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Behind the scenes with @anna_janecka

Welcome to my Behind the Scenes. A blog about behind the scenes knowledge, with different photographers around the world. We are all connected by our passion for food and photography. This weeks guest: Anna from @anna_janecka.

Can you introduce yourself? How did you start and how did you learn?

Hi, my name is Anna Janecka, I’m a commercial food and product photographer based  in London. I have been fond of taking photos ever since I remember so I can say that capturing precious moments has always been my passion. 

Photography was always present in my life, however my food photography journey began in September 2019. In March 2021, when lock down started, I spent all of my free time on practising, self-improvement and trying new things. That time was my most intensive learning time. I remember days when I was shooting 8-10 hours a day or trying to capture a perfect drink splash for 2h. Everything what I know, I’ve learnt from the books, You Tube, lots of attempts and making mistakes.

In October 2021 I was made redundant and I decided to become self-employed and focus 100% on food photography. Fun fact – Covid-19 and lock down helped me to learn a new profession. I am still learning, trying new techniques and compositions, but this is a great thing I guess.

Do you have tips for online courses?

As a beginner with a very limited budget I was attending numerous free webinars, live sessions on Instagram and subscribed to lots of newsletters from many photographers. I discovered that YouTube full of free and amazing lessons, I won’t be original by saying that my favourite YouTube teacher was and still is Joanie Simmons. 

However, I never spent money on any professional courses. I’ve learnt everything by making lots of mistakes, reading food photography books and watching free videos, only because I had time for that. 

Nevertheless I’ve heard positive feedback about Eva’s Kosmas Flores course, Artificial Light Academy by Joanie and  Food courses by Rachel from @twolovestuido.

Where do you get your inspiration from or any specific photographers?

I look for inspiration everywhere. Food magazines, cookbooks, on Pinterest, sometimes ideas just come to my mind and I have to write them down immediately, sometimes I dream about ideas, is that weird? I often combine ideas from few different unrelated photos such a colour scheme from one photo and a composition from another and blend them together in my own way. Inspiration is everywhere, we just have to look around a bit more. 

My absolute top inspiration is Bea Lubas. I love everything about her style, colours, simple and elegant compositions and always strong message. I had a chance to chat with Bea in a very beginning of my food photography journey and she helped me a lot, motivated me and showed me the right direction. 

However the list of my favourite photographers is longer 🙂 Rachel Korinek for her simple but catchy style, beautiful and crisp photos. Because I feel more comfortable with dark and moody photos I adore Haniyeh Nikoo’s  work, Rakhee Yadav’s or Melissa Ifemwe’s. For romantic vibes and beautiful busy scenes (witch I’m struggling with) I admire Viola Virtamo , Linda Lomelino, Kristina and Eva Kosmas Flores.

There is a huge possibility I missed someone 🙂

Do you work with brands?

Yes I do work with brands. I have a few regular clients, but also plenty of one-off projects. I also worked with local restaurants or did product sessions for small local companies.  In the beginning of my journey with food photography I had a lot of projects paid with products, however, I do not practice that any more (occasionally when the products are good quality and shooting is on my terms). 

Do you have good tips about your portfolio? What do you think should be in it?

Website was one of the 1st on my list I invested in. I knew it that I need it, it looks professional and I can present my work easily there. I have a selection of my favourites photos highlighted on my homepage to encourage potential clients to view more of my portfolio.

How much time do you spend on social media and which channels do you use the most? 

To be honest I spend too much time on social media! I mainly use Instagram but also post on Facebook occasionally. 

Do you have 1 good tip for Instagram and 1 good tip for Pinterest?

When you are a beginner participating in challenges and collaborations on Instagram is very important. 1st of all you learn, you can see other people’s work on the same subject. 2nd you can  meet a lot of people, build connections and friendships 3rd of all you can connect with brands and look for them. I also realised that being patient and consistent helps a lot. It’s not easy to find you style. We all start trying all the methods, compositions and techniques, it takes time to find what we love to shoot the most.

About Pinterest I can’t really speak, I am so bad at it. I use it more for inspiration. I was uploading photos, but I have to say, it was some time ago… From the user’s perspective I would say photos should be eye catching.  

Who are your clients and how do they find you?

Most of my clients are brands. I only had a few restaurant shoots. Clients are mostly finding me via Instagram or in response to my email.

How do you make sure you find a balance between leisure/home and work?

I have to admit I have a problem with this. Together with my partner we work from home and we are both freelancers. We don’t have kids, only a cat 😛 so I don’t have that many commitments. Sometimes I work until 2am and sometimes only till 2pm, there is no rule. I promise myself to change this and work 8-10h a day and do not work on weekends, but I can’t stick to my guns.

What lessons did you learn along the way?

Definitely patience, but I also embraced and discovered my creativity. I watched a very interesting video on YouTube, that creativity it is something what we can learn and I have to be honest I see the progress regarding my creativity, but it took time.

Do you have any new plans for the coming year?

These days is hard to plan anything, last year showed us that all the plans can disappear in a day or two and we can’t control it. However, my plan is to be more than a full time photographer. I have some more plans associated with photography, but will wait with announcement. 

Where do you make your photos, at home or in a studio?

My studio is at home, so I shoot in both 🙂 When I shoot outside, I shoot in my backyard. 

How do you prepare a food styling set?

It depends of the photo. Sometimes I plan everything a day or two ahead. Creating sketches looking for the inspiration, compositing plates, cutlery and linens. But I also shoot without any plan, I’m just simply improvising.

What tools in a photography setting can’t be missed?

If we shoot bright photos, we can’t forget about the light reflector, the same with dark we should have some black boards, to create more dramatic scene. Lately I also discovered how useful tethering is . I practice 2 ways, when I shoot overhead I tether to Lightroom, however when I shoot 45 angle I like to work with my iPad.

With which light do you work  (daylight/artificial) ?

Since I moved to the new place I work mostly with artificial light. I don’t have easy access to the natural light. I have to clean half of the kitchen work area to have a nice natural light. Moreover, working with an artificial light is so easy and available 24/7 😉 I have a speed light for motion shoots and Godox 60w for the rest. 

Tips and tricks?

The most important tip – be patient, be stubborn and never give up! Experiment, read books or blogs, learn and explore. We all were a beginners and we are all still learning. No one was born with all the skills and knowledge. 

My favourite trick is to use Vaseline to get a matt effect on the cutlery. 

Website and Instagram link

Anna’s website: www.annajanecka.com 

Instagram link: @anna_janecka

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