Food Photographer of the Week: Nathan Snoddon, London, UK
We’re super excited to announce a new series showcasing amazing food photographers from around the world.
Food presentation has become a critical success factor for chefs and restaurants, so much so that many consider it as important as the flavor of the dish.
And no one really captures the beauty of a dish better than a professional food photographer. What is more, food photographers are able to turn a menu into a captivating story, and that’s what customers are looking for right now.
This week’s food photographer is Nathan Snoddon, the Director of London-based Food Story Media, a digital brand development agency working with some high-profile chefs such as Clare Smyth.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your passion for photography.
I worked as a cook for over a decade and been fortunate enough to have had many great internships with some great restaurants such as Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, Core by Clare Smyth, and Eleven Madison Park. During my cooking career, I became obsessed with photography and the ability to capture a moment. This lead me back to Core by Clare Smyth, where I began to shoot regularly.
My last position as a cook was as a Sous Chef at Bonhams Restaurant in London before it closed. This was the point where my partner Alla and I made the decision to take Food Story Media to the next level as we felt a pull toward storytelling in our industry. Clare Smyth also had a significant influence on this decision, as we began talking about the need for something authentic.
Our approach stems from a deep understanding of the hospitality industry, it’s craft, and the connection to the people we work with. I always say that great stories are told by those who have lived them.
2. What is your source of inspiration?
People inspire us, hence our slogan “Telling stories of extraordinary people.” We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and our decision to only work with great people is what drives us forward. We aim to represent our industry in its purest form while being expressive, intricate, and undeniably raw.Nathan Snoddon
3. Please describe a typical photo session.
A typical FSM photo session starts at 8 am and lasts to about 7 or 8 pm. We split the day up into studio work (food/drinks/portraits) and candid work, which requires being a fly on the wall to authentically capture ‘a day in the life’ of restaurants and the people within them.
A lot of our style focuses on the organic, so much of the time is spent right in the heat of the kitchen, capturing those incredible moments of complete focus from the team. Many other photographers would find kitchens intimidating, but for me, it’s home.
4. How does print and online (i.e. Instagram) food photography differ?
Instagram content is generally more organic and candid. A print would usually be a bit more polished with what we call ‘forced spontaneity’, which just means reenacting a moment that would be normal and introducing lights to get the look we want.
5. Your company also helps restaurants with social media. What are some of the ingredients behind a successful Instagram account?
Consistency and authenticity are the only things that matter. Too many people try to post things that they think others will like instead of who they really are. It’s vital to be integral to your brand and be confident in communicating that.
Whether visual, copy, or technical…consistency matters. I always recommend people work with one photographer to develop the brand story consistently. It is definitely an investment, but it pays for itself when you develop a strong brand.
When it comes to copy and communicating your brand’s core values, consistent language, and topics are a great way to create a brand personality. If you want to stand out in a concentrated market, these things matter.
6. Can beautiful, professional looking food photos be taken on a smart phone?
Debatable. You’re never going to be able to print professional images from a phone or use them on a website. However, you can definitely create beautiful shots for social media (providing that what you’re shooting is beautiful to begin with).
We are actually developing a phone photography course to launch later this year. If anyone is interested, feel free to get in touch.
7. What type of equipment do you use?
A Sony a7R IV & Profoto B10 + lights.
8. Please share a couple of food photography tricks that can be useful for amateur food photographers.
Spend more time learning about what you are shooting rather than thinking how to shoot it. It’s all about understanding the story before beginning to tell it.