Asparagus.  It’s loaded with vitamins, has supposed aphrodisiacal powers and is reputed to cure a hangover.   Entire festivals are devoted to it’s arrival.  People write reams in newspaper columns about the “joys of asparagus”.

Am I missing something?  It’s alright, it’s a nice vegetable as vegetables go.  I like it more than peas, but less than cheese.  It also makes your pee smell weird.  Nobody is perfect.

This is a long and slightly random introduction to my main reason for this post, because I am far too British to just launch into a good old boast without a slightly embarrassed cough and a long preamble.

Every month a food magazine called Crumbs (got to love that title!!) has a feature called “Tricks of the Trade” where they spotlight one of the many different jobs within the food industry.  I was featured this month in their “Food Photographer”.  Oh, and this Asparagus picture was one of the ones they used to illustrate the article.  See, not completely random …

If you fancy a look, here’s the link & article.  *coughs and shuffles off*

Picture perfect

Here at Crumbs, we spend the majority of our day drooling over images of deliciously styled food. Whether a juicy steak, refreshing cocktail, towering cake or crate of vegetables, not a day goes by when we don’t flick through the magazine and want to eat something right off the page. Food and lifestyle photographer and local lass Kirstie Young, is responsible for many of those tempting moments. Here she reveals the ins and outs of life behind the lens

Which equipment do you use?

My main camera is a Canon 5D MarkII, together with a selection of prime lenses and a Manfrotto tripod. I use mainly natural light, but carry a couple of Speedlites in my bag and a daylight balanced continuous light for when the British summertime is merely a distant childhood memory. I also have a box of tricks that include clamps, reflectors, netting & blackouts, smoke and mirrors.

What inspires you? 

Lots of things. I love exciting ingredients and fresh combinations. I like seasonal cooking, but am also excited by new innovations in food. I want my pictures to capture the spirit of the dish and to make people drool. Whether it’s a single stalk of rhubarb or an elaborate banquet, the food has to look beautiful. 

Which food photographers to you admire?

Keiko Oikawa’s work stands out for me for its sheer beauty. She uses a very simple colour palette which makes her pictures very fresh. I also love the Boston photographer, Franzine Zaslow, whose pictures have a very zen-like style and earthy quality. Jonathan Lovekin is another favourite.

What cuisine do you most enjoy taking pictures of?

I think it is the sheer variety of different jobs that I enjoy the most, more than any one cuisine. I love that one day I will be visiting a cheese producer and the next I will be in the middle of a frenetic kitchen.

Do you work on set? What’s that like?

My style is quite raw and natural, so generally my work calls for pictures taken in a real environment rather than in a studio setting. If the client’s brief requires a more controlled environment, more often than not I will shoot in my own kitchen as it is full of natural light, and I have a garage that is groaning with shelves of crockery and linens. On days like this, home life and work life merge in a fairly surreal way, and my three year old has learned to eat his dinner surrounded by lighting stands and tripods!

Do you ever have any input into the food styling of an image? 

Yes. The bigger food jobs are a great collaboration of photographer, stylist and client to get the very best shot. On smaller jobs it is sometimes just me and a crate of seasonal produce or some artisan cheese to style on my kitchen table.  

You must spend a lot of your time around food, do you cook much? 

There is a certain ‘kid in a sweetshop’ element to being a food photographer. If I’ve been around food all day then I crave a dinner of cheese and crackers, or a bowl of porridge. That said I love cooking for friends and family, and I collect cookery books like other women collect shoes.

Any tips of for budding food photographers? 

Study the photographers you love and then find your own unique style. Food photography is a pretty crowded arena, and to make it a career it’s essential to have a style that makes you stand out from the crowd. Spend a day taking photographs of a single ingredient to learn what changing light and angle can do to the finished image. When you look at a dish or an ingredient first visualise how you would like it to look, then try and recreate it. Oh and try not to annoy your family by letting their dinner go cold while you try and photograph it while hanging from the lampshade!

Twitter: @kirstieyoung