Production Paradise: The first question would be dedicated to your possession of numerous food photography awards. Can you distinguish one that you feel particularly thankful for?
Jean Cazals: It's difficult to say as awards are a point of view from a certain group of chosen people. The decision is in the eye of the beholder in that moment in time. There is so much good stuff in a competition, however I would say that I was thankful for the ‘'Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year'. It's always nice to have an accolade from your peers. As well the various ones for books especially ‘Melt’ for best Chocolate book UK and ‘Teatime’ for Best Dessert Book UK .
Production Paradise: You have shot for many books, but which sphere do you personally enjoy the most: shooting for editorials, advertising or books?
Jean Cazals: I would say books. As I like the intensity of the number of days involved , the amount of images to produce, the atmosphere, the integrity required to produce over 80 images at least and keep the consistency and style. It’s more of a challenge. It’s like comparing a feature film to a commercial film. A book is something which remains unlike a magazine which is gone after a month! Although I do like all forms of photographic support. It’s a question of adapting to the format required and story you have to transcribe. A really nice well designed feature, well styled in a great magazine is the cherry on the cake!
Production Paradise: Working with food seems pretty tempting, especially working with gastronomic masterpieces as you do. Can you share the secret of what happens to the food after the shooting?
Jean Cazals: Well it depends really. Sometimes we eat it sometimes we don’t. If you shoot 8 recipes a day, you can’t eat it all, and not all foods are to the taste of everyone. When you shoot packaging, advertising, you normally don’t, but on books more often. With chefs in a restaurant you definitely do eat it or have a good taste at it. I love working with chefs. Love the atmosphere and the dynamic. Sometimes we just chat and eat when times allow it after the shoot!
Production Paradise: What is your personal favourite dish? When you see the plate in front of you, do you think how beautiful it would look on a photo?
Jean Cazals: I don’t have a favorite. Of course dessert seems by its nature to lend itself more to food photography. But it's really how you approach the subject, the styling, which is very important for me, the atmosphere. Anything more or less can look good, interesting when it's well shot. One thing I don’t like to shoot but I do love to eat, are fried eggs! Fortunately it's not often. There is something very pedestrian about it which visually doesn’t transcribe well with my style . But again that’s just me! Otherwise the beauty of food is everywhere, it´s about how you shoot it! Why do you think food photography is the most popular form of photography or at least one of the most popular!?
Production Paradise: Can you mention any secret techniques that you use in your work which would be of interest to food photography lovers?
Jean Cazals: The classic question I always get asked! No I’m not going to mention any Apps! Everyone has a different eye. And to me the ‘eye’ is the best advice! You either have it or not. You can train it but like all art form it's unfair, some have it and some just don’t. On a practical view, I would only say that the best is to always use the longest lens you can. Even if it’s a wide shot it's always better to go further back and get tighter on the shot with a long lens. It creates an intimacy, an impact. If you shoot a landscape it's different. I personally try to avoid a wide angle unless it's needed. A lens should be carefully chosen for its purpose not just for an effect. An image should stand on its own without artifice. My other advice amongst others would be to keep your light soft and diffuse it. And then the angle, and of course the styling!
Production Paradise: There is a recent tendency on Instagram to take a pic of what you are eating and to hashtag it with #foodporn. It is meant to create a certain competition for food lovers on Instagram. What is your opinion on this explosion of food photography within social media and the increased level of appreciation for good looking food?
Jean Cazals: That's the key question nowadays! Instagram. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it! I find it amusing and the impact it has on the business is, I feel, a little over the top. I would only say that I use it as it's part of the game but feel that somehow, like a lot of other trends, it will fade away or at least become significantly lower. It’s the Emperor´s new clothes so let´s ride with it but let´s not be fooled by it. Food photography like other topics of photography is about looking, understanding light and composition. It's about emotion and the transcription of it. The iPhone is a fabulous tool to let our spontaneity and creative mind flow freely. It produces some fabulous work. Exhibitions start to come out everywhere. It’s the future in the hands of the right person. The digital age has opened the door to every wannabe photographers on the planet. Great! but let's not forget the importance of quality. Instagram is like the fast food of food photography. It's fun but it's not something to eat everyday. That’s my personal opinion and as much as I love shooting on my iPhone, Instagram remains a fun platform. I would love it if we could not show the ‘followers’ and numbers of ‘Likes’ to see if it remains as popular!? As for the term #foodporn!? no comment !
Production Paradise: Is happiness for you connected to gastronomy? If so, please try to describe it with the most expressive words so our readers can taste the happiness while reading your answer.
Jean Cazals: Basically I feel very blessed that I can earn my living well doing something I love. It happens to be food photography but again anyone who gets up happy on a Monday morning enjoys what he/she does for a living! Food photography has this extra bonus of being a hedonist pleasure apart from the pure photographic side of it. I do love food, eating, sharing time with chefs, travelling, visiting world markets, shooting people, food, atmosphere… All of that, I hope this sums up my life which is not bad at all folks! After all, is there a better way to fill time between lunch and dinner than shooting food!
Production Paradise: How has collaborating with Production Paradise helped you in your career as a successful Food Photographer?
Jean Cazals: Without making a marketing comment I would genuinely say that Production Paradise is one of the best platforms on the internet to promote photographers and associated businesses. The design and structure is very stylish and visually strong. The way to move around it is easy and the quality excellent. Now to say if it has helped me? Yes it has, that’s why I have been with them for so many years. But again, it´s always difficult to know exactly the full impact. It´s when a client lets you know where they found your name that you know really! The key is to be out there and in view to potential clients. Now Production Paradise is one of the leaders in its field.
Production Paradise: Thank you for your recognition Jean and for taking the time to speak with us. It was a great pleasure to talk to you!
“Food photography has reached a level in the last 20 years that no other type of photography has reached. It has reach a recognition which was before left behind with fashion being the king of all. Digital cameras allow more freedom and instant gratification due to their technology, which is perfect with food and allows everyone to capture those ice creams and other soufflés! More and more people take on food photography as a career as never before. Digital has been the golden key for everyone to approach food photography, which was till now reserved to the ‘expert’. Food is a key moment that we stop for 3 times a day and therefore needs to be celebrated rightly so. Food photography is an open door to so much creativity”
Long live food, long live food photography !
Jean Cazals - Food Photographer