Discover the inspiring journey of Kris Kirkham, whose lifelong love for food and early culinary career have seamlessly transitioned into a passion for food photography. Explore standout projects, collaborative ventures, and the creative process behind his mouthwatering images. From farm-fresh beginnings to working with top brands, join us on a visual feast where each photograph captures the essence of flavor and artistry.

What inspired your journey into food photography, and how did you transition into this field from your previous endeavors?

I was the kid who loved food. Loved cooking with his mom in the kitchen, loved growing up on a farm with fresh fruit from the orchard, rearing chickens and picking fresh eggs every day.  I discovered how inspirational food can be. It can comfort, it can nourish, it can inspire and bring someone to tears. Food has a physiological and psychological power. I realised at a young age that food would always be important in my life. A passion for creating led me to a career in the culinary world, and following that, a career in food photography. I learned how to process film in a darkroom before I ever took my first photo. It all seemed so magical to me. From pressing a button to having a lifelong image on a piece of paper (and now on a monitor / in the web).  Progressing from being a chef and my love of food, to being a food photographer always seemed like a logical step / a part of the plan and another great way to express myself and create.  When I was 14, I realised that if I could cook, I could work, travel, and be anywhere. People always need to eat right? Then I thought, what if I was to focus on learning how to cook, then learn how to take photos put them together and get paid to travel around the world, taking photos of food, and then, hopefully eating it! In 2006, I made the bold choice to move from Vancouver, Canada to London, with the aim of studying at the University of Arts, specifically the London College of Communication. Alongside my studies, I landed a job as a chef at the National Gallery. Whilst I was there, the gallery decided to commission a cookbook! I was very lucky and got deeply involved, from crafting and testing recipes; to cooking and styling the food for the book. That project catapulted me into a whirl wind of opportunities. Shortly after, I found myself stepping into the world of photography – assisting photographers, which became the key to unlocking my exciting new career path.         

Your background as an award-winning chef certainly sets you apart in the world of food photography. How does your culinary expertise influence your approach to capturing food in your images?

I know, and I understand food. I know what it takes to turn an average dish into something amazing, and I know how to capture these things. My love for food and on going interest as well, help me showcase and capture images that make people salivate. My 15 years of experience as a chef, working with brilliant people in the hospitality industry and love of food… never really ended. It just transitioned. Now, instead of serving up fantastic food on a plate, I channel all my expertise and passion into crafting tantalising images that leave you craving more.  It’s not just about food –it’s about crafting visual feasts that transport you into a world of flavour and delights.  

What do you believe are the key elements that make your food photography stand out and resonate with audiences?

Let’s clear up some of the misconceptions about food photography.  Almost everything I photograph is edible; in fact, we often indulge in a lot of the food that we capture (that’s the best part!). If I don’t want to eat it while photographing it, why would the viewer want to eat it?  My photography style is bold and punchy, vibrant saturated colours with deep shadows. I like to get up close to the food, making sure it stands out, almost jumping off the page when you see it.  I want you to see the drips of fat, every sprinkle of salt, all the bits that make the food ooze with deliciousness.  

What do you believe makes your photography resonate so well with Nando's, Deliveroo and Itsu, leading to long-standing relationships? 

Over the span of my career, I’ve built some fantastic relationships with brands.  I know it’s important to show their product in the best capacity, but it also needs to be real. People don’t like to be misled, they want to know that the image of the food they are looking at is real, it’s attainable and it’s tasty! I also know and understand the ins and outs of each brand.  I’ve been a loyal customer of these brands for years. Before our initial meetings, I explored each one, digging into research, and grasping their brand essence and target audience.  

In what ways do you collaborate with these brands to ensure that your photography aligns with their marketing goals and brand identity? 

Collaboration is one of my favourite parts of the creative industry. We are better together! I strongly believe this, and I do my best to make sure that my personality and identity as a photographer reflect this. Every shoot, every day, every moment we are growing and moving forward. Nando’s, (one of my oldest clients) and I have been working together,collaborating and growing together for the last 9 years. There’s a large feeling of openness and throwing ideas around, discussion and opportunity to try new things which is a key element to this successful teamwork.  Working closely with these brands and teams has been fantastic. We push each other to be creative and capture the essence of each brand. 

Can you describe a particularly memorable project or campaign you've worked on with one of these brand?

I've been collaborating with Deliveroo and their Global team, producing fantastic photos of classic dishes like burgers, pizza, and pasta for their app, site, and ads. It was a blast because we had the freedom to make the food look top-notch without tying it to any specific restaurant. Getting the lighting, angles, and food styling just right was crucial for the project. 

What advice would you give to other photographers looking to establish similar long-standing partnerships with brands?

For photographers aiming to build enduring partnerships, my top advice is simple: listen. Pay close attention to the clients brief and desires, while also providing your valuable insights (afterall, they're investing in your expertise as much as your photography and creativity). Continuously evolve and strive for improvement, recognising that your reputation hinges on each project. Above all, check your ego at thedoor—long-term relationships thrive on humility. 

In the competitive field of food photography, how do you differentiate yourself and maintain a unique style that sets you apart from others?

Food has a story, it evokes emotions. I work hard to tell that story or evoke those feelings through my images. Constantly pushing, never settling, trying to get the best out of each and every image. My style( bold and punchy) helps to grab attention and makes you look and explore the image.  I often look outside the field of food photography, studying some of the masters Ansel Adams and Edward Westonare, two of my favourite photographers. However, I also draw inspiration from contemporary photographers like Liam Wong, who challenge the boundaries in his field.    

What excites you most about the future of food photography, and are there any upcoming projects or collaborations you're particularly looking forward to?

The exciting part of food photography is that there is so much out there that’s still untold. I’ve recently been working on a personal project/collaboration with some friends in the industry, that I’m really excited about. We’ve called it “Fairy Tale” banquet and it’s trying to find that line between reality and fairytale.    

Having been a member for several years, how hasbeing part of Production Paradise been beneficial to you? 

Being a member of Production Paradise for almost a decade has been incredibly beneficial to my career in numerous ways. The platform has provided me with unparalleled visibility within the creative industry. Showcasing my work to other creatives has increased my exposure and led to valuable connections. It’s hard to always understand where the work comes from, but having your work seen is so important. Production Paradise does this in a fantastic way and I’m sure that it’s helped me generate significant job opportunities. 

We thank Kris for his time and insight! You can see more of his work on his Production Paradise member page and website.