Meet the Food Stylist and Photographer Making Glam Digital Content Accessible for Everyone

published Mar 8, 2022
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Diana Yen of A La CARTE
Credit: Diana Yen

Marketing and branding are some of the hardest parts about owning a small business. Eye-catching photos and digital content are key for making an impression in the food and lifestyle industry, but most creators don’t have the skills, time, or equipment to make it happen. And booking a photographer to do it for you can be just as intimidating. Diana Yen understands this better than most — as a professional food stylist and photographer, she knows the ins and outs of what makes a successful photoshoot. She also understands the barriers to entry.

That’s why Yen started her business, A La CARTE, a creative studio that aims to make quality visual content accessible for everyone. Her three-step method is simple but rare: demystify pricing, work collaboratively with clients, and deliver polished visual storytelling assets that will help take food, beverage, and lifestyle brands to the next level. Based in Ojai, California, A La CARTE works with clients all over the country — and with each new frame, Yen is transforming the food photography industry for the better.

Credit: Diana Yen

As a food stylist and photographer working in New York City, Yen witnessed common pain points for clients looking to book a shoot. How many photos did they need? What was a fair price for pictures? What style or aesthetic was right for their brand? Feeling frustrated at the lack of transparency, Yen founded A La CARTE — which offers a flat-rate pricing structure that’s easy to understand

Looking for just a single image — perhaps a stellar photo to use on the front page of your website? You can book that. Need a few more options to flesh out your marketing materials? A half-day shoot will be better. Hoping to come away with a cache of content for newsletters, social media, and more? You’ll want to hire Yen for a full-day shoot. Each package is clearly explained, from pricing to deliverables, on A La CARTE’s website. There are also custom add-ons, like content created for Reels and GIFs, so brands and creators can customize a package that’s just right for their needs.

Credit: Diana Yen

All of this is what makes A La CARTE one of the most revolutionary food and lifestyle photography businesses in the industry today. But more importantly, it’s what drives Yen and her two sisters who work alongside her. Capturing your brand’s essence is not easy, and Yen realizes that. Removing the barriers to understanding food photography is one of the most important ingredients to getting what you want. 

With that in mind, Yen created three different visual categories to choose from: Color Theory, which features bold and bright hues; Au Naturale, a down-to-earth aesthetic; and Graphic Play, a whimsical, playful approach that’s anything but ordinary. Better still, you can browse pictures in each category. The more you look, the more you’ll learn about your style. After that, the fun begins (read: working with A La CARTE and their *extensive* prop collection to create jaw-dropping images for your brand).

Credit: Diana Yen

While Yen’s client list reads like a who’s-who in the food media landscape (Psst: Kitchn is a client!), she’s passionate about reaching individual creators and people working within a limited budget. “Community” is more than a buzzword for Yen, too: She cites it as an inspiration and driving force for A La CARTE, choosing local produce and props whenever possible. 

Perhaps the reason Yen is so perfectly suited for this line of work is because she’s been through the trials of starting and running two different companies. “Businesses are flexible,” Yen says. “They can grow with who you are.” One thing’s for sure, though: It’s definitely a lot easier to evolve and shift with the help of companies like A La CARTE.