My Photography Story – Judith Balari
For our latest blog, we chatted to photographer Judith Balari, a multiple-finalist of the competition who has been entering since 2016. Judith tells us about where her love for photography began, her favourite entry and her top tips for success in the competition.
Tell us about how your love for photography began
For as long as I can remember I have always loved photography. When I was a little girl I used to cut out pictures from magazines and pasted them on one of my bedroom walls. I would stare at them for hours. Years later I started collecting National Geographic magazines and my mind would travel to all the places I read about in each issue. When my father bought my first Nikon film camera it was love at first sight, we became inseparable. From that moment on, my memories were just rolls of films to be printed.
In 2002 I left Buenos Aires, my hometown, and moved to Italy. As time went by, I realised I could not be in a better place when it came to food. Italians put their love and soul in every dish, and I was there to document their culinary traditions. My passion grew, so I decided to take online courses to learn more about the secrets of food photography. But it took me years of practice to be satisfied with a single image.
In 2018 when I knew I was a finalist and shortlisted, I was speechless! So excited and happy that I had to pinch myself. Yes, it was real, I was going to London! What else could I have asked for?
By participating in this prestigious competition, I became more self-confident. I told myself again and again that I had finally made it. The idea of being among talented photographers from all over the world was like an Oscar nomination for me. Over the years, I had the honour of being selected several times as a finalist and shortlisted. As a result, my visibility on the net increased giving me job opportunities and I must say I couldn't be more grateful.
Now my next step is to see my images in a cookbook to be launched in 2024 in collaboration with Fiammetta Bonnazzi, an interior consultant and journalist specialised in architecture and design.
Our book will talk about the life of an Italian family and its deep-rooted traditions in a wonderful location of Maggiore Lake in Piemont.
‘SIDE BY SIDE’, Highly Commended, Marks & Spencer Food Portraiture, 2022
You’ve had many successful entries to the competition, which has been your favourite and why?
It is hard to say, but if I have to pick one it is SIDE BY SIDE in Marks Spencer & Food Portraiture, 2022. I had been trying for several years in this category, so being among the finalists that year was a great privilege. To be honest, I was blown away! Pink is one of the colours I love most. It really makes the images pop. While I was taking this picture I thought: “the apple is pink, the flowers are pink and the ice cream too.” In fact, pink brought me good luck!
‘The Sicilian Way’, 3rd, Food at the Table, 2021
What are your top three tips for entering the competition?
First of all, I firmly believe that images should convey an emotion. They have to speak to you, as if they are telling you a story that you are eager to know. Secondly, I highly recommend looking over and over again at all the shortlisted, finalist, and winning images from the previous years to get an idea of what the jury is looking for. Personally, before choosing mine, I spend hours watching the successful photos. Finally, I suggest entering different categories, not just one. That way you have a better chance of being selected.
‘Blue Homarus lobster tail’, Shortlisted, Hotel Art Group Cream of the Crop, 2019
You’ve taken part in the Awards for many years. What is it you love about it?
I have been participating since 2016. That year I was not lucky, and I felt a bit discouraged. But I was determined, I refused to give up. In 2017 I had two shortlisted images. But in 2018 my first finalist image was hung on the walls of the Mall Galleries. Since then, participating in this fantastic contest has helped me broaden my horizons and I have undoubtedly improved the quality of my photography. Each time is a new challenge, but above all I find it absolutely stimulating.
‘Venetians Celebrate’, Highly Commended, Champagne Taittinger Food for Celebration, 2023
What’s your advice to someone unsure about whether to take part in the Awards?
When you participate in a competition, you are definitely comparing yourself to others. It seems difficult, but this is the only way to grow, to push yourself to the next level, to do something more creative and different from your previous work. By entering the Awards you will have the chance to be judged by the best photographers, chefs, creative directors, magazine editors and food retailers in the food industry. Do not think twice! Take a look at all the categories, and find inspiration! Do not hesitate, and give it a try!
- How to stand out in the shortlist by Caroline Kenyon January 4, 2024
- Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year changed my life January 2, 2024
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