‘There are often so many stories and ideas behind food and drink and I like to hear stories about what inspires these ideas‘
Being a Food & Hotel Photographer comes with the responsibility of being able to help companies promote, sell, and attract people to their products. Nobody understands this more than Viktor Kery. Below he provides us with an insight into why food photography is so important, why he likes to understand the stories behind the food & drink he shoots, and whether he actually gets to taste any of the food he photographs!!
What is your background and what do you currently do within hospitality?
I am currently a Food and Hotel Photographer, although I do have a background and have worked in hotels throughout my whole career. I started my career as a Breakfast Waiter and then moved to Conference and Events to become a Banquet Waiter. I have worked as an Assistant Manager, a Duty Manager and more recently in business development. Therefore, I have a good understanding of how a hotel operates with both operational and commercial knowledge. Now I run my own photography business which serves the hospitality industry.
Photography has always been a passion, but I never previously had the time or resources to get into it. When I had the opportunity to move from an operational role to work in business development, I then had more time that I could use to develop myself. I started to do food photography for the hotel I worked at during this time. They really liked the work I did, and I was able to build a good portfolio. This is how my photography career began and how I built up my business. I still learn something new everyday about this industry which I really love.
What do you enjoy about food photography and why is it important?
I think the most important thing with food photography is to create something that will entice and grab the attention of diners, that will make them want to come to your restaurant or have whatever it is that is being promoted. I not only like to capture food, but what I really love is the art behind food or cocktail making for example. I like capturing the art of the flavours and textures of food and the whole fine dining experience that comes with it.
However, I do not have a preference for what kind of food it may be. It can be the simplest or the most expensive rare food you could find. If there is something unique about it or if there’s a story behind why the chef created it, then this is what I really love and I try to emphasise and craft an image that focuses on all these things.
What are the most challenging things about being a Food Photographer?
The most challenging thing is to educate professionals within the industry. For them to see the value behind high quality visual content whether it is for video or photography. There are a lot of restaurants and hotels who have great images, however I have also seen some bad images. Some companies spend little time on their photography, and I think they would benefit from using better quality images.
I would like to open their eyes, for them to see that what they are paying for is not just an overpriced image on a file. I wish they would see that having better images would help them to gain more business and is an investment. I know that everyone is tight on budget, which is why some places try to cut corners and find ways to spend less money on photography. However, there is a very thin line between spending less money and obtaining a good quality image.
Where do you find creative inspiration for your photography?
Mainly online, I use Pinterest, Instagram, and Google when I am looking for creative content. When I am hired for a job, once I have the brief the first thing I do is to create a mood board. I send this over to my clients to understand what they want to achieve. Then we discuss ideas further and build up shots around these ideas.
Post isolation, do you have any projects that you hope to be working on?
I had seasonal and other projects which had to be postponed. There was a project I was working on and did several days of photography. I then had to stop due to the announcement of lockdown back in March. Once the hotels reopen, I am confident things will pick up and I will be back to continue all my projects.
What have you been doing during lockdown to keep busy?
Firstly, I have had to entertain my six year old child. I have included and got her involved in some personal projects with photography. I have tried to keep creative and I turned my living room into a photography studio while my wife was away. My daughter and I made a big mess which we both enjoyed. I also like to learn, and I am about to introduce some motion pictures to my portfolio in addition to still photography. Once the market is open again, I will be back with my new service.
I have tried to keep a balance in working from home and enjoying the free time I have. I try to go out a lot and cycle most days. This time off has given me the time to think about my business; to see what I can offer, how I can be different and how I can help the industry to generate more money with my services.
Do you have any food and beverage outlets that you are looking forward to visiting after the isolation period?
Yes, there is one where I have a seasonal project, which is at the InterContinental London O2. They have a really good restaurant called the Peninsula. I really like working there, the team and the food are amazing. I am looking forward to going back and continuing to work with them. There are a few others as well which I am looking forward to working with, but if I had to choose one it would be the InterContinental London O2.
Do you get to taste the food you photograph?
Yes, however I do not taste the food until I am told to do so. Usually what happens is, once I have photographed the food, I am sometimes allowed to taste it while I am waiting for the next plate to photograph. This is a great opportunity which I really enjoy.
However, this is not always the case. Some people might think that I am a food photographer and I am so lucky because I get to eat food every day. Sometimes there isn’t always time to do this, especially if I have a lot of food to shoot. However if I have time and I am allowed to, then yes, I love to try the food. This helps me to taste and find out more details about the food I photograph, which then helps me to portray these details in my images.
What are your favourite items of food and drink to photograph?
I do not have a particular favourite. But I do like to photograph food which has amazing flavours, textures, looks good and has vibrant colours. Or anything that has an interesting story behind it. There are often so many stories and ideas behind food and drink and I like to hear stories about what inspires these ideas. Mixologists for example do a lot of trial and error to see what works, and sometimes they invent things which go into a cocktail to make it unique.
A few years ago, I was at a bar and had to photograph a signature cocktail. The bar is named after Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to fly solo from Croydon to Australia during the 1930’s. They built up a range of cocktails about the destinations she stopped at. From London down to the Mediterranean, through Pakistan, down to Eastern Asia and Australia. I think she stopped 8-10 times in total. The bar built up a whole cocktail range and flavours which were inspired by her journey. I enjoy these kinds of stories with a meaning.
Tell me something that people do not know about you?
I often get asked by people if I can photograph other things for them, for example children, pets etc. The truth is I am terrible at photographing other things apart from food. Even with my daughter, when she was a new born I struggled to take photos of her.
I also do not like Nutella. People are normally shocked when they hear this. It’s just not for me.
Complete the sentence. I am happiest when?
I am happiest when people around me are happy too. This is in my personal and professional life. It is good to be surrounded by people who are like minded and happy and it makes me feel good and happy as well. It is much better to be able to work and live with people who have a happy mindset.
You can learn more about Viktor Kery and view more examples of his work by visiting his website here.