Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year changed my life
To mark our special tenth year, we want to reflect on what Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year has meant to our entrants. Angela Nicholson, judge and Co-Founder & Director at Camera Jabber and Founder of SheClicks, spoke to Donna Crous, who explains how the competition has kickstarted her career, and shares with us her journey through the competition.
Now a professional food photographer, Donna’s work can be seen in recipe books, magazines, and brand development across the globe. We are celebrating, not only our tenth year, but Donna’s achievement of becoming a Nikon Northern Europe Ambassador.
Donna, tell us a little about what you have achieved and your relationship with the awards?
Well I submitted four years ago, and since then I have been fortunate enough to be in the finals every year. If anyone knows the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, it is almost like the academy awards or food photography. Every year it gets bigger and better and tougher. There are such a huge variety of categories, which makes it exciting as you do not necessarily need to be a food stylist or have a home studio to be able to enter.
Four years ago, I went along to the most incredible awards ceremony. I was totally blown away and really impressed. That evening, I found that my photograph was 3rd in the Food Bloggers category. It was the breakout image for me, which I think made me realise that there really isn’t a moment in your career when you go ‘right I’m a food photographer.’ But I think for me it was walking in seeing this image on the wall in the gallery and thinking ‘yeah I can actually do this, this is possible’.
The next year, I submitted into a range of different categories. This was the image that was selected for M&S British Food Festivals category. It made me start to see food photography in a whole new world - It was not just about setting up at home and creating these big new sets. It was about going out to events and seeing food outside of my home and studio.
The following year, I submitted this image into One Vision Imaging Cream of the Crop, and again made it to the finals. For me, it was a big step in my photography career because this category is one that I have always aspired to be in as a finalist. It features beautiful portraiture photography of food, and so it was a real privilege for me to be up there with some of the amazing photographers.
So to my final image, submitted this 2020. So many of my friends and colleagues who spotted this didn’t even know that this was mine. Taken on holiday on Zanzibar, I submitted this into Winterbotham Darby Food for Sale. It’s about always looking, always on the hunt for a new food shot.
How did your career snowball from PLFPOY?
For me, it was a defining moment in my career when I was placed 3rd with my first image. People often ask how my career started, and I have to give credit to Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year. Through the competition, I was introduced to the Photography Show, and then to Nikon. It is tough as an individual photographer, but if you get the backing of a big competition such as Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, it can really get you out there.
Why would you recommend entering Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year?
The whole competition has brought food photography forward. When I say I’m a food photographer, people think I photograph my plate of food. I think the world of photography is opening up to food photography now, because of competitions like this.
I always say, you can’t catch a fish if your lines not in the water. You have to do it! No one has to know you have submitted, and if you don’t get anywhere then nothing happens.
See Donna's full interview with Angela...