Taking photographs of food, whether for personal or professional reasons, can be rewarding, challenging and involve lots of other professionals.
Programmed in the context of the Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography exhibition, photographer Yuki Sugiura and Art Director Yasia Williams Leedham offer tips on the theme of ‘food photography. This event forms part of our regular networking event series for photographers called The Social.
Advice from Yasia Williams Leedham:
Know your industry: Don’t meet with someone before ensuring your work is right for them. Do your research ahead of time.
Be Seen – in printed portfolio and online: Some people in the industry want to see work printed because how it is printed and cropped really matters. Others are happy to see work online. If you’re presenting face-to-face, think about a range of 20-25 of your best photos that show what you can do.
Know your worth: Publishing as an industry will pay different daily rates to say magazine or advertising work. Know how these different industries pay. At the same time, understand the project before taking it on – get all the information about how many days, what’s expected, how many photographs, do you need to hire studios, etc – so you can work out an adequate fee ahead of the shoot.
Be willing to collaborate: Working in food photography is about being part of a team – photographer, author, prop stylist, art director, editor. The best results happen when a team works well together.
Know your style but be adaptable: Be prepared to move your style into different areas, but keep it prominent in your portfolio. If you’re not comfortable working in a particular way, don’t take the job on.
Advice from Yuki Sugiura:
Lighting: Learn to use as many lighting techniques as possible. Observe light and shadow. Observe what light does to food. There are no set rules, no rights and wrongs. Keep learning and experimenting.
Styling and composition: Imagine the story well in order to create a scene that looks interesting and believable. You’re quite often left alone with a box of props so your imagination is the important starting point – learn about the food and the tableware. Know what you’re supposed to achieve. Be creative and don’t rely on formulas.
Love food: Have a passion and respect for food in all aspects. Without great food, we cannot capture great food shots, so collaborate well with the people who provide you the food. Love food, don’t forget to appreciate and and take responsibility for it - for an example, try hard not to waste the food.
Yuki Sugiura is a London-based food and lifestyle photographer. She studied ceramics and graphic design at Camberwell college of Arts in London where she mostly worked on projects about food, space and society using ceramics, printmaking and photography. She read more cookbooks than artbooks at college. Her work regularly appears in various editorial and commercial platform across the UK and the world including Guardian Feast and FT magazine.
Since 2004, Yasia Williams Leedham has worked as Art Director with Octopus Publishing on a wide variety of food and wine books, including ‘The Icecreamists’, two ‘Rosa’s Thai’ books, and three 'The Vintage Tea Party' books. She has also been a judge with the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year for the past four years.