Photography has always been in Adrion Bell’s blood.
Her father works for NASA managing the cameras for the International Space Station and encouraged her to explore the world through the lens.
“We had a darkroom when I was younger. He would hand me his camera and rolls of film and tell me ‘go burn it up. See what you get,’” said Bell, who has found her niche in food photography.
Bell hadn’t planned on a career in photography. She received her bachelor’s degree in professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and spent 11 years in the military.
Something about the camera and the images she created drew her back to the career. She’d opened The Studio on Maple initially to do portrait photography, but a referral from a fellow photographer opened up the world of food. She was leery at first.
“I get a lot of human interaction shooting people,” Bell said. “I was going to be shooting things that didn’t move or talk.”
Despite that, she found taking images of food to be fun and rewarding. She still gets the human interaction from the restaurant owners she’s shooting for.
Before COVID hit, she was shooting upwards of eight different restaurants a week. Some of her leads have come from her Instagram @foodographybyadrion. Although much of her work is local, she has traveled to Amarillo, Texas to take photos of popcorn and to Lynchburg, Va. Her work appears on restaurant menus and has been on covers of local magazines.
With the food photography taking her out of the studio, she opened up the Studio on Maple as a cooperative for other photographers to use.
Bell, who teaches food photography at Helms College, said she doesn’t dress up the food with chemicals or alter its composition to take pictures. Everything is edible after it’s been photographed. She doesn’t like to waste the props, so she donates the food. Sometimes it goes to first responders or to the soup kitchen.
When she takes photographs, she likes to use as much of the restaurant’s ambiance in the pictures as she can.
“Ninety percent of my props come from the restaurant’s shelves,” she said.
COVID took a bite out of Bell’s business in 2020, but she said the calls are starting to come back in. She’s hopeful for a full return soon.
She’s also working to make the studio more attractive to the area photographers who use the space. She’s planning on installing an LED light wall soon.
To learn more about Bell and her food photography, visit adrionbell.com.