I loved doing this interview with my sweet online cake friend Linda Lomelino of the excruciatingly brilliant food blog Call Me Cupcake. You know when a photograph of a cake makes you catch your breath, then cry in buttercream beauty-pain? No? Yes? Yes – that’s what Linda’s artful, dramatic, achingly solitary and downright salivation-inducing photos do to me, every single time.
Linda and I have been online cake pals since around 2009, when we first started blogging across the world from each other but found each other via Flickr – but this interview is the first time where I realized that perhaps we are more than just cake-loving twins – her response to her FAVOURITE MOVIES just about murdered me with cuteness. The girl loves comedy. We are both goths who make cakes and like corny jokes, living a world away! I was truly touched by the genuine, honest and open answers Linda responded with. I feel a little closer to ya, lady! So here you go: a very special interview with the one and only Linda Lomelino!
Where were you born, Linda? Please describe where you live for us!
Born and raised in Halmstad, a small city on the Swedish west coast (but still, Sweden’s 20th biggest city with almost 60 000 inhabitants, wohoo!). I still live here today actually. I think I both love and hate living here for some reason. It would be fun to live in a bigger city, but I still like living in a small town. My dream is to have a house here so I can live here during the summer because I LOVE the Swedish summer (when it’s not raining) and an apartment somewhere else during the rest of the year.
As a child, what did you want to do as a career when you grew up?
Well, in the 90s I wanted to be an FBI-agent (I watched waaay too much X-files) or a fire fighter, hehee. Then I wanted to be an actress. Then I wanted to work in fashion. Now I realize that those careers probably wouldn’t suit me at all. So I’m sticking to my cakes and my camera.
What did you do before you began baking? How did you start baking – considering you only baked twice a year previously, what happened!?
I worked in a clothing store for years trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I tried many things like painting, having a fashion blog, sewing clothes but nothing really stuck. I studied photography in highschool but I never really tried food photography. Then in 2009, cupcakes caught my attention somehow so I tried making them and I was hooked. Of course I wanted to show off my pretty cupcakes so I took some photos and realized pretty quickly that I thought it was so much fun. About two weeks later I had a baking blog. I always LOVED eating baked goods but never ever wanted to join my mom in the kitchen.
I love that in the intro of your book, you describe how you get to combine your two loves – baking and photography. What’s your process for photographing a cake? Did you take up photography to document your baking or were you always a photographer?
Yes, it’s totally the best combination ever!! The process is really different for every cake I make and I’m probably way too impulsive when it comes to both baking and photography. I never really plan what I’m going to make, and it’s the same when I decorate my cakes. I can’t always see how I should decorate it before the cake itself is done (haha, do you understand what I mean here?). I want to use the word “whim” but I’m not really sure how. Hehe. But really, it’s complete chaos both in my home and in my head when I’m feeling creative. I can usually picture the styling in my head when the cake is done, sometimes it comes out just the way I imagined it and sometimes it doesn’t. As I mentioned before I took up photography in high school but I never really found my thing back then even though I thought it was so much fun. It was pretty old school, shooting b/w film, developing film and so on, but I’m so thankful I had the chance to do that and I took so many photos of my younger brothers which they will be thankful for when they are older. Then after high school, some years passed before my mom gave me a camera (I think it was on my 23rd birthday or something), then I took up photography again.
Your style has evolved to be so artful, lively, almost painterly-like when it comes to colour and composition. How do you approach baking and its subsequent photography/styling?
Aww, thank you! I think I answered some of this in the previous question, and as I said I rarely have a plan when it comes to baking. I like styling more “artful” I guess, with lots of things happening in the picture – flowers and sometimes unexpected things like polaroids, vintage cameras, mini eiffel towers and toy cars. Surprisingly enough (I mean I wear all black clothes and our home is decorated in black, white and grey) I love lots of color in my photos.
Your photographs truly evoke certain moods and seasons, from romantic to darkly emotional (yes, even for a photo of a cake!). I love how much you incorporate flowers and nature in your styling – as well, you have a beautiful eye for using vintage props. How would you yourself define your cake aesthetic? How about your photography style?
I think you describe it very well! To me, “nordic melancholy” describes my photos pretty well. Maybe it sounds awful but I kind of like it. There is something bright and happy but still dark and moody in my photos. I think that is the contrast in the Nordic countries (and many other places too of course) both in the weather and how people act. The summer is just so bright and happy and colorful and people are outside and they are much more open. In the winter it’s really dark, only a few hours of light and people are mostly at home. I don’t know where I’m going with this really.. haha. I do love bringing in elements of nature in my photos, and that also reflects the seasons. In autumn and winter I would style with rose hip branches, spruce twigs and spruce cones for example and in spring and sum me with green elements and fresh flowers. As for my cake style, I don’t know. I like using natural styling like flowers and plants, chocolate and caramel sauce which actually makes the cakes look more difficult than they are. They’re so much more basic than you’d think! I love pouring chocolate sauce or caramel sauce on top of my cakes, makes everything look (and taste) so much better!
