I suppose my passion for food photography started from a combination of a few different things growing up.
The majority of my family consists of artistic, creative, musical, and generally spirited people. I think that this probably had an affect on me my siblings and also my cousins growing up, some how nearly all of us have gone on to practice art or play music to one extent or another.
My mum had a camera that she would let me use and my granddad actually gave me his 35mm Nikon FM2 camera, which I still use now.
I think as I started to show an interest my family began to slightly nudge me in the right direction and essentially support what I enjoyed doing.
Between the ages of 16-18 I had done a few basic and low pay commissions, mainly for people that I already knew of or had friends of friends with. I think nearly all of them were portraits or music related.
The Challenge of Photographing Food
I enjoy photographing food; I like the challenge of trying to communicate a realistic sense of atmosphere for each establishment that I have worked with.
For example, I have photographed food for restaurants, bars, and also hospitals. Each of them have completely different qualities that need to be highlighted within the images I take.
A hospital may want to show off the healthier aspects of their menu in more of a simplistic manor. However a bar/restaurant will probably want to show their best selling meals with the incorporation of their own independent character or style.
An important part of it for me is talking to and trying to understand the people employing me. Even if they are not completely sure on what sort of images they want, usually by talking to them and looking at the way they present themselves and their food you can get a slight sense of what they are all about, which can definitely help make the photographs.
Achievements and Difficulties
First, successfully finishing my degree was something I didn’t always think I would be able to achieve. Writing, spelling, staying focussed and generally following instructions has always been something I have struggled with so actually having a degree is pretty crazy.
I’m also pretty proud that I am using photography as a means of earning a living and being able to work with big commercial names such as Spire and Nova Healthcare, Dorothy Perkins, and other Arcadia brands. This was something I also thought at times would not actually be possible.
It’s great to have someone express a genuine interest in my personal work and to then be prepared to actually spend money on it.
However, I don’t think anything is ever easy or completely straightforward, no matter what profession you are in. There is always something that can make everything a bit more complicated; be it personal, someone trying to delay payments, equipment getting damaged, making hard decisions, or working nearly 24 hours in a day.
It’s all character building?
Useful tips for people interested in photography
Just do it, enjoy it, try it and say yes. You’ll learn a lot more by putting yourself outside of your comfort zone and you’ll find that by doing so a lot more opportunities can lead from it.
- Gain initial experience by utilising your closer network of friends and family, this will not earn you money but the skills learned here are essential.
- Try and avoid working for free, avoid businesses and people who want you to work for free. Photography and art in general needs to be valued a lot more. Even If you charge a minimum wage at least you are not shooting yourself and everyone else starting out in the foot.
For now I want to start finding more of a balance between commercial and personal / self-driven work. For the last year or two I have only carried out commercial work, but I think I am starting to get closer to being able to create a balance between both.
In the long run, I like the idea of having my own studio to continue with portraiture and food photography and I have always wanted to work on film stills or even cinematography but I feel like that’s a long way off yet.
But overall I want to create more self-lead, personal projects.
To get in contact with Jed Dunton and to see more of his fantastic work please visit his website https://www.jeddunton.co.uk/or his instagram @jed_dunton.
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