JP from Faydit Photography tells us Why Chefs Should Have Food Shots Taken by a Professional Photographer
A heart attack gave chef Jean Phillipe Baudey the untimely wake-up call that he needed to change his lifestyle, but it also gave him the opportunity to relaunch himself as a food photographer.
Frenchman JP, as he’s known to friends and clients, spent the best part of 30 years cooking professionally in France and the UK, but his main passion apart from food has always been photography.
It was only when he was running a pub in the South West ten years ago that he realised that his hobby might just lead on to a new career.
“Whether it’s fishing, running or Xbox, I think every chef has a hobby to help them disconnect and relax from the pressures of work and mine has always has been photography.
“When I was running the pub, some photos were needed urgently for an editorial so I took them and suddenly I was systematically taking photos of my dishes or shooting photos for chef friends as a favour.”
And so Faydit Photography was born, specialising in commercial photography and graphic design for the food industry.
After cooking for so many years, JP brings a unique approach to food photography and an understanding of the variety of complex, technical needs – both culinary and visual – that his clients require.
JP says that one thing that sets him apart from other food photographers is that he develops a stronger bond with his subjects through food and produce.
“In the last 30 years, I have spent a lot of time visiting farms, butchers, producers and markets. Those places are familiar to me and, equally, I feel totally comfortable in a kitchen or a restaurant so as a photographer I know where to stand, I know what’s happening next and, more importantly, I know what is behind me!
“What makes a good food photographer is being able to catch that glimpse of pride in the eye of a chef or producer, capturing that feeling of achievement on the plate or in the product.”
It wasn’t until his heart attack that JP realised he would swap his chef’s knife for his camera but he says his health problems gave him time to put things into perspective.
“I never thought about giving up cooking professionally until then but I soon realised that I wasn’t able to carry on at the same pace.
“I could have stepped back and worked in an office, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself. What was at first sight a personal tragedy gave me the chance to put things into perspective and I have been lucky having the support of my partner, family and friends.”
Five years down the line and JP is in demand as a photographer and he has a busy schedule with a brand new photo studio planned for spring 2018.
His clients include a wide range of businesses, from farmers and small producers to restaurants and catering suppliers. He has also worked extensively for the Chefs’ Forum at regular events around the UK.
Food photography has been in the news recently when Michel Roux banned customers taking photos in his restaurant. With the quality of cameras on smartphones improving all the time, everybody sees themselves as a photographer these days. Does JP worry about the increased competition from ‘amateurs’?
“In the right hands, a smartphone can be a brilliant tool but photography, like cooking, is a creative medium. You need some equipment, some skill and a product. You can give a person all the latest kitchen equipment they want, but if they can’t cook, or have bad products to work with, it won’t happen. On the other hand, with just a six-burner, a proper chef will still amaze you.
“For me, the key point is lighting. I see a lot of great food so badly shot. I know that a food photographer is not always affordable for every occasion, but nowadays visuals are prime, and a bad photo can be a bad advert for your business.
“Anyway, banning photography in restaurants is a good thing but then banning the use of mobile phones in restaurant should be the standard.
“You are out for a special occasion, with your family or friends, so enjoy the company, the service, the food and the hospitality. The rest of the world can wait.”
Five years after swapping the knife for the camera, JP has shown that he could transfer his skills and love of cooking into a new career, but he does he miss the kitchen?
“Not at all. I’m still working with food but just in a different way and I couldn’t be happier.”