What are your favourite lenses? Favourite editing tools? I mostly use my 50mm/1.4 (and I have for four years now) but I recently bought a canon 24-70mm/2.8 which is amazing. I also use a 100 mm/2.8 macro lens for some close ups. I also have a wide angle lens but I rarely use that. I edit all my photos in camera raw and photoshop!
I know you also play music , and both you and your brother play in bands – where did your love of music come from? how does music and art inform your life?
Yes, that’s correct although I’m not so active at the moment. We’re mostly recording new stuff. I come from a family of musicians. My father plays the piano, guitar, he sings and records his own material. He and my mom used to be in a band together when I was a kid. My mom told me that when I was ver small I sometimes sat in her lap while she was on stage singing. I guess i must have liked it because I was apparently always quiet. So from an early age me and my brother would come along on their gigs. My dad has always been a night owl and I remember that he was always awake during the nights playing keyboard (with head phones of course) and I would find the sound of his fingers running over the keys very soothing. My brother started playing the guitar at an early age and at one point we were in a band together, he kind of forced me to join even if I couldn’t play, hehe. Now he has his own project called Summer Heart. He will actually do his first tour in America next year! And my fiancé is also a musician so you could say that all the people that are closest to me are musicians, haha! Our “office” at home is half music stuff (his side) and crap (my side). No just kidding, hehe. My side is mostly wooden boards and old cake pans and stuff. Well, crap to some people!
Who are some of your favourite bands, and films?
Oh my, that is one difficult question! I like Chromeo (Canada yaay!), iambear, Haim, Tycho, Summer Heart, Kavinsky, Bonobo, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald – all depending on my mood! And as for films I like 80’s movies such as Fletch (the soundtrack is awesome!) and Back To The Future. And I love The Intouchables. I also have to mention Home alone 1 & 2 and Elf as well. Elf is like my favorite movie of all time. Hehe. You can hear that I studied film, right?;-)
Which artists and photographers inspire you and why? (doesn’t have to be food or cake related!)
You’ve been an inspiration since the beginning Lyndsay! And Line Thit Klein is one of my favorite photographers, and she seems so incredibly nice as well! Actually, I find most of my inspiration on Instagram these days. My biggest inspirations on Instagram right now:
Hilde Morke: @hildemork78
Dagmar’s Kitchen: @dagmarskitchen
Ariel Alasko: @arielealasko
Little Upside Down Cake: @littleupsidedowncake
Elin Lannsjo: @elinlannsjo
The Artful Desperado: @artfuldesperado
Eva Kosmas Flores @evakosmasflores
And so many more…
Your book Lomelino’s Cakes has just come out in North America. Are you ready for worldwide domination?
Haha, worldwide domination doesn’t sound like my style but I’m so incredibly happy and thankful that it has finally come out in English. I’ve always felt that English is the language of my heart in a way. Maybe it sounds stupid, but I used to think in English when I was younger, haha!
What will people learn from your latest book, Sweet Food & Photography? I can’t wait until this one comes out in English! I considered buying the Swedish one for the photos alone.
This book is so very “me” if you know what I mean, in the recipes, styling and photography. It’s 47 of my very best recipes (if I counted correctly), everything from cheesecakes to layer cakes, cupcakes, donuts, cookies – everything! In this book I also share the knowledge that I have gained throughout these years of baking, photographing and styling. There are three smaller chapters about how to pipe buttercream roses on your cupcakes, how to frost the perfect cake, how to dye your fabric with blackberries, how to find props and how to photograph and style your creations for example. So it’s perfect for anyone who is looking for some advice on food photography and styling, but also for those who enjoy baking and looking at photos, because there are tons of photos in this one! And bokus.com actually ships to Canada, not to the US though!
What would be your last meal, from start to finish?
Oh, man! I don’t know if I’m able to answer that. But i’m gonna go with homemade pizza (but I would force a super skilled pizza baker to make it for me of course!) and Crème Brûlée for dessert. That combination makes no sense at all, but who cares? It’s my last meal, hehe.
One last question: What tips or advice would you give to bakers, stylists or photographers?
For photography I would start by exploring the light in your home. Try taking photos near different windows at different times during the day, it’s incredible how much the light can change from hour to hour (or sometimes even minute to minute!). I use some very basic tricks to manipulate the light in my photos, for example when I shoot “dark pictures” it goes a little something like this: I have three windows in my living room, two small and one big next to each other. To really focus the light on the motif I pull down the blinds in the big window and one of the small ones. This way I can manipulate where the light falls. A very easy trick! And when it’s very sunny out I use a white thin curtain in front of the window to soften the light. As for styling I would suggest getting a few backgrounds and props that you really love. I love dark backgrounds and vintage props. I have lots of stuff but I tend to use the same things over and over, and about 90% or more of my things are vintage/second hand. Just getting a new background can be really inspiring! Other than that my best advice is to have fun with it, experiment as often as you can. I always say that if you want to use a busy flowery fabric as a background with say striped plates, why not? As long as you think it looks good and you are confident with your choice, no one will question you!