The working day of Food Photographer Mick Shippen
In 2013 Mick Shippen was our category winner for The Philip Harben Award for Food in Action for his image seen below ‘Cooking breakfast dosa at daybreak in Yangon, Myanmar: I was up before dawn to photograph Thiri Mingalar Fish Market on the outskirts of Yangon. In a side street still shrouded in darkness a lady cooked up dosa on a trio of charcoal braziers.’
Camera / Technical Detail: Canon 5D MK III, 70mm, F2.8, 1/40 sec
Not only that but he also had two other images shortlisted. Mick said of being a category winner, “I’m delighted to have been selected for this prestigious exhibition. To be told I had three images chosen in three different categories was a real thrill. I enjoyed seeing and being inspired by the other entries too.”
He is seen right (centre) receiving his award from Andy Macdonald (Managing Director of Coregeo Ltd, the Master Licensor of Pink Lady® in the UK) and Jay Rayner (Journalist, Writer, Broadcaster and Food Critic)
We asked Mick to tell us a little about where he lives and if, at all, it influences his photography.
I am a British travel photographer and writer but have been based in Thailand since 1997. I currently live in Bangkok but previously spent six years in the northern city of Chiang Mai. Both cities are fabulous destinations for foodies. In my work I travel extensively throughout South East Asia, a region which has some of the most vibrant food cultures in the world. I draw inspiration from the street food scene with its highly skilled and intuitive cooks, and the many colourful fresh markets.
What first interested you in food photography?
A love of good food and a realisation that it is such a central part of the Asian life and culture which I love to document.
What is your typical working day?
Typically I have two types of day. If I am away on a trip I usually get up at day break and head down to the local fresh market to do some food and people shots. In fact, the first question I ask when checking into a guesthouse or hotel is “where are the morning and afternoon fresh markets?”
After a couple of hours in the market I then head off to a local attraction or whatever else I’ve decided to photograph. After 10 a.m. the morning shooting is pretty much over because the light is too harsh for my liking so I may return to the room and do some work on my laptop. Late afternoon usually involves another trip to a market. In Asia, this is usually a different location to the morning market. I may also do some dusk shots in a prime location before heading to a bar for a well-deserved cleansing ale and local food.
If I’m at home in Bangkok I rise at 7.30 a.m., turn on the coffee machine, cook a quick breakfast or go to a local street vendor. By 8.30 I’m in front of the computer editing photographs with Lightroom and Photoshop. My working day at home is usually a minimum of 12 hours and ends on the sofa with a glass of red wine and olives or a bottle of real ale.
Which photographers, if any, have most influenced your work?
I’m not really influenced by any photographers as such, although I do love to buy photo-heavy cookery books and magazines to see what people are doing. I tend to draw inspiration from the vibrancy of life around me and respond to the moment. Here in Thailand, the colourful fresh markets are alive with the banter of shoppers and traders. At lunch times and in the evening street stalls swarm with office staff; the air filled with the irresistible aroma of dozens of different dishes, the choking waft of stir-fried chillies, lemongrass-scented soups and charcoal-grilled meats. It’s all fabulous material for a photographer.
In November I had three books released that I was commissioned to write and photograph, namely ‘Enchanting Bangkok’, ‘Enchanting Chiang Mai & Northern Thailand’ and ‘Presenting Cambodia’. Although they do include some food photography they mainly about the culture and attractions of each destination. However, I now want to do a book that is purely focused on food and food culture in a Southeast Asian country. It’s a burning ambition I have harboured for quite some time but has always got sidelined by commissions. I have a clear idea in mind and in fact have already started work on it so I am now interested in talking to international publishers of food books about the project.
As a result of winning the Food in Action category of the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2013 I was invited to sign with StockFood, a sponsor of the event and the world’s leading food image stock agency. I’m delighted to be regularly supplying them with all my new food images. Work can be seen here www.stockfood.co.uk .