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Point, shoot, eat: Food photography captures unique flavors of local restaurants

(Photo credit: Micah Mackenzie)

In a landscape full of photo opportunities, many are hungry to capture them.

Food photography's at the forefront in our culinary city as restaurants look to stand out, especially on social media.

Micah Mackenzie's a local fashion photographer, but he's learned to focus on eye candy at Asheville area restaurants.

"I walked into Asheville going, 'There's so many different flavors.'" he said.

At places like The Hop Ice Cream Cafe, News 13 found him targeting blueberry kale ice cream in a waffle cone.

"It's colorful in itself, but how do you make that art?" he asked. "Add some flair."

Which is where some rainbow sprinkles come in.

"Just do a little design or whatever," he said, snapping some photos.

Co-owner Greg Garrison gives him the scoop on big assignments.

Micah's food photos have turned up in publications including "Scoop Adventures: The best ice cream in 50 states" and "Domino Magazine."

"We've used his photos in every publication that's reached out to us that's been on a national level," Garrison said.

"I like to enhance that," Mackenzie said, referring to his food clients. "Just one of the key things, upping what people usually see."

"It's a never ending story with how people come up with these creations," he added. "And I want to showcase them as well as they create them."

What was once just farm to table, is now farm to table to photo.

"It's like the old saying -- you eat with your eyes," Anthony Cerrato of Strada Italiano said.

Cerrato gives the photography and social media reigns to a local marketing company, which attracts customers in search of dishes with visual appeal.

"Millenials that don't even look at the menus posted on the outside of the building," Cerrato said. "So, they're looking at their phones."

Which underscores just how important the restaurant's image really is.

"It's something that has to be bumped up and make sure it's professionally done," Chef Cerrato said of food photography.

Micah points to the quality photos at places like Bomba, Chestnut, and Smoke and Salt as prime examples. Their Instagram accounts make followers salivate.

"Kudos to whoever is shooting that food, and kudos to whoever is making that food," Mackenzie said.

So, it takes more than just pointing and shooting.

"You always want to add aspects of the restaurant or where you're taking the picture," Mackenzie said, at the intersection of business and art.

"That's what we're trying to deliver sometimes is something that looks really, really tasty," Garrison said.

"Voila!" Mackenzie said stepping down from a booth after photographing ice cream. "Art."

After a job well done came the image of the day -- Mackenzie eating what he just shot.

"I had to, haha," Mackenzie said. "So good!"

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