Yesterday, I had the great privilege of joining photographer, Cristian Barnett on a food shoot. This was one of my photography goals for 2012 as I wanted to know what a food photographer really does – maybe it is nothing like I expected and would actually hate it. But this was not the case. On the drive into London, Cristian made his case for food photography….not that it took any effort as I could clearly see that he thoroughly enjoys it. Last year, it comprised about 80-90% of his work and while he is always looking for a new challenge he finds it incredibly rewarding for a number of reasons. First of all, the people are amazing – which I discovered first hand. The shoot was at the home of the home economist.
First lesson- what is a home economist? You know somebody has to do it but who? The home economist prepares the food to be photographed. On the other hand, the Food stylist often only gives ideas for what the shot should look like (dishes and utensils), drops of the props and then leaves. This is common in London because why would you want to pay another person to be there all day when you also have an art director, photographer and home economist there say what looks good or what doesn’t.
Not only that, but the home economist had an assistant as did the photographer and they really were, all amazing people. As opposed to weddings or portraits food seems to have a much more laid back approach. While Sanil was very organized in preparing the dishes and always had something ready when the camera was ready, not all home economists are like that and Cristian said there was often a lot of waiting around. In most cases, however, the environment is not as stressful as other types of photography and you can only work for as long as you have daylight and are usually limited to Monday through Friday.
It was an amazing and thoroughly enjoyable experience. And while the jury is still out on what I want to be when I grow up, I learned a lot about what goes into creating a cookbook and what it takes to become a food photographer.