Art of Food Photography : Production Paradise interview

Art of Food Photography dessert

I was fortunate to be asked by Production Paradise for an interview for their blog. The following is the full Q&A.............

art of food photography: production paradise interview

Stephen Conroy is a renowned London food photographer specialising in advertising, PR, packaging and editorial photography. His photography has been featured in many of the largest UK & global brands such as Heinz, Glenfiddich, Kinder, Knorr, McDonalds, Tesco & more.

Stephen has two fully-equipped London studios that he uses for photoshoots and are also available for rent to other food photographers. Stephen’s extensive knowledge about food photography can be seen in his photos and he also shares many of his tips on his blog. In his interview with us, Stephen discusses his journey with photography, his “daylight-photography” style and how his creativity continually pushes the envelope.

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Production Paradise: How did you discover that photography was your passion? What led you to food photography?

Stephen Conroy: There was no lightbulb moment. Being brought up in a very creative family, it was natural that I would be drawn to the arts in some form. Photography suited the attention to detail I had always used in my art.  I specialised in photography at Norwich School of Art. After which, the first assisting job I got in the real world was with a fantastic food photographer, Tim Bowden.

Production Paradise: Your images are bright and airy – you describe your style as having a “daylight photography feel”?

Stephen Conroy: Yes, but 90% of the time I use lights. I describe it like that because there were a couple of times when clients turned up for a first job, saw my lights, and said something like “we don’t like flash – we want daylight”. I found the best explanation was to show them my folio and ask them which shots they thought were flash. The fact is – they thought most were daylight.  It’s great to have a style. But I’ve always believed the best photographers have various options up their sleeves depending on the job. I also have 2 studios that I set up 10 years ago.  One of which – a great daylight studio – I hire out to many other food photographers.

Production Paradise: Does your process change whether you are doing a brand versus editorial shoot? What are the differences?

Stephen Conroy: There is less and less difference between the feel of the final photographs. Simply put – with brand work I’m helping to sell a product so those might be more stylised. I approach them the same way, but I basically have more opportunities to tweak and perfect the images, including in post-production. For me, it’s vital that the results always look natural. The time spent on each is the most important difference.

Production Paradise: You are also taking your talents into directing food films. How do you change your mindset from shooting still images to that of moving images.

Production Paradise: You are also taking your talents into directing food films. How do you change your mindset from shooting still images to that of moving images.

Stephen Conroy: It’s been enjoyable. Creative people need to keep challenging themselves anyway. I haven’t had to change my look. In fact, because I understand lighting, it’s been a natural transition. The process involves more people and I enjoy the collaboration and teamwork. It’s a bit like how stills shoots were 10+ years ago when more people would come on shoots. I’ve never had an agent, but it’s probably even more important in film than stills that you work with a good agent or producer {hint hint}

Production Paradise: What tips would you have for aspiring food photographers?

Stephen Conroy: That depends. Personally, I feel there is a huge difference between food photographers and people who take photographs of food. Digital cameras and phones have made everyone photographers. The only advice that is relevant to both hobbyists and aspiring pros is to ‘keep it simple.’ To make it a career, you need to have ‘an eye’ not just an app with filters. There are many avenues into food photography and different ways to be discovered. Not solely Instagram and blogs – they are tools, not mediums to rely on. I always promote the traditional approach – assistant photographers. There is no better way to gain experience and immerse yourself in the business.

Production Paradise: Do you get to sample the food and drink after the photo shoots?

Stephen Conroy: It would be rude not to, right! Obviously, some things are more appealing than others. Shooting a beautiful cookbook can mean we are dining like kings. But if we are shooting ready-meals for a couple of weeks the temptation isn’t really quite the same!

Production Paradise: How have you benefited from being a Production Paradise member?

Stephen Conroy: My view on advertising is that you’re not pitching for a certain job – you are keeping your name current and your work visible. I have chosen Production Paradise to help with that for many years. Production Paradise is a respected place to showcase your work. I know that the right people around the world are seeing my work.

We would like to thank Stephen for taking the time to speak with us. You can see more of his work on Production Paradise Food & Drink Spotlight and London Showcase magazines as well as on his website.

If you’d like to learn more about the food photography services we offer here at Stephen Conroy Food Photography. Please take a look around the website, and don’t hesitate to contact us.

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