Meet Brent Parker Jones, Melbourne based Food Photographer. His images have graced the pages our favourite foodie magazines and featured in cookbooks for national and international publishers. His obsession with “all things food” secured him a place on Masterchef 2009. This is his entrepreneurial story.
What made you decide to start a business as a food photographer?
I wanted to be a chef when I was in high school but fell in love with photography. After graduating from RMIT, I searched for work as a photographer in and around the food industry.
What do you love most about being a food photographer?
I love sharing food, physically and visually. Food has a language of its own that everyone speaks. It’s never boring shooting food. Every day it’s a different challenge, or you learn something new. Food, like photography, is part art, part science and that suits me. Food photography is not just a job or a career, it’s just the way I live my life. I have quoted this before, “the chicken who laid the egg for the burger was interested – but the pig was truly committed to it”. I would do this job for fun if I could afford to.
How has the rise of social media and the popularity of food images within social media influenced your business?
I am not totally in love with food bloggers or the self-made celebratory aspect of the social media food world. The other day I saw a food photography course for few hundred dollars, being taken by someone with five minutes’ experience. My senior lecturers and others would also roll their eyes. But I see the value, and I have joined the social media world now to share my folio and the shoots I work on. It’s a great way to share something I am passionate about and I love, with others that feel the same way. On another positive, food brands, products and food manufacturers who appreciate quality imagery are embracing this new media outlet.
How did you become involved with Masterchef?
I answered a late-night television commercial asking me if I liked to cook, and would I do that on camera, I said “hell yes!” and I took it way too seriously. I had a lot of fun, but still, a bit cut as I left when things were just starting to work out in the kitchen for me. It’s an unscripted reality television show, what are you going to do but enjoy the time. I would not change that for the world, it was a ton of fun.
What are your top tips for starting a business?
It used to be a business card, pager and a fax when I started freelancing. Now all you need is 45,000 followers on Instagram, #Joke. No seriously, it’s still a business card. The tactile feel of meeting someone face to face, shaking a hand and saying call me when you’re ready, works for me.
Website portfolio – that’s a given, but specializing is the real truth. I don’t want to confuse prospective clients about what it is I do and what my passion is. I can also shoot everything, RMIT taught me that. But my world is food. I can tell you by reading a recipe if it will work or not. But ask me who designed that building or that chair on an interior shoot that’s not my thing. Ask me about how to cook something, or where to get (in my book) the best fish and chips, pizza, or goat ragu – then we can start a conversation.