STREET FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

Images of street food can show so many aspects of cultural life, from buying, and selling, to browsing and eating. Photographing street food can show the dynamism of entrepreneurs selling street food, of traders selling hand-made burgers in a London market, to waffles in Brussels to samosa in Bombay station or even stir fry in Bangkok. In photographing street food, we can learn so much about the culture and politics of food across the globe.

With the busy nature of a street food scene, capturing that perfect food photograph can be difficult. We asked Rein Skullerud, our esteemed judge and Head of Photo Unit, World Food Programme, United Nations, to share with us the beauty of capturing that street food shot. Rein also shares with us insight into capturing that intriguing street food shot, from understanding the context of the scene, to getting the right framing angles, from utilizing lighting to technical lens details.

Street food photography is so dynamic, touching upon many genres of food photography: from street food in action, to the politics of food and the humanitarian aspects of food for life. Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year Street Food category calls for such images, but street food can also be captured and featured across different categories.

Following Reins insight, we look back at how these techniques of capturing street food have been represented in across not only our Street Food category, but that of the Politics of Food, WFP Food for Life and Food for Sale as well as On the Phone. Each of them inspiring us to look at completely different styles of photography and how street food within them can tell us stories across the globe.

IMPORTANCE OF STREET FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

‘I am not sure whether I can tell you how to photograph street food in a just few sentences, but I can tell you what strikes me when I look at street food photos or what I look for when I am out with my camera. The beauty of street food photography is the opportunity is having the chance to show the diverse cultures with respect using the element that mostly brings people together “Food”.’

STREET FOOD CONTEXT 

‘In many ways street food photography resembles humanitarian photography in terms of using the opportunity to capture the moment naturally in within the dynamics of a moving context. Don’t get me wrong, also posed and studio photos likewise have great importance, but I have always been intrigued by the images that just show the perfect moments captured while events are rolling out, as Henri Cartier Bresson would have defined it “the decisive moment’’.’

FRAMING YOUR STREET FOOD SHOT

‘My goal is to make photographs that convey the dynamics, the magic of street food and the accessibility, so either in a subtle or in a very tangible way I draw attention to the elements that tell the story. For example, by framing the angle that shows the food on the move or maybe a detail in the packaging or a person walking away, or food being handed over a stand.’

STREET FOOD LIGHTING

‘I love the action the dynamics and all the creative potential that comes with the street. Such as the use of available light that often comes with a dynamic mixture of different sources between natural and artificial combined with the action of bustling streets and food stands there is great potential. I usually shoot in colour to maximize all the amazing tones and variables that you see in food. I rarely use a flash mostly relying on available light, but when I use flash, I use it off camera with a remote trigger so that I can make sure the direction of the light is never in the same line of my lens with much more pleasing results.’

CAMERA TIPS FOR STREET FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

‘On the technical side I opt for the use of prime lens, mainly because of the better proportions they deliver and because prime lens makes me think and move in ways that allow me to find the real best angle, zoom lens risk making you lazy or static. I predominantly use a fast 35mm, but I also carry a 50mm and a wide angle lens.’

REPRESENTATION OF STREET FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

Across the years, our commended and finalists work display how street food can represent many genres of photography and associated storytelling. We wanted to look back at some of our entries to the following categories to highlight how street food has been photographed in categories other than just our Street Food category.

In photographing his winning image ‘Crouch End’ in our Street Food category in 2017, Robin Stewart shared with us the importance of that ‘completely natural’ shot - Street Photography - Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year.  Such ‘context,’ as Rein previously touches upon can be seen to have been used in different ways throughout these entries.  

Rein’s insights into this framing, lighting and camera angles can also be analyzed throughout our entrant’s work, each using street food to tell a story in different ways and leaving us to want to know more behind that image.  

Street Food

We are looking for Images of people buying, selling and eating food in the street around the world.

Images that show the dynamism of entrepreneurs selling Street Food. From traders selling hand-made burgers in a London market, to waffles in Brussels to samosa in Bombay station or stir fry in Bangkok.

2020 K M Asad - Sweet Potato
2019 Mick Shippen - Breakfast in Hanoi

World Food Programme Food for Life

We are seeking images of the humanitarian aspect of food, anywhere in the world - food bringing people together, the healing and joy, people striving for normality in the most difficult circumstances.

As well as handing out food, receiving, storing food, wherever it is needed to alleviate hunger. Whether after an earthquake, during a famine, the ravages of war or simply the affliction of poverty, food is for life.

2017 Robin Goodlad - Contrasting Realities
2018 Ben Phillips - Feeding Dehli

Politics of Food

We are looking for photo-journalistic images that show the reality of issues relating to food anywhere in the world including the impact that Covid has had on the global population over the last year.

Subject matter can include anything from large or small scale food production to lack of food, food sustainability or food consumption

2017 Soh Yew Kiat - A Place to Live for Marketplace

Spayne Lindsay On the Phone

Pictures of food taken on your mobile phone - any time, any place, anywhere.

2019 Tim clinch - Proper Cucumbers
2020 Amy Stephenson - Muc Rim Me

Winterbotham Darby Food for Sale

 The very best shots of food for sale, be it a farmers market in France, spices in Senegal, macaroons in a chic Parisian emporium or coconut pancakes from a Thai floating market. Images of buying and selling food in shops and on the street anywhere in the world.

2020 Rico Feldfoss - Milkshake
Adam_Oseland topsham street food photography_b-06-Feb-18
2018 Adam Oseland - Topsham

To get more street food inspiration and be immersed in the breathtaking photos of our previous winners, please visit our finalists' gallery.

To learn more tips and tricks, or to gain useful insight into the competition please visit our blogs  section to find out more

Want to try your hand at Food photography and enter our competition? register your interest today!

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