June 10, 2017

Vintage Imperfections: A Q+A with Rebecca Firth of Displaced Housewife

This week, we’re sitting down with another influential blogger in the food community, Rebecca Firth of Displaced Housewife. Although new to food photography, Rebecca’s style represents the more moody and imperfect moments in life. When it comes to props and styling, she opts for more vintage and rustic pieces, which you can find in most of her baking shots.

Read on to learn more about her food passion and make sure to check out how she styles Propped pieces too!

What inspires your photography?

Food! I absolutely love to photograph food…mostly sweets. I also like when it looks like it’s in the process of getting eaten. But that said, I’m so new to photography, I think half the time I’m just trying to imagine what I want the shot to be and then trying to make that happen. And then usually my favorite photo is the one I take after I’m done photographing everything and it’s all a hot mess and nothing is staged. And then I’m like, YES, this is it.

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How would you explain your photography and blogging style?

Oh gosh…hmm…I would say for photography I tend to go a little moodier than I am in real life? I like things to be clean, not too busy and definitely not perfect. I always like a bite taken out of something or a hand grabbing to give it some life. I love it when I can put my kid’s hands in the photos. As for blogging, I want people to feel like we’re having a conversation…like I’m right next to them in the kitchen and we’re cooking or baking together.

How/when did you decide to start blogging?

I bought the URL for DisplacedHousewife in 2009 and just sat on it…I had no idea what I wanted to do with it. And then in 2014 (seriously, that many years later) my mom showed me that Sunset Magazine was looking for holiday recipes and she wanted me to send in my five-spice cranberry appetizer. It’s really delicious with goat cheese and thyme on crostini and I did and THEY BOUGHT IT. The next week I threw my website together and I’ve been putting recipes up ever since. It all happened at just the right time.

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How did you choose your blog name?

I came up with the name back in 2006 when we moved to Beijing…I had this idea to write a book about my time there. The book didn’t happened, but I loved the name. And when we moved from Beijing to a small town just north of Santa Barbara, it still felt relevant.

What is your favorite recipe/photo you’ve posted on your social media or blog?

Ohhh, that’s a tough one. I’m a huge fan of the cookie shot…I have no idea where that obsession came from, but I could photograph them all day and I hope people never get bored looking at them!! But I have to say, one of my favorites would be the Dark Chocolate Cake with Champagne Buttercream that I made for Lindt Chocolate for the Golden Globes. They wanted something bright and so I threw lots of flowers on top and painted it with gold leaf. It’s one of those photos that I still love looking at it.

What is your favorite piece in your prop collection right now?

I would have to say I’m obsessed with that cake pedestal I got from you guys! This is totally unprompted, I swear…but I have seriously had to restrain how many times I’ve wanted to put a photo with it on my Instagram. I love the color of it, the way it looks against marble… Second to that would be my vintage madeleine tin. LOVE.

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Is there any maker you’re particularly fond of?

I’m OBSESSED with vintage stuff…I love Ovenex. For more current I would say Farmhouse Pottery and Polders Old World Market… The measuring spoons and biscuit cutters from Facture Goods are BEYOND. And can I also add Erickson Woodworks/Surfaces? I wish I could have one of each.

Are there any makers that have influenced your food photography/style?

Umm, this isn’t sexy, but I would have to say Ovenex. I love that old, hammered and thrashed look…contrasted with a really clean background.

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How do you choose your props?

If it’s a special project for a brand, then I’ll think through what I want the different shots to look like and then I’ll start hunting for different pieces. Otherwise, I’m very conservative when buying stuff. Sometimes I’ll see something on Instagram and then I’ll have to go find it for myself. Or it could be an obsession with color…I love blues so I might realize I’m missing a particular shade of blue and then it’s all I can think about: finding that perfect blue cloth napkin. Sometimes my mom will look through fabric scraps and make them for me.

How much work goes into finding props for your particular style?

I think if we didn’t have the Internet, it would take a lifetime. I feel like most things are pretty easily found online these days.

What are your favorite seasonal ingredients to use?

During late fall and winter it’s probably the same as most other bakers…using pumpkin, figs and apples and then moving towards cranberries and pecans and five-spice around the holidays…but my favourite time of year is when I’ve planted my garden and everything is in bloom. Right now, all I can think about are berries and cherries. End story.

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What kitchen items would you not be able to live without?

My electric stand mixer. Done. I’m lazy. What else? A classic wooden spoon. Love. Oh, and glass bowls… I love photographing process shots in clear glass bowls because it lets all the light in. My pastry blender + bench scraper for scones and pies…my big cutting board…my favorite knife…and cake pedestals…you can never have too many cake pedestals. All the pretty things. I’ll take one of everything.

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(Photo taken by Stella Firth-Wang)

Follow Rebecca’s vintage imperfections by checking out her Instagram at @displacedhousewife!