Think first shoot second

All photographers develop a style of their own – thank goodness!

finished chocolate fondant

Most of my work revolves around food – growing, processing, cooking, plating and eating it. I use available light where I can (to make the food look as natural as possible) and try to get plenty of energy and passion into the finished image (to reflect the work of those who’ve grown, cooked, served it etc.). I favour the really close-up look, usually shooting with the lens wide open so that there’s pleasing bokeh (the out of focus part).

wedding cupcake

When anyone commissions me, they have a pretty good idea how I work, what sort of eye I have and what sort of images I can deliver for them. But then I listen carefully to what they have to say – what is the purpose of the shoot? Is it to make someone feel hungry? Is it to sell a product off the page (or website)? Is it to show them how to cook/prepare an item? Or is it simply to show off a chef’s skills?

chef, rock a nore, webbe’s

The client’s requirements clearly have a bearing on how I’ll approach the shoot – the aim is to meld my style with their needs in a way that everyone’s happy with. If it’s a commission for a producer that makes “home-made” ready meals, the images need to convey that “cooked by mum” look – that might mean an emphasis on burnt-on gravy, messy plates and bubbling quiches.

serving fish pie

If it’s for a Knightsbridge fine-dining establishment then it’s quite the opposite! But even here, I want the food to look like it’s actually been served in a restaurant and not a sterile studio with a bleached white background. In both cases the briefs differ but I’m still able to bring my own style into play. It’s all about thinking first, shooting second.

crispy crab cake, the berkeley

With this image of a cheese soufflé, as usual I wanted to get in close. The client wanted it shot in a way that a typical customer might serve it – with some salad leaves. However, this meant the soufflé getting lost in the greenery. Some thought was required.

cheese soufflé

We placed the soufflé on a pad of Post-it notes. Now you know it’s there it’s obvious – but would you have spotted it otherwise?

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