The next best thing to eating food is easily capturing it with a lens and eye as big as your stomach.
For the 2016 edition of the Pink Lady Photographer of the Year competition, the competition was naturally tough with entries coming in from all over the world to show off their definition of food. Flour plumes, artistic octopus and abstract salmon are just some of the zany terms thrown around this year.
The competition’s resident food critic and chairman of the judges Jay Rayner said that, “it’s a scene that gives you the smell of the bakery before the ovens are turned on.”
“In the end, it normally comes down to three or four photos which particularly arouse opinion. It’s down to the content – do they speak to the question of food? And how well do they tell their own stories?”
Of the final entrants, 40 judges picked Mark Benham’s flour bomb photo to be the winner of 2016. Scroll through to see who else reached the upper echelons of food photography and a short comment by Rayner behind each image.
Talk about the National Geographic photo competition of food land.
Winner of the Politics of Food category. "There are three guys preparing meat in Cuba - one is holding a pig's head. It's a grimy, grimy room - and they are doing it to the very end of the animal," explains Rayner. "They are overseen by an image of Jesus on the wall. The bottles on the table have the quality of an altar, with the light casting a shadow. It's an unattractive space, from which has emerged a quite extraordinarily beautiful photograph. I think it's very much a statement - in a time of poverty, you take every bit of the food you can."
Winner of the Production Paradise Food off the Press category. "It's very sculptural, this, very beautiful," says Rayner. "It does make you think - what can I do with these ingredients? Very stark, very simple."
Winner of the Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year category. "Here, sulphur sticks are burned in barrels prior to their reuse, to prevent wood contamination. Multiple large barrels, stretching to the distance," says Rayner. "Smoke rising, with a chap in a hat attending to them. It's very architectural."
Winner of the Marks and Spencer Food Adventures category. "We have a fruit market and a woman in indigenous dress in silhouette," says Rayner. "It's a very straightforward image, and I think in the end that was why it didn't carry the day through to our deliberations for overall winner."
Winner of the Marks and Spencer Food Portraiture category. "This does look like a classic piece of advertising photography. It's beautifully, beautifully done. The cheese is oozing, it's glossy. It's hilarious in its outrageousness. It's voluptuous. It's like some sexy model of the food world."
Winner of the Food Bloggers category: "We talked about this one an awful lot," says Rayner. "We have some tentacles, and then a big tangle of squid ink pasta. Really I don't know whether you would want to eat this, or wear it as a hat. It's a very striking image, but it starts to take you away from food. You could put it on your wall and enjoy it a lot. I am not sure, though, that you would actually want to eat it."
Winner of the Food in the Field category
"This image, again, divided the judges. Technically, it is possibly the best photo in the competition," explains Rayner. "A woodland glade on a slope, the sun cutting through the trees, and a forest floor of wild garlic in flower."
"Some of us wondered if it was too gorgeous - the kind of thing you might find on a greetings card which says 'sympathy for your loss'.
"That's not to take away from the brilliance of it. If you see a photo which seems to immediately suggest a commercial use, you know they have got something right."
Winner of the Pink Lady An Apple a Day category. "We have apples in motion. It's very red, very white," says Rayner. "It's very clear and catches the eye."
Winner of the Food for the Family category.
"There was a lot of debate about this, as to whether it had been over-staged by an art director," says Rayner. "A couple by a table, by a river - they are all wearing woolly hats. There is a globe artichoke on the table, and you wonder what would you do with that on a picnic. But there's a lot going on here. It's very cool and aspirational."
Winner of the Bring Home the Harvest category. "We have a shepherd and a big herd of sheep walking on a flat, dusty path," says Rayner. "And the thing is, the man has his back to the camera - he's tired, he's walking away - but his dog has turned and is staring the camera down. We loved this image, but we wondered to what degree it spoke about food. That's always an issue when you have live animals in these images."