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Howard Shooter

 
"You have the right tools for the job so that you can guarantee that the outcome is exceptional in colour accuracy."
When I started out 20 years ago, the perception of food photography was that it was for squares. It was a niche, more about model making and “cheating” than actual creative, marketing led image making. I was always asked, “When are you going to stop snapping and start shooting fashion?” If you saw my dress sense you might know that that wasn’t a priority.

Food photography has now become this cool, respected, creative photography genre. Although it is very specialized and still riddled with misconceptions about fake ice cream and painting turkeys at Christmas, it is a huge growth area within the photography industry and attracts many photographers from other genres keen to capitalize on the popularity. Food photography is now a part of all our lives; from bloggers, to restaurant foodies, yummy mummies to hipsters, everyone is keen to show off their culinary creations or restaurant delights.

Equally food photography is now a hugely important part of the food industry and multinational clients understand that getting the right photograph, with the right photographer, can create and make multi-million pound brands and supermarkets.

I started using Phase One over 10 years ago and photographed a book for a celebrity chef working for the BBC. It was the first time the BBC food department had allowed a photographer to use a digital camera and everyone was equally excited as they were nervous about the prospect. Suffice to say it was a successful experiment. It is difficult to convey to photographers who have never used film what a revolution this was. It was an absolute pain waiting for test clips to come back from the lab, just to wait another two hours for the finished transparency film to finally pop over the counter. Now I work ostensibly with large multinational companies like KFC, Wagamama, and Marks & Spencer on packaging, point of sale, digital media and advertising. Clients and agencies take their food very seriously.

What Phase One does better than anyone else is let you get on with shooting. The cameras are minimalist and functional. The technical geek stuff is there if you want it, but as I like to shoot as if I’m using film, it’s good to know you don’t need a degree in physics to use Phase One cameras.

"Most high-end food photographers that I know use Phase One as the colour depth, dynamic range and ease of use complement our work flow, rather than become a hindrance."

The files are very filmic and give you enough latitude to really control the image after you’ve pressed the shutter… should you need to. Most high-end food photographers that I know use Phase One as the colour depth, dynamic range and ease of use complement our work flow, rather than become a hindrance. Capture One has developed into a very stable and photography led user experience. Using masks to adjust exposure or their excellent filing system is just the tip of an extensive iceberg of tools, which can help with true professional shooting situations. We use Overlays and Live View, which saves considerable time and reminds me of the days when we used to have to draw on acetate and place them on top of polaroid’s… my how things have changed for the better.

Ultimately, we as photographers are aware of the competition, both with other food photographers and of course with other photography manufacturers. There is no doubt that using Phase One, with their excellent range of Schneider Leaf Shutter lenses, gives you the perception of being in the higher end of the photography spectrum. It shouldn’t, as the camera does not define the photographer, but it does matter to the client… trust me.

The new XF Camera Body and Schneider lenses are professional in that they just work day after day after day. The camera bodies don’t have loads of squidgy buttons for unnecessary modes but instead, minimalist touch screens and smartphone-like reactions to gestures. This leads to a very simplistic user experience which means I can get on with the shooting.

I’m lucky that I work for many campaigns that are printed all over the world on enormous billboards, and the quality is always sumptuous. I primarily use an IQ1 60MP and the quality engenders real confidence.

It’s nice that the photography industry no longer believes food photography is square, even if my wife still doesn’t believe that I’m part of this cool new world. It’s nice to know, thanks to Phase One, that the one thing I don’t have to worry about is the camera, the quality and the software.

 

About Howard Shooter

Howard Shooter is a food photographer & director with over 20 years expertise. Born in 1973, Howard developed a passion for photography from a very early age.

Check out Howard's website and Instagram:

www.howardshooter.co.uk

www.instagram.com/howshoot