Known for its beaches and striking architecture, Sydney is Australia’s largest city and a melting pot of the country’s many culinary pastimes. Additionally, its history with Europe and proximity to Asia brings an inherent East-meets-West diversity to this city’s cuisine, making it one of the most exciting and unique food scenes on Earth. Notable in the close ties its traditional restaurants have with local farms, Sydney perfects Australian classics such as sausages and meat pies as well as seafood staples barramundi, oysters, and prawns. Also famed for its deserts, pavlovas and lamington cakes, the official cake of Australia, are big draws in Harbour City. Yet healthy options are also abundant, so much so that Sydney is the literal birthplace of the granny smith apple. Many worldwide may also find a surprise in that Sydney has out-classed the world’s hipster population in embracing avocado toast early in the 20th century, many decades before the invention of tight jeans. With so many possibilities, a food photographer in Sydney can simultaneously be a citizen of Australia and the world in the dishes they focus their craft on.
At Wonderful Machine, we define food photography as imagery of food as a product or an experience, including showing its growth, preparation, and how it is plated and consumed. As undeniable as the cuisine they capture, each of these following professionals is a lock as a top Sydney food photographer.
Originally from Ireland, James Horan specializes in editorial and tourism photography. While there are many philosophies beneath the umbrella of food photography, James approaches his from a documentary perspective. Known for his sense of humor, he is notable for his consistent inclusion of people in his work for the culinary industry. While some focus primarily on dishes for advertisements and cookbooks, James prefers to showcase the human experience of preparing and enjoying food. He often features cooks at work in the kitchen or posing next to their dishes, highlighting the pride and care they take in their craft. Also notable in his depiction of farmers cultivating the crops that are so integral to the local restaurant scene, James is definitely a prime example of a photographer telling a farm-to-table story through images. Just as dedicated to showing people enjoying food in all kinds of settings, James has a lifestyle edge to his work. These two specialties pair magnificently to exemplify the tourism photography he perfects while filling a relevant need for the local economy.
Early in her life, Tanya Zouev was ready to go down the path of graphic design, finding a particular passion for typography. All of this changed when, at 16, she got a Pentax P30 35mm camera. From then on, she spent most of her time in darkrooms and, even at such a young age, had enough of an enterprising spirit to assist established photographers. Spending the first ten years of her career doing any kind of photography she could to hone her gift, her talents revealed themselves in a mastery of multiple specialties. While a walk through her portfolio will absolutely prove this, her own words show where her heart is:
Most days, my life revolves around photography in some shape or form. I have a love of food that comes a close second to that of taking pictures. I cook as I shoot, a marriage of heart and intuition. When I’m working in the studio, I just know when I’ve got the capture. The same goes for when I’m in the kitchen, I just know when the flavors are right. Understandably then, twenty years ago I bought those two loves together and started shooting food.
As the diversity of her experience is exemplified within each of her specialties, Tanya’s food photography is incredibly dynamic. She handles bright, fun-oriented advertising approaches by placing certain dishes on backgrounds of an array of colors: loud neons, subdued blues, and pale greens. She will also, just as often, go for a fancier presentation, using fine white cloths, rustic wooden tables, or marble surfaces. Tanya, within such a dynamic portfolio, shines as a Sydney food photographer who is incredibly adept at capturing the texture of food as well as the best moods to accompany it.
Petrina Tinslay is a revered food, travel, interiors, and lifestyle photographer based in Sydney and working all over the world. For over 20 years she has established herself, especially as a premier food photographer, shooting for multiple award-winning bestselling cookbooks by legendary chefs including Nigella Lawson, Donna Hay, Tyler Florence, Bill Granger, Michele Cranston, Delia Smith, Mark Best, and Neil Perry. Her work will embrace both bright and dark background colors to embody the spirit of any meal or ingredient that she is focusing on. With sharpness in detail throughout everything Petrina does, the food itself can, in one image, be presented as a full meal, meticulously arranged and complete in its environment. Yet in the next image, she’ll present it in an extreme close-up, making the lines between fine art and food photography blur within her great ability. Proving this, Petrina has been recognized with many awards, including the James Beard Foundation’s ‘Best Food Photography’, The Julia Child Award for ‘Best Photography’, ’Best Cookbook’ in the Glenfiddich Food & Drinks Awards, winner of the ‘Best Photography Book’ at the Paris Book Festival and winner in the ‘Best Food Photography’ category at the IACP Cookbook Awards. Additionally, she is a sought-after keynote speaker within this industry.
