Hazelnuts on Wood Cutting Board

Hazelnuts on Wood Cutting Board

I began my food photography portfolio with an exploration of unprepared, whole foods. As a Vegetarian for 25 years of both cooked and raw foods, I am inspired by their life-giving properties. Here, they tell the story of their aliveness and connection to the Earth.

Nutrition and Use

Nuts are a very concentrated source of energy. (Duyff) And hazelnuts are no exception, with their 81% fat content. (Nutrition Data) They help placate hunger by making us feel full, as it takes fats longer to leave our stomach than carbohydrates and proteins. As an ingredient, fat carries flavor. They also bring a smooth and creamy texture to foods. (Duyff) So, these sweet, rich, nuts are used in a great variety of confections, as well as in savory foods such as salads and main dishes. (Herbst)

Harvesting and Styling

Harvested from the hazel tree, hazelnuts are grown commercially in moderate climates around the world. (Herbst) Both its outer hard shell and inner seed have a wood grain pattern. The seed’s delicate skin easily breaks off, showing the creamy center. Here, I placed them on an Architec end grain wood cutting board to draw out their orchard roots.

Camera Angle

With my Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens, I scale our handful of nuts to show a focused moment before preparation. The depth of field brings out the abundant range of textures.


Positioned above and to the left, my Broncolor Unilite 1600 with an umbrella attachment gives me the diffuse light I sought to bring out the volume and texture of the nuts and the cutting board wood grain, all without without glare. The strong shadows create separation with the cutting board and emphasize the nut shapes, allowing them to pop from their similar-patterned background.


Here we have a simple, intimate read of the qualities of this versatile nut. This food photography and lighting style is a valuable resource for sustainable commercial food presentations such as packaging, cookbooks, advertising, and editorial.


Duyff, Roberta Larson. American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 3rd Edition. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006.

Herbst, Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron. The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion. Hauppauge: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 2009.

Nutrition Data. Nutrient Search Tool. 2011. Conde Nast Digital. 30 July 2011 <http://nutritiondata.self.com/>.

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