Food Photographer of the Year 2016

By Paul Kerley
BBC News Magazine

image copyrightMark Benham / FPOTY

Oozing cheese toasties, fiery hot kitchens and impressive baking displays - see the winners of this year's Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition.

With plumes of flour jumping high into the air, this image of a baker kneading dough has, says food critic and chairman of the judges Jay Rayner, "a lovely structural element to it".

"It's a scene that gives you the smell of the bakery before the ovens are turned on."

Rayner and nearly 40 other judges decided the photo - by Mark Benham - should be the overall winner of the competition.

"In the end, it normally comes down to three or four photos which particularly arouse opinion. It's down to the content - do they speak to the question of food? And how well do they tell their own stories?"

Scroll and see which other images made the judges' final selection.

image copyrightLucy Pope / FPOTY

Kids' table - by Lucy Pope (UK)

Winner of the Food Sn-apping category

"This category is for images taken on phones, and there were a lot of us who thought this was terrific of its kind," says Rayner.

"The one thing we obsessed about was how high above their heads this photographer had to get - because there is quite a lot of distance. I am almost suspicious they were on a stepladder. But it works."

image copyrightPetra Novotna / FPOTY

Octopus on Ice - by Petra Novotna (Czech Republic)

Winner of the Cream of the Crop category

"It's an octopus flat on a tray of ice, it did make us laugh, because there's always an octopus," says Rayner. "There's just something about the dear old octopus that presents itself for photographers.

"As a competition like this heads into maturity, it can start to develop its own cliches. But remember, things become cliches because they do their job very well."

image copyrightOlimpia Davies / FPOTY

Treasure of the Sea - by Olimpia Davies

Winner of the Food Bloggers category

"We talked about this one an awful lot," says Rayner of this next image - which also includes an octopus. "We have some tentacles, and then a big tangle of squid ink pasta.

"Really I don't know whether you would want to eat this, or wear it as a hat. It's a very striking image, but it starts to take you away from food. You could put it on your wall and enjoy it a lot. I am not sure, though, that you would actually want to eat it."

image copyrightShoeb Faruqee / FPOTY

The Grand Kitchen - by Shoeb Faruqee (Bangladesh)

Winner of the Champagne Taittinger Food for Celebration category

"A very narrow landscape in a smoky room, showing a major cooking operation for a lot of people," says Rayner. "There are huge cauldrons, and there's a very deep umber brown, painterly quality to this. And that divided the judges: some thought it a bit too murky."

"But one of the acute details, in the right-hand corner, a chap with only one arm cooking over a brazier. He's there, and that's what he does. It's a terrific photograph."

image copyrightViktoriia Moskalenko / FPOTY

Go home - by Viktoriia Moskalenko (Ukraine)

Winner of the Bring Home the Harvest category

"We have a shepherd and a big herd of sheep walking on a flat, dusty path," says Rayner. "And the thing is, the man has his back to the camera - he's tired, he's walking away - but his dog has turned and is staring the camera down.

"We loved this image, but we wondered to what degree it spoke about food. That's always an issue when you have live animals in these images."

image copyrightMarcin Jucha / FPOTY

Appreciate every piece - by Marcin Jucha (UK)

Winner of the Politics of Food category

"There are three guys preparing meat in Cuba - one is holding a pig's head. It's a grimy, grimy room - and they are doing it to the very end of the animal," explains Rayner.

"They are overseen by an image of Jesus on the wall. The bottles on the table have the quality of an altar, with the light casting a shadow. It's an unattractive space, from which has emerged a quite extraordinarily beautiful photograph.

"I think it's very much a statement - in a time of poverty, you take every bit of the food you can."

image copyrightSusan Bell / FPOTY

Salmon still life - by Susan Bell (UK)

Winner of the Production Paradise Food off the Press category

"It's very sculptural, this, very beautiful," says Rayner of this winning image from a category for previously published work.

"It does make you think - what can I do with these ingredients? Very stark, very simple."

image copyrightPaula Watts / FPOTY

Floating Vegetable Market - by Paula Watts (USA)

Winner of the Partridges Food for sale category

"This is an unusual marketplace because it's on water," says Rayner. "Very lowslung, what are they, kayaks, canoes? And that is where they are trading."

"One man is counting money out, with fresh vegetables in his boat."

image copyrightRobert Holmes / FPOTY

Mayasara Winery - by Robert Holmes (USA)

Winner of the Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year category

Here, sulphur sticks are burned in barrels prior to their reuse, to prevent wood contamination.

"Multiple large barrels, stretching to the distance," says Rayner. "Smoke rising, with a chap in a hat attending to them. It's very architectural."

image copyrightRobert Holmes / FPOTY

Puno, Lake Titicaca - by Robert Holmes (USA)

Winner of the Marks and Spencer Food Adventures category

"We have a fruit market and a woman in indigenous dress in silhouette," says Rayner. "It's a very straightforward image, and I think in the end that was why it didn't carry the day through to our deliberations for overall winner."

image copyrightJean Cazals / FPOTY

Chicken Cheese toastie - by Jean Cazals (UK)

Winner of the Marks and Spencer Food Portraiture category

"This does look like a classic piece of advertising photography," explains Rayner. "It's beautifully, beautifully done. The cheese is oozing, it's glossy.

"It's hilarious in its outrageousness. It's voluptuous. It's like some sexy model of the food world."

image copyrightMaja Danica Pecanic / FPOTY

Picnic - by Maja Danica Pecanic (Croatia)

Winner of the Food for the Family category

"There was a lot of debate about this, as to whether it had been over-staged by an art director," says Rayner.

"A couple by a table, by a river - they are all wearing woolly hats. There is a globe artichoke on the table, and you wonder what would you do with that on a picnic.

"But there's a lot going on here. It's very cool and aspirational."

image copyrightPolina Plotnikova / FPOTY

Unstill life - by Polina Plotnikova (UK)

Winner of the Pink Lady An Apple a Day category

"We have apples in motion. It's very red, very white," says Rayner. "It's very clear and catches the eye."

image copyrightRobin Goodlad / FPOTY

The wild garlic carpet - by Robin Goodlad (UK)

Winner of the Food in the Field category

"This image, again, divided the judges. Technically, it is possibly the best photo in the competition," explains Rayner. "A woodland glade on a slope, the sun cutting through the trees, and a forest floor of wild garlic in flower."

"Some of us wondered if it was too gorgeous - the kind of thing you might find on a greetings card which says 'sympathy for your loss'.

"That's not to take away from the brilliance of it. If you see a photo which seems to immediately suggest a commercial use, you know they have got something right."

Top image: Flour Frenzy by Mark Benham (UK) - overall winner of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2016, and winner of the The Philip Harben Award for Food in Action category.

All images subject to copyright.

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