Recognized as one of the top food and lifestyle photographers in Australia, William Meppem is a perfect example of focusing on sheer artistry. Leaning more heavily on the dishes themselves, William’s work stands out in how beautifully he can make each appear. He achieves this through his care and effectiveness in providing sharp detail to his images while also thematically tying the surrounding environment to the food he is documenting. William often uses white and pale colors, which both highlight the color of the food in a striking way while also blending anything else, be it the plate, wrap, or tray, with the background itself. He operates out of a studio based in Rosebury that includes a full kitchen with an abundance of natural light that defines his work. Having worked extensively in both New York and London, William brings an unparalleled high-class professionalism to his craft as both, simultaneously, a fine artist and a food photographer in Sydney.
For such an accomplished photographer, Anson Smart has an amazing story as to how he got there. Developing a fascination with piloting early in life, he earned an aviation science degree. Anson soon found his inner voice telling him this was not his path and devoted the next few years to surfing and playing in a band. When he relocated to San Francisco, he discovered his love for photography and attended the College of Fine Arts. After returning to Australia, Anson set up as an interior, lifestyle, and food photographer in Sydney to great success. Now 20 years later, he shoots all over the world. Anson’s style is very much rooted in bringing the beauty out of his subject. Yet his portfolio is extremely dynamic in the world of food photography. He’ll often do an entire series on a specific place, showing cooks preparing the meals in a way that is generously behind the scenes and in real-time. This exemplifies his ability to work with people and provide a comfortable environment wherever he’s shooting. The same shows in his photographs of people dining and enjoying these meals made all the more striking with his gifts in interior photography.
I love the variety that interior, architecture, lifestyle, and food photography bring. But whatever I’m shooting, I like to give it a mood or an emotion. The aim is to make the images modern and relaxed yet timeless.
Yet it’s his work capturing the food itself that Anson also stands out in. He’s incredibly thematic, using variations of darkness and light to add a dramatic flair to his imagery, often with background colors matching or complementing the dish he’s shooting. This a great example of finding your life path organically and still managing to absolutely master it.
Having earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in photography, Danella Chalmers has been a professional photographer for over ten years, working extensively both in Australia and overseas. With a focus on food, interiors, and still-life photography, Danella is incredibly accomplished, providing images for multiple cookbooks and culinary editorials. With an amazing talent for capturing deserts, her own dedication to presenting foods for people with health issues is also a notable achievement. With bright and detailed photos throughout her impressive portfolio, she provides a way for people needing to make a dietary change with the reality that it can be tasty, and even fun, to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Her knack for photographing meals with their own ingredients surrounding them also shows how educational food photography can be, giving a window that yes, you too, can make some of these amazing things on your own.
Originally from Spain, Andre Martin is one of Australia’s leading photographers in portraiture, lifestyle, interiors, and food. Discovering his love for photography in his teenage years, he began working at the Australian Consolidated Press at the age of 16, gaining experience in a variety of photography specialties. By the 1990s Andre was shooting freelance, a successful career that lasts to this day. He now operates out of a studio based on Sydney’s lower North Shore complete with two working kitchens and an abundance of natural light.
When you’re passionate about something, it becomes all-encompassing. It’s not work, it’s not leisure, it’s part of me. If I am able to visually inspire, communicate and engage my viewer, then I know achieving something worth sharing. Food photography has been my passion so we built 2 large commercial kitchens in our Artarmon studio to accommodate the high demand for professional food photography.
As a food photographer in Sydney, Andre’s images are always sharp in their detail and composed with a perfect sense of balance. Thematically his portfolio is incredibly dynamic, and this is a testament to his experience. With work that effortlessly goes between all levels of fine dining and convenient cooking, Andre utilizes his entire image to communicate the appeal of a dish. In his photos for packaging, he will use a simple bright color to keep a vibrant feeling mixed with a total focus on the food itself. For chefs highlighting their menus or restaurants embarking on advertising campaigns, he will utilize a vast array of surfaces and colors to best match his subject. Andre’s skills are lost on no one, as he has twice been selected to exhibit at the “Australian Life” Exhibition in Sydney’s Hyde Park as well as awarded first place in the Nikon International Competition.
With such a diverse array of cuisines, businesses, and ways to promote both, a food photographer in Sydney will always have steady work. Yet, as these professionals prove, that perfect option is always available for any establishment looking to showcase its culinary art. In a city that is increasingly becoming embraced as a popular destination, the food industry of Sydney has not only a dynamic group of photographers to work with but, as anyone can see from those featured here, a number of absolute masters of their craft to call on.