Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas - or "Chipmas" tree for McCain's

We had great fun doing this festive tree of McCain's Spicy Wedges.... Happy Christmas! For McCain's, Agency BMB, Food Styling Maud Eden

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Wonder Jackets!

Suddenly it IS jacket potato time - good timing for the McCain's posters.   This is one I snapped at Chiswick today....

Friday, 20 September 2013

McCain's press, posters and on the buses

With the change in the weather (which I've really been feeling since I came back from a holiday in sunny climes!) the timing of the launch of McCain's big new campaign in the press and on poster sites and London buses could hardly have been better.   It is a marked contrast to when we did the shoots, just about the hottest part of the summer.

BMB had a very clear idea of the lighting they wanted, to make the product stand out well against the background and pick up as much natural texture as possible to keep the food looking real and scrummy.   The other main concern was to keep the products - through their arrangement and emphasising individual characteristics - looking as different as possible from one another.
 When it came to the Smiles we had an interesting time deciding on the model-making route as well as the issue of whether the eyes should be light, dark or neutral.   For those of you who like the behind-the-scenes shots, here's a beauty line up of smiles while we were playing with the lighting - vaguely reminiscent of table football!  Of course, at this point they all started developing individual characters and the whole thing became a bit silly.
But here's the finished product.
Client: McCain, Agency: BMB, Art Buyer: David Corfield, Art Director: Jay Pond-Jones, Food Stylist: Kate Parr.

Monday, 2 September 2013

McDonalds "unbranded"

"The Big Mac, the Cheeseburger, the Sundae, the French fries, the Chicken McNuggets and the Filet-O-Fish… six products from McDonald’s that belong to the prestigious group of iconic products.
There is no need to name these products: you immediately recognize them.
Long speeches aren’t necessary: everyone knows what they taste like and what they stand for.
A logo would be redundant: you instantly understand who’s talking to you.

With this in mind, TBWAParis and McDonald’s decided to celebrate these iconic products as they deserved to be celebrated: by showing huge visuals in the press, in magazines as well as outdoor, without any kind of artifice. The brand isn’t mentioned anywhere on these visuals, not a single indication would add to the impact of the communication.
Because when a product speaks for itself, what more could we possibly say? But moreover, why should we say anything else?"

Agency: TBWA Paris
Client: McDonald’s
Art Buyer: Julie Champin
Creative Director: Jean-François Goize
Food Creative Director: Maud Poilpré
Photographer: Sue Atkinson
Food Stylist: Anne-Claire Delphin

From Creative Review's newsfeed, 29th July 2013

This was a terrific project to work on with a great team.   Some very long days but we all had the same goal in mind and managed to develop quite a family spirit by the end of the week.   I even learned a bit more French - including some things I must most definitely not repeat by accident!

Here are a few "behind the scenes" shots.
LOTS of extension on the camera
Working on the cheeseburger

Guess where the rice came in!

When the food stylist turns her back...
When the art director turns their back...

A bouquet of nuggets

On parade

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Ginster's Cornish pasties, pies, slices, subs....

Original Cornish pasty
Last autumn I started shooting Smith & Milton's big re-design of Ginster's range of pasties, pies, slices and subs under the excellent art direction of Ruth Pearson.   It was a very tight brief with specific requirements for the backgrounds which I sourced myself.   Amongst them we used slate, granite, artfully screwed-up and painted brown paper and a favourite, treasured old baking sheet of mine.   Then we spent weeks looking for exactly the right piece of wood for the Slices before discovering it hiding on the back of an old oak panel in the corner of the studio!

The lighting brief was also very tight.   We were to shoot to avoid retouching being required and with a strong vignette specific to each product range.   We managed it with a very carefully constructed (and well-documented!) lighting set-up, although in the final design this aspect has been dropped (which, ironically resulted in the need for quite a bit of retouching.   But that's how it goes....)   Product to look "natural" with crumbs but not "too many" - which turned out to be "very few" and learned all sorts of techniques for avoiding and erasing grease marks on different surfaces!  

It has taken some months to be released but I am now very proud to see the work in the shops and on their vans. 
4 Steak slices

Thanks to Maud Eden for some great styling, to Esther and Anna for their excellent diagrams, patience and good humour and not least to Friedel Schroder and his team who helped find homes for hundreds and hundreds of spare pasties!
Chicken Tikka sub

Large sausage roll
Chilli chicken wrap
For the full range of images go to

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Food travels in SE Asia

My first experience of life in Luang Prabang was a tourist classic - giving alms to the monks, albeit in a quiet backstreet.   Monks are an essential feature - both culturally and visually - of Laos' second biggest city with its 32 Buddhist temples and are happy to be photographed and practise their English!

My second stop was the early morning outdoor food market where all of the produce was of superb quality even if much of it was unconventional to our Western eyes.   As nothing intrigues me more than foods I have never seen before, I was in my element.   I spent the best of 2 mornings there and am still only just finding out what some things were!

It took me some time to identify these as banana flowers.   DO NOT bother with imported tinned varieties - they taste of NOTHING!

Coriander is a staple ingredient in Laos food, along with coconut milk, lemon grass and chillies.   Even a modest harvest is presented with great pride on freshly cut banana leaves.

Bamboo features in almost every walk of life in Laos, particularly for the substantial hill tribe population.   Laotians build houses with it, use it for irrigation, make furniture, rice steaming pots - as held by the Khamu tribeswoman above right (can you believe it grows that big?!), chopsticks, skewers for cooking, spears for catching fish, make traps, weave baskets and eat masses of it in shoot form.   Note the regulation issue "eau de Nile" scales - they pop up everywhere!

Some of the food is so fresh it's still alive, such as this bucket of unfortunate toads awaiting their fate.
Fresh fish - still breathing...
Other unlucky creatures; partly developed chicks cooked in their shells are considered a great delicacy.   I didn't try them.

This lady with her regulation "parasol" must have developed an immunity to the heat of the ubiquitous bird's eye chillies

Traveling further north from Luang Prabang by road we stopped for lunch at Oudom Xai a busy, dusty town on the cross roads between Laos, China, Vietnam and Thailand NOT renowned for its culinary delights but I loved this photogenic restaurant interior, looking through to the cooking area at the back.

Also, its proprietor....

On the return journey - a delightful boat trip with some great rapids - we stopped off at a small but surprisingly touristy riverside town where I spotted these sausages hanging out to dry.   They earned me a Commended in the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year awards 2013!

Last, but not least, a theme no-one who has visited Cambodia can fail to recognise....   There seem to be people laying about in hammocks and sleeping everywhere!

Market trader, the Russian Market, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
These are a small selection from the many images I took on my travels.   They are really only holiday snaps (notice I do not indulge in the popular trend of photographing what I am about to eat!) but I thought it might be fun to share them with those of you who have food/travel interests in common.   Natacha du Pont de Bie's book "Ant Egg Soup: the adventures of a food tourist in Laos" offers a more comprehensive insight into the subject including some excellent, simple recipes.

Eventually I will be posting a more comprehensive set of pics. for those who have asked.   Let me know if you'd like to be notified...