If you’re looking for a fun and creative photography niche to pursue, then food photography is certainly one you should consider. Blending together your technical skills with your creative flair, you’ll find yourself shooting all sorts of food, from bright, fresh ingredients, to quirky cakes and intricate dishes. Food photography is all about capturing the appealing features of food in a way that entices others to want to try it.
Food photography consists of a few different areas, and you can even combine your photography skills with other areas, to truly make the most of your love of food. This is something which UK food photographer, Joan Ransley, has spent many years developing.
Her lifelong passion for food has seen her pursue a career in all things food related. From her time as a lecturer in human nutrition through to establishing herself as a professional food photographer and food writer. We’ve been speaking with Joan to hear more about her years of experience in the food photography industry and what lessons she could offer beginner photographers in the niche.
What made you want to become a photographer?
It all began when I was working as a feature writer, writing mainly about food and I needed images to go with my copy.
What made you decide to focus on food photography?
I have always been interested in food and have worked in nutrition education and research. Food was a natural subject for me to pursue.
What kit do you usually take with you on a shoot?
- Canon 5D Mark IV DSLR
- A 24 - 70mm, f 2.8 lens
- A 50mm f1.4 lens
I also use a Fujifilm X Series X-T1 compact system camera with a 35mm and 16mm lens.
What are the key components of any food photography shoot?
Planning and organisation. Understanding what the client wants and helping them to achieve exactly that. Sprinkle that with some of your own creativity and you will fly.
What advice would you give to budding photographers who are interested in pursuing food photography?
Practice as much as you can. Identify great photographers and go on a course with them. Get as much experience as you can and read the instruction book for all the new gear you buy!
Why should budding photographers choose a career in food photography?
They should only choose this career if they are passionate about food and can work hard, both physically and mentally. You need stamina to develop your skills and succeed.
How do you prepare before carrying out a shoot? What considerations do you have to make?
I have a shoot list, a brief and I am well organised. I will also have done a lot of picture research to make sure my head is full of ideas. Finally, I check that all my equipment is working.
How do you stay inspired with your food photography?
I read lots of books on photography, I look at the work of my mentors and I go to new places and keep myself open to new opportunities.
How has the style of food photography changed during your career?
It changes all the time… and in different media. When budgets are tight, editors go for a more simple pared down look, as props and food are expensive.
What tricks of the trade can you tell us about to make food look more appetising in photographs?
Keep it fresh - food styling is key and beautiful light is essential.
A huge thanks from us to Joan for speaking to us about her time as a food photographer. If you would like to see more of Joan’s work, head over to her site where you can discover more about her writing, food styling and photography workshops, too.