An acquired taste; How the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year contest got started

October 7th, 2013

The Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year awards arose from a couple of major influences. My lifelong love of photography led me to a position editing a travel magazine in London in my 20’s. One of my favourite parts of the job was meeting photographers and seeing their portfolios. In those days I looked at transparencies through a loop on a light box. Later, I set up a food PR company and commissioned a great deal of food photography for clients. Much of this work was outstanding and I often wondered why there wasn’t a set of awards to celebrate it. There were awards for everything else; wildlife, travel, landscape, but nothing for food photography.

Just over two years ago, I woke in the middle of the night with the absolute conviction that my team and I should set up an international food photography award program to recognise this wonderful and diverse art form. After all, food photography is everywhere; on blogs, in books, magazines, newspapers, menus, packaging and advertising. It was really important to us that the awards be democratic. In other words each contest would be open to all photographers professional and amateur, old and young. And above all else, the images would be judged anonymously.

We approached all sorts of prominent judges to represent every possible aspect of the industry such as leading photography dealers, creative directors, top cookery book publishers, renowned food retailers and food manufacturers with iconic packaging. We booked the Saatchi Gallery for the judge’s dinner and the Mall Galleries for the winner’s exhibition. The many categories seemed to suggest themselves – Food in the Field, Food in the Street, Food for Sale and more.

The project attracted attention and support really quickly. Judges who have come on board include Jamie Oliver’s photographer David Loftus, Creative Director of BBC Food Liz Galbraith and iconic Italian chef Antonio Carluccio. One of the world’s leading dealers in photography, Chris Beetles, also came on board early. “It is all such a splendid idea and on the button of the zeitgeist,” he says. “Sounds great. Count me in,” said James Averdieck, founder of Gu Puds who use amazing photography in their glamorous packaging.

In just two years, the awards have grown exponentially and there were over 5500 entries this year. In 2012 the overall winner was Jean Cazals, a French-born London-based photographer for his picture Black Pigs in Gascony. Alexandrina Paduretu of Romania scooped up the top prize in 2013, with a touching photograph of her elderly grandfather eating an apple, juice running down his quilted jacket. Says Paduretu “It was a great honour for me to be chosen among the finalists of this competition. When I got the news, I realized that when you really want something you can always fulfill your dream. Therefore, each of us, regardless of nationality, age or gender should take a gamble when the time arises.”

For those interested the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year contest for 2014 is currently open for entries. The entry period closes at midnight on the 31st of January 2014.

Caroline Kenyon, Director of Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, spent 10 years in London as a journalist and national magazine editor, before relocating and setting up her own PR and event company specialising in the promotion of food. It was the experience of commissioning food photography for various campaigns which led to setting up Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year in 2011.