Pastry and Pears

The hugely popular Marks & Spencer Food Portraiture category of Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2018 was won by Linda Taylor of the USA for her image ‘Pastry and Pears’.

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Technical: Canon 5DMII, Natural light, 50mm, f5.6, ISO 800, 1/100 sec.

Description: My small, imperfect pears from my tree were gifted to my local baker and they transformed them into these perfect little brioche and ricotta pastries.

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.

I have been working with a local baker creating images for their Facebook page and eventually their website. I gave them some pears from my tree and they made these lovely pastries, so of course I had to photograph them, including the pears from my tree. The story behind the photo is basically "give and you shall receive". I have a little set up in my family room where I shoot and maybe shot around 45 images before this final image. It always seems that the last one is the best. It was late afternoon, so of course, one of the challenges was working with the changing light. I don't mind the increased grain of shooting with a higher ISO for still life images. I think it gives the image more of a painterly feel.

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

Much of my recent work is focused on the still life genre of photography, so creating a balance of light and composition to bring focus to the subject of the photo is the essence of portraiture. It's not just a snapshot of the food, but a careful composition to give personality and mood to subject, as it would be photographing a person.

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How did it feel to hear your name called out as winner of the Marks & Spencer Food portraiture category? Any highlights from the awards reception or exhibition to share?

First of all, just getting the initial notification that I was short-listed was so exciting that I couldn’t contain myself. It really felt great to be recognized. I wasn’t expecting to go further, but then receiving the next notification that I was a finalist and was invited to the gala event was just beyond exciting. Needless to say, the anticipation of the announcement was nerve-racking, and when I heard my name, it was a bit of a shock! I was standing in the back, not expecting to win, so it seemed an eternity to get up to the stage.

The awards reception was quite lively and fun, and it was a pleasure to meet so many talented photographers. I think it is very important to see photographs in print, so getting up close and personal with so many fabulous images was inspiring. As I looked at all of the images that evening, I picked what I thought should be the overall winner, and I was right! It was a stunning image.

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

Until recently, photography was more of a hobby, but progressively became more in the forefront of what I wanted to do professionally. I began to focus on photographing food when my sister and I started a food blog together. She was the writer, and I created the images. Although we don't support the blog anymore, I realized that it made me very happy to photograph food, along with the processes and experiences associated with it, whether it be in my own kitchen or somewhere else in the world. I recently purchased an old warehouse to create a culinary studio, gallery and workshop space. My professional background is textile and graphic design, but I now look forward to moving on to create a creative space in my community and bring the rest of the world back to my little town.

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

There are so many talented photographers out there, some I have met and worked with personally in workshops or travel retreats. Of course, following David Loftus led me to this competition, but learning from Beth Kirby, Marte Marie Forsberg, Andrea Gentl and Martin Hyers, Jim Henkins, Aran Goyoaga, Penny De Los Santos and Oddur Thorisson in workshops has been invaluable, and I love the work of Jeffrey Chapman and David Duchemin for their never-ending love of teaching and travel (and wine). I'm also inspired by my fellow workshop participants that I've met along the way. I am always moved by the impressionist work of Cynthia Haynes and Winslow Lockhart, and I'm also a huge fan of Cindy Sherman.

To find out more about Linda visit:

Website: www.lindataylor.gallery

Instagram: @campestudio

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