Food photography is exceptionally fun and creative, combining styling elements with the technical components of photography. No two days will ever be the same, with so many different cuisines to capture.
Brisbane Food Photographer, David Griffen, has been shooting food around the world, and after an extensive career in the UK, has settled back in Australia, his country of origin.
From his kitchen studio in Cornwall, David shot images and animations for some of the biggest household brands. Most recently, David is travelling through Australia to shoot a personal project relating to their food harvests and how Australian restaurants are championing home-grown produce.
With a professional food photography career spanning more than 15 years, David reveals some of the food photography tips and tricks he’s learned during this time.
Read on to find out more about David’s food photography career and his experience in this exciting niche!
Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and the work that you do?
Before studying Commercial Photography in Australia I was training to be a chef. I have always loved both cooking and shooting, consequently food photography has been an enjoyable and challenging career path.
I shoot a lot of restaurant food and cook books, and until recently, ran a kitchen studio in Cornwall where we produced images, video and animation for brands such as Nestle and Sony Mobile.
We are currently on a 12-month road trip around Australia, shooting a personal project about the food being harvested and how it is being championed in the top restaurants of Australia.
Why did you choose to become a photographer?
I failed photography at high school, dropped out of art school and then university, and also quit training to become a chef - all before travelling to Europe on a gap year, where I bulk loaded a bunch of black and white film. Shooting, processing and printing this film is where I fell in love with the alchemy of photography, and finally completed a rigorous Commercial Photography Diploma. Photography has had me hooked now for 20 years.
What drew you to focus on food photography as your niche?
I originally was drawn to food photography when I arrived in the UK and was looking for a niche - no one was specialising in food at the time in the South West, so I made it my focus. With a previous background in working in kitchens to support myself through my photography study, it came quite naturally.
What equipment do you typically take with you on a shoot?
I travel a great deal to shoot in many of the top restaurants, and have refined my camera and lighting kit to be very light, transportable and quick to set up. I have replaced sections of the support rods and poles with carbon fibre sections. I use Elinchrom strobes to light the food, and shoot with both Nikon and Sony cameras with Zeiss lenses.
For a fantastic addition to any food photography kit, consider investing in one of our waterproof memory card cases, ideal for keeping your memory cards safe from any grease, water or excessive heat in the kitchen!
What are the key components of any food photography shoot?
Good lighting and a talented stylist or chef.
What words of wisdom would you give to budding photographers looking to focus on food photography?
Try not to look too much at what others are doing, focus on developing your own creativity and way of seeing. Limit your time spent on platforms like Instagram.
Why should budding photographers choose a career in food photography?
It is creatively satisfying and can pay well - if you are passionate about food and photography, it is a great career.
What’s the most enjoyable part of being a food photographer? What are the pitfalls?
Travelling to new places and discovering the local food culture through photography. This can take time away from family life, so I am always trying to find a balance between shoots on the road and studio work.
What do you try to portray to those that see your food photography?
I love shooting the natural beauty of produce and producing an honest and detailed representation of the food on the plate , to highlight the care and effort the chef has put into the dish. I love to capture the freshness, natural beauty and drama of food.
How did you develop your own unique photography style?
I have spent a long time researching lenses and lighting, and trying different setups. I have consciously avoided looking at the work of my contemporaries, as I did not want to be influenced. I focused on the food in front of me and met the challenge of how best to shoot it simply and quickly.
What are the biggest challenges that food photographers face?
As in any business there are plenty of challenges - competition, falling rates, licensing, availability of stock images, copyright infringement, appropriation, time constraints. For me as a father, one of the biggest challenges is to make sure I balance my time between working to support my family, and spending time with them before they grow up.
A big thank you to David for giving us such an in-depth insight into his food photography career. If you’re still searching for the photography niche that’s right for you, then visit the Peli UK Photography Hub, where you’ll find a wealth of information about a number of popular genres.
For an extra layer of protection for your delicate photography kit, don’t forget to take a look at our range of protective camera cases, ideal for keeping your kit clean, safe and dry.