Behind the Scenes with Chloe

Chloe is our specialist food and drink photographer and is based at our new Manchester studio. We get a glimpse into life behind the lens, as she shares her top best photography practices along with her favourite food to shoot and more.

What do you do day to day?

My role is quite varied. Every day is different. Some days I’ll be in the Manchester or Leeds studio shooting, for example, food for a packaging range or filming a recipe video for a social campaign. Other days I’ll be on location at a Manchester restaurant, capturing dishes for a new menu launch. The days I’m not on shoot, I’ll prepare for upcoming photoshoots, sourcing the perfect props and backgrounds or working on a retouch job for a client.

What are your top best photography practices?

Firstly, it’s to get the exposure right. Ultimately, photography is all about controlling light. Making sure the aperture, shutter speed and ISO marry up to make a perfectly exposed image is key. If using flash, I make sure that all ambient light is removed from the exposure first to avoid strange unwanted colour casts or pings of lights on plates.

My second ‘best practice’ is more like an obsession which is image naming and organisation! Making sure my photography session is set up to rename and categorise images as I go along is so important to me. It helps make processing quick and easy at the end of a shoot and allows me to come back to the images 6 months later and know exactly where to find what I’m looking for.

And finally, I like to get creative! There’s no ‘one way’ to light or shoot something, so I like to spend time experimenting. It’s often how I create my best work and is a great way to keep learning on the job.

Do you have a favourite dish that you like to shoot?

Good question. I love shooting all kinds of foods for different reasons, picking a favourite would be like picking my favourite cat! I do love a good stack of pancakes, mainly because it gives me a chance to get some serious drizzle-porn shots. Contrary to popular opinion, I also love shooting curries and Asian dishes. They’re known to be tricky due to their yellow/orange/brown colour range, but I enjoy how you can get a bit more colourful and creative with the styling on these shots.

What does a typical day on shoot look like for you?

My day starts at around 8:30am with a catch up over coffee with Andrew (Production Manager). I’ll revisit the brief for the day and get the camera and lights set up, ready for the client’s arrival at around 9am. I’ll run through the brief with the client and food stylist and we’ll decide on a running order for the day. We’ve got a big range of props in the studio, so shot-by-shot we’ll pick out the best plates, bowls and cutlery and choose a selection of backgrounds which sit in line with the brief. Generally, we’ll shoot around 6 recipes in the day, as we really pay attention to the detail which is so important. At the end of the day, I’ll process the image files ready for the client or our post-production team, depending on the job.

What do you enjoy most about the new Manchester studio?

I’m loving the open plan space. It feels light and bright and enables a smooth working process between art direction, kitchen, props, studio and post-production teams.

Where do you take creative inspiration from?

Food is my passion, so magazines, cookbooks and blogs are where it’s at. Eating out is a great source of inspiration too, as it gives me insight into what other people are cooking and how they’re serving it. Sometimes an idea will come from a piece of crockery or background texture. More often than not, I have to be pulled away from homeware stores or crockery aisles, as I get a bit excited about how good a certain bowl or plate would look in front of the camera.

What do you do in your downtime?

I like to keep myself busy outside of work. I spend my evenings at a Manchester aerial gymnastics studio, practicing aerial rope or circuit training at my local gym. I’m also learning to speak Polish, so I enjoy chatting on the phone to my language partner in Poland. I love spending time at home cuddling and playing with my 2 cats and socialising with my newly rescued kitten.

Can you give us insight into what you like the most about food photography?

My favourite part about food photography is that shoots are never the same. All food behaves and shoots differently and there’s no one way to shoot or style a certain dish. It’s great to work alongside food stylists and clients to bring a creative vision to life. Seeing the final outcome on the screen, knowing that it came from a pile of ingredients a couple of hours beforehand, really is the best feeling.

Thoughts from the Eat & Breathe kitchen

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