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Shutter Stories: Amy Kinnear

March 9, 2021

Welcome to Shutter Stories where some of the most inspiring, talented, and successful food photographers and food stylists answer 10 questions about their work, insider tips, future ambitions and a peak into their studios. They take us behind the camera (and sometimes into their prop cupboards) to get a more intimate look into how they […]

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PHOOD is the cherry waiting to be placed on top of your Food Photography and Food Blogging aspirations. We are the course you’ve been looking for: everything you need to know about Food Photography. 

Welcome to Shutter Stories where some of the most inspiring, talented, and successful food photographers and food stylists answer 10 questions about their work, insider tips, future ambitions and a peak into their studios. They take us behind the camera (and sometimes into their prop cupboards) to get a more intimate look into how they work, how to gain experience, and the best ways to break into this fascinating industry.

Shutter Stories dishes the dirt on a range of topics including careers in food photography, money, equipment and social media. This is a chance to see what professionals don’t show you behind the camera and and insider look at how they work day-to-day.

Food Stylist: Amy Kinnear

Who: Amy Kinnear 

What: Two dream jobs (most of the time!). Besides my day-to-day job as a food stylist and prop stylist I am a new mum- and this is taking up much of my time at the moment.

When: A date I’ll never forget is when I moved out to Dubai to work on a food magazine. I had never been before and it was a big leap of faith especially since it meant leaving my now husband behind. Somehow I must have known it was going to be a great career move. I learnt so much and built up a portfolio I am so proud. This put me in a really good place to start my freelance career when I left four and a half years later.  

Where: Currently based in UK, in the South West about an hour out of London. 

Why: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Corny but completely resonates with me. I’m a creative person so having a career that allows me the opportunity to do something different everyday is what I love the most. 

How did you get started in food styling?

From a young age, I’ve always been interested in cooking and styling. I took Food Technology at school as a GCSE and at A Level. I then went on to study Food and Nutrition at University. But is was the recipe creation and presentation that really had me interested over any other modules.

I then started working on a food magazine for a UAE based supermarket Spinneys. In the time I was there I learnt a huge amount but particularly about food styling and it has all evolved from there. 

Toughest food shoot to date?

I once shot a whole desserts spread in a large freezer. I love the shots and look back on the shoot fondly but trying to delicately handle desserts and their respective garnishes at -18°C was not easy. That said, I would do a lot for the perfect shot so. Would I do it again? Yes probably! 

Amy’s toughest food shoot to date was shooting these iced desserts……in a freezer!

Best food styling tip?

Above all you want anyone who sees your image or video to want dive into that a plate of food. And you can lead them in by making them imagine they are right there. Whether that’s a spoon taken out of a bread and butter pudding, a few squares missing from a brownie tray, a round of camembert that’s freshly dipped into with the cheese still pooling. It creates lovely textures and really makes for a delicious shot.  

One styling tool you’d be lost without?

This is a really hard one. A good set of knives is really important but I’d say my most used tool are my set of tweezers. From twirling spaghetti to placing a frond of dill in the perfect spot or equally removing something that doesn’t look right from the depths of a delicately assembled plate, these are always super useful on set.  

Amy suggests topping soups with a drizzle of oil, a swirl of yoghurt, herbs as well as anything that can add texture such as croutons or roasted vegetables.

Best tips to perk up soups?

Soups are great because there are so many options to style them beautifully- even if their base colour isn’t very appealing. Think about what’s in the soup- can you bring any of this out as a topping. Perhaps pieces of roasted butternut squash, griddled corn or sugar snap peas. A smooth soup needs texture- golden croutons, toasted nuts, savoury granola, roasted crushed spices fried in ghee – again the opportunities are endless, as long as they compliment the flavor.

A swirl of yogurt, crème fraiche or cream can break up a block of colour and create beautiful patterns when swirled through. A drizzle of oil too can add colour and texture contrast as well as flavor- chilli or basil oil for example. Herbs can really freshen up a soup too- or micro herbs add a really delicate touch. but make sure you add them right before the shot is taken so that they look perky rather than wilted. 

How do you constantly inspire yourself?

I am always buying new cookbooks and food magazines and scrolling through Instagram – I follow chefs, food stylists, prop stylists, bakers, photographers. Usually I’d be trying new restaurants too for inspiration- like to see how someone else has imagined and styled a particular dish. 

What’s on the horizon for you? Something you want to achieve or are working towards?

I have been working with an online cake company called Cakehead for a while now since they launched and we have some really exciting shoots coming up. If you have a sweet tooth and are in the UK – look them up!

Who should we interview next and why?

There are so many brilliant people in this lovely food world. Liam Baker is a wonderful Food Artist and his work is seriously cool. I love Loic Parisot’s work too- he is such a talented food stylist. And both lovely people too. 

This or That!

Styling- sweet or savory?

Sweet 

Top shot or side on?

Depends what it is – I love a top shot but the dish might not always lend itself to that. A burger for example is always best shot from the side. Always let the food drive the angle. 

Editorial or restaurant?

Editorial- there is more scope to be creative!

Favorite food magazine?

Really tricky as there are loads but I like Olive – recipes are inspirational and follow current food trends but most importantly they are achievable. 

Currently reading?

Mostly baby books! “Here we are : Notes for living on planet earth”, I highly recommend for babies and have children. 

And that’s it for this time! Who should PHOOD interview next? If you want to see someone featured in this space (or would like us to interview YOU!), email us on hello@learnphood.com.

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