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Photo alum finds passion in NYC


Behind the mouthwatering photographs of glistening garlic shrimp and steaming baked lasagna on the pages of Rachael Ray’s latest cookbook is a team of behind-the-scenes artists responsible for everything from the precise preparation and placement of the food on the plate to the artfully arranged props setting the mood for each photograph. 


One of those artists is Ivone Moutela, a New York City photographer and prop stylist who earned both business administration and photography degrees from UNF before heading to the big city to further her career. 


A former photographer for UNF’s Marketing and Publications Department, Moutela moved to Newark, N.J., in 2006 and began assisting photographers in the city, including her cousin Armando Rafael. She quickly earned a reputation as a hard worker with a can-do attitude and obvious talent, leading to some pretty impressive solo photography jobs. 


“My first big job was for Elle magazine, to shoot a still-life promotional ad for Armani,” Moutela said. “It was the first time I had the chance to be the actual photographer during a big photo shoot, and it was pretty amazing to see my work printed in Elle.”  


Moutela also traveled to Mexico to shoot photos for Orbas, an international architectural magazine, and to Palm Springs, Calif., to assist photographers shooting for South Coast Plaza. “The shoot in Palm Springs was quite an experience,” she said. “We were in the middle of the desert and it was so cold and windy, yet we were shooting this Cartier diamond necklace that was glowing in the wind. The whole time I was thinking ‘So this is how they do it!’” 


Through her assignments as a commercial photographer, Moutela learned that her real passion lies in fine-art photography, which allows her much more creative freedom. To pay for her “spare-time” passion, though, she continues to work primarily as a prop stylist for magazines like Food & Wine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Country Living and Prevention.   


As a prop stylist, she sets up the scene for the photographer, purchasing or renting just the right tablecloth, silverware, plate, furniture or other props to create the desired look for the shoot. She’s styled cookbook photos for Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse, Giada de Laurentiis and Machiko Chiba — and was thrilled to have recently met Jerry Seinfeld while on the set styling Jessica Seinfeld’s latest cookbook. 


Moutela’s passion lies in an alternative black-and-white photography process called lith printing, producing photos exhibiting a grainy effect, dark shadows and soft highlights. “The appeal of it to me is that the images look like vintage photos — and I love spending time in the darkroom creating one-of-a-kind pieces.”  


It’s this type of work that got Moutela noticed at UNF in 2004. Photo professor Dominick Martorelli was one of several who convinced Moutela to follow her passion and study photography. “Ivone was such a gifted and poetic photographer and I’m not at all surprised that she’s grown as much as she has,” he said. “I’m so pleased for her that my heart is jumping for delight at her wonderful success.”  


Moutela’s artwork has recently appeared in solo shows at the C.R.E.A. Gallery, 33 Street Gallery, SCP Gallery and MOMPOU Tapas Bar & Lounge, all in Newark, and at O’Donnell’s Pub in Harrison, N.J. Her work has also been accepted for the Brooklyn Renegade Art Fair in June. To see some of her work, go to