Calum in his pie room

Photographer John Carey took home the trophy for the Phillip Harben Award for Food in Action in 2018 for his image ‘Calum in his pie room’.


Description: A master of his craft, the inimitable Calum Franklin, Executive Head Chef and Pie Creator Extraordinaire in his wonderful Pie Room at Holborn Dining Rooms in the Rosewood Hotel, London

Technical: Canon 5d mark 3

Please tell us more about capturing your Finalist image. For example; what was happening around you, what inspired the shot, what time of day, challenges you had in capturing it.

The challenge was just to do justice to the craft of pie making and capture Calum doing what he does.

I wanted to do be sympathetic to the environment that Calum had produced. The room has a kind of timeless feel to it, so I tried hard to portray this in the image. I kept the lighting quite soft and directional (to replicate window light) and didn’t want to add any bold colour or gloss. It was important to maintain an honest representation of the mood and space.

What was it about the image that you feel fitted the category so well?

Simply a chef doing what he does better than anyone else in a unique setting.

What I love is the fact that the ‘action’ doesn’t have to be fast paced and frantic like a lot of kitchens. The art of pie making takes time and concentration!


Please tell us a little more about yourself and your background in photography

I shoot food and food-related portraits. I got introduced to working with chefs and food while working full time at The Times Magazine, whom I joined straight from completing a photography degree at University in Newcastle. Pretty much everything I shoot now is food and drink related. I mostly shoot cookbooks and PR material for various London (and beyond) restaurants, bars and hotels.


Image Above: Extract from Pollen Street, The Cookbook

Tell us about a standard working day with you?

The great thing about what I do is that there isn’t a ‘standard’ working day! The process starts before the day itself, agreeing a shot list and making sure any additional props, backgrounds and equipment are in place. I usually drive into London which can take up to 2 hours, so I spend far too much time in my car. I mostly shoot on location, usually at a restaurant, so early starts are normal. Typically, I like to talk through the brief with the client/art director/chef over a coffee. The idea is to establish a running order of shots taking into account restrictions such as service/customers /daylight etc. Shoot days tend to be long and there’s not much down time! Lunch is usually swift, but often incredible, given the standard of restaurants I am fortunate to work in! The day certainly doesn’t end there either, as I tend to spend a similar amount of time on post production as I do shooting. I have a retoucher who helps me with finer details, but I have to work 7 days a week (less hours at weekends). It’s definitely a lifestyle, not a job!


Image Above: Extract from ‘Shaken’ first official 007 cocktail book, shot at Swift Bar London, published in conjunction with the Ian Fleming Estate

Which photographers, if any, have most influenced your work?

I’ve always loved street photography-Bert Hardy, Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau. Portrait wise I always go back to Bailey and Avedon. I like Sante D’Orazio and Mark Seliger’s work. I really admire Annie Leibowitz and her production, I also like Martin Parr’s take on the world. None of the above are food photographers, but I like to take influence from other genres and apply them to my food photography.

winter lamb

Image Above: Extract from Pollen Street, The Cookbook

Have you been working on any exciting projects or have news to share?

This year has been extremely busy, but very satisfying and rewarding. In the past 2 months, I have had 3 books published. Firstly, the Ritz cookbook (the first in the hotel’s 112 history), an amazing experience, I really enjoyed collaborating with the brilliant chef John Williams and his wonderfully talented team. I also worked on a project called ‘Shaken’ which is the first official 007 cocktail book, shot at the superb Swift Bar in London, published in conjunction with the Ian Fleming Estate. Finally, just released, is ‘Pollen Street, The Cookbook’, which is a stunning book celebrating Jason Atherton’s incredible Mayfair restaurant and also British food and producers. With this, I got to travel the length and breadth of the British Isles meeting and photographing these fascinating people and hearing their stories. Jason is such a wonderful chef and also a long-standing client who has been incredibly loyal to me.

If you would like to know more about John visit:


Twitter: @johncareyphoto

Instagram: @johncareyphoto

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