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Meet Carl Kravats of Carl Kravats Photography in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carl Kravats.

Carl, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in NYC. My Mom was a milliner and seamstress and later in life, a self-taught nutritionist. My Dad was a master draftsman and later became a designer of spherical and rod end bearings. We ended up in Connecticut where I graduated from high school. I decide to go to art school because my art teacher thought I had some talent, not me, him. As a junior, I was making something out of plaster of Paris in his class, it started to look like a rat, so I said, “Okay, this is a rat.” (I had no idea what I was doing). I went looking around the room for something to use for a tail. I saw a wisp broom, you know, the kind witches fly around on, and plucked a “wisp” from it, stuck it up the rear of the “plaster of Paris rat”, and voila, a tail. Well, you would have thought I was the second coming of Michelangelo. My art instructor praised the concept of using “Multimedia” (Whatever that was). At some point he recommended me to follow a career in art. After graduating, I decided to go to “The Film School,” at The School of Visual Arts in NYC. I received a “working” scholarship as the assistant to the Film Dept. I eventually graduated from The Film School after 3 years. I went back to The School of Visual Arts and applied to “The Photo School”, which had just opened. Since I already knew the workings of the school by being the assistant to The Film School, they gave me another work scholarship, and I became the assistant to the Photography Department. I was lucky enough to have instructors who were famous in their rights such as Bob Adelman, a Look Magazine photographer best known for his images of the Civil Rights Movement, photojournalist W. Eugene Smith, best known for his Life magazine work and photojournalist Garry Winogrand, a 3-time Guggenheim Fellowship winner.

After leaving school, I assisted a number of photographers. I printed for Bob Adelman (darkroom printing, you remember film?), another was shooting still life and corporate photography, and another specialized in College brochures. So, I had a pretty well rounded start. 3 years later I decided to open my own studio and found one on the upper west side that was underground with a skylight. (Hard to believe?) It was really tough at the beginning, but I didn’t give up: I was totally motivated to be a professional photographer. I eventually got to photograph actors and model portfolios, musician headshots and group photos, some college brochures and anything folks would hire me for. I always felt that, “who you know”, and “being in the right place at the right time,” was really how I got most of my jobs. “When preparation meets opportunity, success is inevitable.” And talent helps. I ended up photographing for a number of “Men’s” magazines such as Penthouse and the like, as well as over 300 paperback book covers.

After I got married in 1980, I decided to partner with my brother and an old friend in an ice cream company venture in Connecticut. After 4 years, the ice cream venture didn’t work out and I got a job with a gourmet and specialty food distributor as a sales rep. We had a baby boy in 1987 and I stuck with the food distributor for many years. During that time, I never stopped taking pictures, from boutique weddings, portraits and personal work. Unfortunately, my wife passed away in ’95 from breast cancer when my son was only 8 years old. It was an awful time in our life.

Years later while shoveling snow after a 28-inch snowfall with my son, I said to him, “This is the last time we’re shoveling this driveway.” He turns to me and said, with glee, “What? Are we getting a snow blower?” I laughed and said, “NO, we’re getting out of Dodge!” Two years later in 2004, I moved to Southern California and set up a studio there. I couldn’t have been happier!

In 2007 I decided to take a course in Food Photography and Food Styling. At the photography course, I befriended Cindy Epstein, a woman who wanted to be a food stylist, and after the weekend course, we started to practice, practice, and practice. We practiced for months together, until we felt we got it right. We are still at it, with clients from San Diego to LA. We’ve done numerous jobs together including 6 cookbooks. I’ve always had the travel bug and decided to do some travel photography. (I’m a closet National Geographic photographer). I’ve traveled and photographed in Ethiopia, Israel, Myanmar, Romania and India.

For me, there is no plan “B.”

Oh, and my son? He got married to a wonder woman with a baby on the way.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My most major challenge was being a single father, bringing up my son after his mom died when he was 8.

My most recent challenge is trying to be a successful Food Photographer in a very competitive field.

Carl Kravats Photography – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My awareness with food started from growing up with a mother who was a gourmet cook and self-taught nutritionist, (Boy, was I a lucky guy). I attended The Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, NY. Marketed and sold gourmet and health food products, and was a partner in a Gourmet Ice Cream company. With this background, I understand food as a consumer, the importance of nutrition, creative marketing, packaging concepts, wholesaling, branding and promotion. Besides my extensive background in photography, I bring all this to the table as a Food Photographer.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment is when I got my first cookbook job. I knew then that someone liked my photography enough to want me to photograph their book. Very exciting.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Carl Kravats Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Max Stonemountain

    February 14, 2018 at 03:46

    Having Carl Kravats in our lives has been an experience that one could only hope for! Creative, curious, ingenious energetic and colorful are just SOME of the traits and superlatives that describe him! Knowing an artist who grows and changes makes it even more exciting. He’s the joint! And he’s the cherry on top.

  2. R. Aremes

    February 14, 2018 at 13:52

    Fine photography, and a neat story! I’d buy all the food if it were on a menu I was ordering from!

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