ASMP sat down with our former National Board Chair Luke Copping and Food Awards Company’s Judge Liaison Alyssia Rawlins to discuss the history of the Pink Lady® Photographer of the Year Contest, and Luke’s experience when he served as a judge for the most recent competition.
ASMP: Alyssia, what’s the history of the contest?
Alyssia Rawlins: Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year was founded by Caroline Kenyon and her team at The Food Awards Company in 2011. Since then, almost 60,000 images have been submitted from almost 80 countries.
The idea for the Awards arose from two decades of experience commissioning photography and the wish to see this wonderful and vibrant sector of photography given the recognition it deserves. Over 20 categories show the full cultural place of food in society around the world.
ASMP: How many entries were submitted in the 2019 Awards?
AR: This year, we saw 9,000 entries from 77 different countries – 28 of which were represented by finalists at our Awards Evening in April, with our overall winner traveling all the way from China.
ASMP: What was the role of your judges, including ASMP’s very own Luke Copping?
AR: Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year has had an illustrious and evolving panel since its first year. The range of skill and expertise is formidable, from great photographers, creative directors, food retailers using the finest photography, photography gallery owners, chefs. Their past judges include Antonio Carluccio, Martin Parr and Yotam Ottolenghi.
The judges assess images across the categories which range from the World Food Programme Food for Life, to Production Paradise Previously Published, to Politics of Food to Food for Sale, taking into account composition, lighting, technique and subject matter as well as their individual intuition!
Luke Copping joined the panel in 2019, chaired by David Loftus, and he was joined by Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse, Founder, The Edible Schoolyard Project, Andrew Scrivani, New York Times and George Motz, Filmmaker, Writer and TV Host. (See the full list of judges).
ASMP: Luke, please describe your experience as a judge for Pink Lady.
LC: I was asked to serve as a judge for two categories for the contest. Most of the work I judged revolved around people interacting with food, either cultivating it, preparing it, or selling it. It was much more journalist and portrait-based than what you might think of as traditional food photography where the distinct emphasis is on the food. The work I judged was very much about the people who make, sell, and enjoy it.
ASMP: What did you like best about being a judge?
LC: Seeing an amazing collection of work and knowing that I was part of an extremely diverse group of judges viewing work from photographers of unique and diverse experiences. This was the first major contest I was invited to participate in.
ASMP: Did any of the category winners surprise you?
LC: Only in so much as I did not get to judge every category, so in many cases, it was both exciting and surprising to get to see even more work from great photographers. Some of my favorites that weren’t in the categories that I judged came from categories, such as the Fujifilm Award for Innovation Category, and the On the Phone Category.
Editor’s Note: Luke’s favorite photos from the contest are included in this article. View the entire 2019 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year Finalists Gallery.