Photographing the Cream of the Crop


From muddy bunches of carrots to a bowl of rice or coffee beans, to a side of beef or a gleaming platter of fresh fish, Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2021 has seen some of the very best product shots to our One Vision Imaging Cream of the Crop category. 

'Another strong year for Cream of the Crop this year. The category is open to so much creativity that it never fails to deliver some fascinating shots. This years Winner, Cinnamon by Emma Sheldrake was fun and beautifully composed. The lighting created such rich colours and a feel and look of an artists canvas,' Derek Pouston, One Vision Imaging.


We invited Emma to share with us more about her incredible image, and her story with photography. 




Emma, tell us about yourself and your background in photography...


‘My photography journey started in primary school actually where I learnt dark room photography.

Through the years it has been fundamentally part of me, I studied Graphic Design at university and photography was an elective of mine. I also did further courses with Doug Spowart back in the day for more dark room teachings. 

Through my path as a Graphic Designer and Art Director I got to work beside some amazing photographers such as Mark Toia & Paul Giggle and retoucher and now photographer Justin Overall of Ion Design. I worked in Fashion, Food, Motorbikes and Commercial and Residential buildings primarily. Behind the scenes I loved Photoshop work and have won several awards over the years for my digital imaging. 

 In the last decade I did some skill set work with Peter Coulson (a mind-blowing portrait photographer) and a Brisbane College of Photography as well to tighten up my skills. I got hooked on food photography about 15 years ago when a client and friend said she was opening a chain of organic food stores and I ended up shooting and styling her recipes for catalogues and shooting all the product for them as well. 

 I have always been a big foodie, so it made sense to work in a field I love. I invested into my own studio and it brings me where I am at now. I am lucky to work with some amazing Chef’s, restaurants, clients, stylists, and subjects. I love that photography is the never-ending learning curve.’



Tell us a little about your winning image...


‘Firstly, I wanted this to have an old Rembrandt feel with light and its appeal to be like a painting. I wanted it to have an old worldly feel.

 The breed of chicken was important to this as was the props used which all heralded from the 1800’s, most French antiques. The background even was metal from an old chicken coop, fired to get discoloured visual appeal.

 The concept was focusing on the tradition of having your own chickens at home, and in these recent times there is a real push back to be self-sufficient. I wanted people to see in this picture the beauty of the day to day, the animal, and the produce they gift us.

 This was the first shoot in studio for me using Canon’s new R5 mirrorless camera, and coupled with the fact I used artificial lighting, this combo helped still our subject ‘Cinnamon’.

 As peaceful as she looked in the photo, trust me she made her way around the studio several times over, so the fact I had fast focus on this camera really helped!



Who or what is your biggest influence?


 ‘I would say my biggest influence is being in nature and seeing what forms, colours and textures occur. I live for sunrises and sunsets and clouds.’

How did it feel to win the category?


‘I was so, so thrilled. I was just so passionate in the creation of the image that it felt it was my true authentic self behind the camera. Here in Australia, it was very early in the morning, so it was just me jumping up and down in bed with my cuppa tea till the rest of the family woke up lol.’


What made you enter Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, and why would you recommend entering the awards…


‘I am very passionate about my food photography and felt like I had come to a place now where I am pushing out the corners of my style. It was a friend that recommended it to me, and I just went for it.

 I recommend the awards for photographers of all levels so they can look at the awards to craft something creativity for themselves without client parameters. It is a great opportunity to have you work judged by some of the best photographers in the world, for a promotional sense, for a sense of you have put all those hours behind the camera into so many steps forward in your journey. 

 For me personally it was a chance to enter something I did lovingly craft and it felt good to know that it was not rushed, nor over laboured either. It is nice to step out of the busy, and just craft as creatives and important to do our own projects for our growth. The awards allow this and promote this and involve some amazing ambassadors which is a food photographers dream!’ 



To view see all of our One Vision Imaging Cream of the Crop finalist images, take a look at our finalist galleries: 

Keep posted with our finalist stories on our blog page.

In an exciting first for the competition, the exhibition of the 2021 Finalists will be premiering at The Royal Photographic Society, one of the world’s oldest photographic societies, in Bristol.

The exhibition will run from 20 November - 12 December 2021. Entry is free, and we hope to see you there!


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