Table talk with Food Photographer Jean Cazals

A new category for 2017 was ‘InterContinental London Park Lane Food at the Table’ and the first food photographer to walk away with the trophy was none other than Jean Cazals. Jean was the first-ever Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year in 2012 and has since won the Marks & Spencer Food Portraiture category in 2016.

The image entitled ‘Mac & Cheese’ was described by Jean as, ‘shot in a restaurant. The perfect mac & cheese with the strings to go with it!’

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Jean, we would love to hear more about the brief you had for the shoot and what inspired the styling, lighting for the image and any challenges you had in capturing it.

The image of the Mac & Cheese was shot for the SohoHouse Book, a book which depicts the relaxed lifestyle of the club.  It was shot in full day-light; styling was minimal on the restaurant table at Babington House dining room. The main challenge was to capture the movement and the grace of the cheese in a natural way.

What was it about this image that made you decide to enter it into the awards?

As I shoot a lot of restaurant photography I was very excited about this new category which I feel really shows food….At the table. Restaurants are about people and food, the interaction of both together. Hence this image which depicts exactly that. It looks natural, in the spirit of the moment but actually it did need few takes to get the exact hand position and foremost the cheese string.

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You have inspired other young photographers to shoot food but who inspired you?

My inspiration comes mostly from looking at books, magazines, exhibitions…Observing life around me, I get inspired more by ideas and concepts than by people really. However if I have to mention names I will give names of people which are actually not food photographers! T.Walker, A.Watson, JP.Goude, H.Newton, A.Leibovitz, I.Penn and of course Guy Bourdin.

In food I would say Swedish Photographer Per-Anders Jorgensen, creator of Fool Mag. A real quirky eye on food & chefs and Danish Ditte Isager for her talent to shoot food, interiors and people in such a perfect way and too many other people to mention!

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Having shot more than 80 cookery books what are your top tips for our young audience in learning the art of food photography?

Practice but especially learn to put things together in a harmonious way whatever the feel or mood that is required. It’s like a recipe. Not too much salt, little pepper! It’s the combination of the light, angle, depth of field, background and styling. These elements put together by different photographers will give a different look. That’s what gives the identity of each of us. However, I really insist on a certain discipline. Even though it may look rough and ready it has to be somehow balanced to prioritise the key element of the shot. The angle ¾ or from above will give a completely different approach to the same dish. A mille-feuilles will be better ¾ as a tart may look better from above.

What exciting projects have you recently been working on?

More restaurants. Working with chefs is a great pleasure, shooting interiors and food on location as well. Otherwise planning a few book projects and just finished a great new vegetable book with Murdoch Australia. Just back from Marrakech shooting an interior book as well!

Huge thanks to Jean for taking time out to talk to us, if you would like to connect with Jean visit:

Website: http://jeancazals.net

Twitter: @JCazals

Instagram: @jeancazals

Jean is presently working with the Intercontinental London Park Lane and we look forward to sharing a behind the scenes blog about the shoot very soon!

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