Heading in to your favorite restaurant and sitting down to enjoy an excellent meal prepared by a great chef is the best way to experience food. This, however, is not the only way a chef can seduce you with their culinary delights. For many of us, we are either lured into hot new food spots or must salivate from afar viewing many worldly dishes from exquisite and hard-won photographs. Like great cuisine itself, professional food photography is another form of art, and it is often overshadowed by the ubiquitous amount of “foodie papparazzi” we see constantly in restaurants. Not to mention the hilariously but mainly gag-worthy “home chef creations” relentlessly uploaded to social media and consisting of many dishes like tater tot casserole and Mom’s Famous Meatloaf with REAL tomato ketchup. An A for effort but when it comes to Professional Food Photography, capturing both the beauty and the essence of a great dish takes hard work, precision, dedication and a lot of talent. Taking a glimpse of a perfectly photographed dish can put you into a world that is both sumptuous and beguiling and have you feeling like a cartoon character being lifted into the air by wafting plumes of savory vapors. Our magazine recently honored a great photographer. Meet the winner of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional & Nomic’s charity photo contests, Amelinda Lee. She used her pro-photography skills to help raise $3,000 for the local food charity Three-Square.

How did you get into photography?

I’ve always had an interest in photography from a young age. I’d bring a camera to school every day and capture anything that caught my attention. About five years ago, I started getting requests from friends for various photo work and realized that I should turn my passion into a career.

What best catches the essence of food?

A great angle and the perfect amount of light.

What are some tips that you can give to the novice?

My advice is to keep learning and evolving. You’ll have your own style, but it’s great to try new techniques and possibly integrate them into your own. Don’t get stuck in what you think you know.

What do you love about Vegas?

I love the extravagance of Las Vegas and I love the accessibility to amazing food and entertainment. The best part is the ability to easily return to quiet suburban living at the end of the day. Also, our versions of staycations are substantially better than most vacations!

Why can you say about the LV food & beverage scene?

It’s exciting. More restaurateurs are focusing on in-season products and in turn, constantly tweaking their menus. Plus, we’re seeing a lot more of these amazing cocktail menus and availability of micro craft beers, many from local breweries.

Have you had any photography experiences that have gone wrong and how have you handled it?

No matter how much you plan, there will be mishaps. The best thing you can do is roll with it. There’s always another way.

Also, where are you from? How long have you been here? Where have you worked?

I was born and raised in Hawaii, however, I’ve been in Las Vegas for 14 years. I used to work in sales, retail management, and most recently, banking. Quite different from what I do now!