Brooklyn-based food & event photographer Clay Williams brings his discerning eye to some of the world’s most celebrated publications. Now he’s talking to The Best Of Everything New York (TBOENY) about his professional journey thus far and the importance of co-creating Black Food Folks.
What started as a “release from the office world” has evolved into capturing food-related moments for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and James Beard Foundation. Whether it’s a talented chef plating a meal, a server delivering a main course, or a mixologist concocting a masterpiece, Clay Williams puts himself in the perfect positions to see detail and nuance that otherwise might go unnoticed.
Over a decade ago, Clay found himself working in media IT along with pursuing his passions of food and photography. He spent lunch hours on the streets of midtown Manhattan snapping shots of food trucks while his weekends were filled with butchering sessions and his own food experimentation. “If you really love something you will put in the work to get better,” Clay says. He knew this was something he wanted to do longterm and taking time to understand all the moving parts of the food service industry was necessary.
Clay’s photos bring truth to their subjects. They portray actions and items in a realistic manner, almost like a documentary. Clay is passionate about his pictures telling an interesting story. He sets the scene, with minimal staging, and puts himself in place to snap just the right moments. Some of his experiences have been documented in the books 111 Rooftops In New York That You Must Not Miss and 111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss.
In 2019, Clay co-founded Black Food Folks with fellow culinary professional, Colleen Vincent. What started as a conversation about self expression and representation has grown into a platform that supports black excellence and contribution in food and beverage. With networking events, IG Live/Zoom Sessions, and robust social media, Black Food Folks has become a community hub that amplifies black voices. They are thriving through COVID-19 due to their masterful online presence and they look to keep that momentum going into next year..
Clay hopes that Black Food Folks will continue to bring people together post COVID-19. He also looks forward to shooting in-person events and getting back to the restaurants and bars around New York that he loves. Check out some of Clay’s favorite spots and follow him on instagram:
Best New York Bar: Quarter Bar in Sunset Park, Bklyn. Neighborhood watering hole with a comfy backyard garden.
Best New York Museum: International Center of Photography Museum in downtown Manhattan. Fantastic exhibits.
Best New York Park: Sunset Park in Brooklyn. Unique vantage point where one can see from Newark Airport all the way up to the Chrysler building, including a great of of the Statue of Liberty.