Scott Grummett is a food photographer and director who likes to make you hungry! That's what he'll tell you anyway - and he's absolutely right! We talked to Scott, a longtime member of Production Paradise based in London, about his ongoing collaboration with McDonald's, the evolution in the Food & Drink space, and much more! With an extensive portfolio and various collabs with iconic brands, Scott is well-versed in all things photography & filmmaking. His work is timeless, and his style irreplicable. From motion to stills, there's no limit to what you can create with Scott behind the camera. Step into his world, where creativity and beauty triumph.

Your work in the Food & Drink space is renowned. What trends do you see emerging within that space?

I think there is a look right now of a single source look with very hard light and a high fashion retro look. It was a signature during the rise of Bon Appetit and has become a clear direction for a lot of portfolios. When done correctly it can be fantastic but often it can become a very stylish scene at the expense of the food. I have always tried to move with the times without ever following anything that is too in vogue. If it's a real of the moment trend, you will as quickly be out of fashion as you were in it. My work sits within advertising that often has to last years and years across several markets so there is a need to make sure it's modern, but timeless and it's a delicate line to tow.

How should photographers continue to produce relevant work even as the industry evolves?

We are in a world of CGI, Digital Screens and AI. I think we have to learn the tools, understand them and use them where necessary. Real will always be best, especially for food. It's living and organic, you get fortunate accidents and a level of reality that a computer can't understand. From there we can polish or create worlds around it that heighten everything.

Food in particular lives in romance and nostalgia, even the feel of opening the red tape on a packet of biscuits. The feeling of eating fish by the sea being heightened where the same meal at home would be good but not quite the same. We have to keep that warmth, that soul, the romance and the chaos, without diluting everything to an AI polished or too heavily data driven bland base.

What do you think is a widely held misconception about Food & Drink photography? And how does your work and expertise in the field disprove it?

People think of food as a very small niche. A plate of food by a window somewhere. It's actually one of the most broad specialisms. In the last few years, I've built large sets, houses and gardens in doors, shot dynamic advertising portraits, blown things up, traveled the world on cruise ships, shot intimate documentaries on farms and been in Michelin star restaurants (to name a few things). This is as well as tabletop film and stills for brands like Lurpak and M&S. Even having someone taking a bite out of something can be heightened by a food professional. I’ve seen performance directors trying to get cast to squeeze food or smile while biting and it never quite works. It’s a specific set of expertise but it can be quite broad.

What makes your work unique compared to other Food & Drink photographers?

My website has no ‘Biography’ or ‘About me’. It just says 'Scott Grummett is a food photographer and director who likes to make you hungry.' It's also in massive letters on the front of my printed portfolio. I like to think I pull the strings in your brain with fat and sugar and salt and make you salivate. The work is often graphic and punchy and almost feels like it has a felt tip pen around it. I don’t think making tasty food is unique to me but I do think up close, graphic, mouth watering gluttony is where I try to pitch myself.

I think I’m also really into the process as much as the final image. I like to think that clients and agencies come to me as they know it will be a professional shoot where we will do everything to a high standard, make their lives as easy as they can be, have a good time and make something great. 

Your recent work with McDonald’s has become highly acclaimed. What is the most exciting and gratifying part of your collaboration with the iconic brand?

I’m well known for my work with McDonald’s, it’s a great relationship and they create so much work which is just everywhere! 

I like to think that, along with Leo Burnett in the UK, we pushed the look of the food. McDonald’s was historically fake, plastic, it almost looked like a model. My aim was always to make it look more like… food. Which sounds crazy but it almost lives in its own space and it felt important to make it feel more like a modern burger bar burger. We’ve roughed up the look of the food, made the cheese more melty, sauces more drippy and made sure that it is all real. People always think it’s all fake but they are the most stringent that everything is above board and exactly as it is in store! It looks delicious and that is always the #1 aim.

I’ve also worked with other McDonald’s markets, most notably Germany with the brilliant Scholz and Friends. We have shot just about everything on the menu in a new look. Again looser, meltier, more real. They were really on board with the process and I’m delighted that a Big Mac now looks almost like an Honest Burger or Patty and Bun whilst still being iconically a Big Mac. 

We want to keep pushing the brand while keeping the warmth and nostalgia that is inherent in such a massive global brand.

As a seasoned professional, what would you advise novice photographers and/or directors against?

You should never be the cheap option. If you do, you’ll be the cheap option for life. There is something to be said for reassuringly expensive, doing things properly with high standards. There are always negotiations to be had and it’s often a case of saying your budget could probably get you ‘x’ which is a good solution. Or if you spent ‘y’ you could have this as well. 

I think as much as what you shouldn’t do it’s also what you should. Do surround yourself with brilliant people. It’s a team sport, get yourself the best. I’ve always been lucky with agents, Peter Bailey and Darling are both fantastic. I’m lucky that I work with brilliant assistants, digis, dops, food stylists etc. Through collaboration you’ll make better things.

You are a valued member at Production Paradise. How has being a part of our community impacted your career since joining?

I always find it hard to say exactly where work comes from. I know that I have had a couple of jobs directly through Production Paradise, but it’s really about people just becoming familiar with you. When a job comes in they will think “oh… there’s that guy.” They might not know exactly why they know your work but if you have created a feeling that they know you then you are on the right track.

I’ve also enjoyed several portfolio reviews, making a network of contacts around the world, some of which I meet regularly for drinks or food when our paths cross on international trips.

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