength, and Nikole is a trained pastry chef and really knows her way around food, that is her strength.”
“At some point in our collaboration, in certain jobs, it just kind of meshes together and it doesn’t really matter,” Herriott says. “Speaking for myself, I try to not care who took the picture because I really feel like we are doing it together.”
Popjournalism asked Graydon and Herriott to select some of their favourite images taken together and to share their tales from behind the lens.
Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California is available at bookstores, including Amazon.ca and others. For more about Michael Graydon, visit MichaelGraydon.ca. For more about Nikole Herriott, visit HerriottGrace.com.