The carpet of wild garlic
Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year is not just about Food on a Plate. The categories cover the full cultural range of the depiction of food in society – there is something for everyone. From styled food for magazines to images of families eating together in celebration of religious festivals, from depictions of the realities of food production to food growing in its natural setting.
Food growing in its natural setting was to be the theme of Robin Goodlad’s winning image of our Food in the Field category for 2016, ‘The carpet of wild garlic’.
Hidden in a Dorset wood lies a perfectly complete carpet of Ramsoms, flowering briefly every year and filling the wood with a beautifully intense garlic aroma. I timed my visit to capture the sun’s first rays diverging through the trees, spotlighting this incredible display of my favourite wild ingredient.
Technical: Nikon D800, Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8, 0.6 seconds at f20, ISO 100
How does it feel to be a Finalist for the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2016?
It feels absolutely incredible, a real honour, considering the fantastic quality of all of the images entered from around the world. Food and photography are my two biggest passions, and it is a real privilege to be able to combine the two. Robin is seen below receiving his award from Jay Rayner and Pierre Koffman.
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 am a firm believer in authentic food, growing my own vegetables, catching my own fish, and rearing my own rare breed sheep. But for me wild food is the purest source, to be found as nature intended, and for free. I love the versatility of wild garlic, and the anticipation of the new season, rather than it being available on demand, I know when spring is here. Having seen so many shots of bluebells in the spring, I wanted to capture garlic in a similar majesty, and went through a painstaking process of research to find the perfect location, this was not found by chance, but by study of the habitat. When I finally found this wood I was awestruck, a perfect carpet as far as the eye could see. It was then a case of planning when to visit for the perfect lighting conditions at dawn (5am in June!) The smell of garlic throughout the wood was beautiful, not strong as you might think, but beautiful, and subtle, the Ramsom definitely has a presence here. With such a delicate array of flowers, I had to tread with care in finding the composition, careless wandering would have ruined the leaves. It is for this reason that I have never shared with anyone exactly where this wood is, I do feel a great responsibility not to encourage others to trample such a magical display. Therefore I tell people only what I knew when I began looking, and it is up to them to find out the rest, should they wish to, that is all part of the fun of foraging!
What was it about the image that you feel fitted the category so well?
Food in the field is often associated with farming, and spreads of identical plants. What struck me was this was nature's field, it could almost have been planted, yet it is purely wild, perhaps farming isn't so un-natural after all. Nature farms plants itself when the habitat is right.
I have explored two career paths, one as a chef (back in 2008 when I reached the 3rd round of BBC Masterchef), and also as a photographer, which is my current profession. I love cooking, but I couldn't be without photography, whereas with photography, I get to cook. I love the creativity and the art of styling, working with some great producers, and being able to capture images of food at the moment of perfection for suppliers and chefs, as once eaten, the food is gone. I take great pride and pleasure in preserving these moments for those who have worked so hard with their own trade in creating such beautiful food.
There are two sides, I use Instagram and social media a lot, for food photography this is essential for sharing your work, and linking in suppliers and producers, the targeting through hashtags is immensely powerful for directing images to people who want to see them. Perhaps the drawback is that the quality of the images taken on a smartphone will never be as good as those taken on a true camera, though perhaps this doesn't always matter if the image conveys the intended message. If it looks beautiful to the viewer, then this is what is important. If apps such as Instagram get us all looking at beautiful photography, rather than just text, then this is definitely a good thing!
Which photographers, if any, have most influenced your work?
David Loftus, Charlie Waite, David Griffen, Joan Ransley, Sebastiao Salgado, Cartier Bresson, Ansel Adams
Please tell us a little about where you live and if, at all, how it influences your photography.
I live in Wimborne Minster in Dorset, a fabulous market town which is a hive of local producers who value the provenance of their food, and their is great pride in the food produced and shared, working with such fabulous producers and establishments with a similar outlook to myself is a real blessing.
Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year has given me huge confidence over the last few months. Last weekend I ran a food photography demonstration at the Wimborne Minster Food festival which was very well received, and tomorrow night I am off to Winchester to photograph Jack and Charlie Stein running a food and wine pairing at the new Rick Stein restaurant in Winchester - neither of which I would even have considered a few months ago. I’ve also had 2 enquiries this week for food photography commissions in London, nothing significant perhaps, except when you consider I live 2 hours drive from London, and there must be plenty of choice in London itself already, so why choose me?
I’m happy therefore to share how much of a difference the award has made to me, not just in raising my profile, but also in personal confidence. Fingers crossed there will be more on the horizon!
To contact Robin visit: