2 minutes with Patricia Niven
Occupation: Food and Portrait Photographer
You're a Brisbane girl, how did you end up in London?
Since I was 12, I knew I would end up in London! So many stories from my parents who lived in London in the late 1950s & 60’s somehow burnt their way into my fate.
I studied a Bachelor of Visual Arts in Photography in Brisbane & did work placement in Sydney in between my first & second years of study. This practical environment gave me incredible clarity & helped me understand everything I’d been learning in the previous year in such a practical way. I did another year of study but at the end of the second year of the degree moved to Sydney to take up work opportunities with the studio I’d interned at (thank you Richard Peake!). This soon led to me running another studio (thank you Richard Ludbrook!) which had a lot of international people passing through… I had a UK passport thanks to both my parent’s ancestry & came to understand the freedom this allowed me to travel & find my way in the world.
What was the light bulb moment where you decided food photography was want you wanted to do?
There really is a moment! In 2012, I was coming back from a weekend in the beautiful Bunya Mountains with my parents & we popped into the Mary Ryan Bookshop in Toowoomba. I picked up (& bought!) ‘Antonio & Lucia - Recipes and stories from my Australian - Calabrian kitchen’ by Riccardo Momesso published by Plum with incredible images by John Laurie & fantastic design by Michelle Mackintosh. This book changed everything for me! I saw images that I could relate to & text I believed in & realised there might be the possibility of finding a path for me in this wonderful world of food.
Describe a typical day for you on a shoot for a cookbook?
Usually quite an early start (especially if shooting in Australia!) with some coffee & great local bakery treats. The amazing team of home economists & stylists make glorious food appear on wonderful plates & bowls & I climb up ladders & down ladders & move the camera in potentially satisfactory positions & at the end of the day we have created 8 or 10 beautiful images!
Where do you take your friends from out-of-town to eat in London?
Pretty much every time St. JOHN Restaurant. My partner Sarah & I live around the corner from the Smithfields restaurant & it is our default setting for good days, bad days, birthdays, holidays… Also, the wonderful Honey & Co. on Warren Street in Fitzrovia, The Marksman on Hackney Road, The Quality Chop House in Farringdon and Portland on Great Portland Street.
What's your tips for aspiring photographers to get noticed?
In the wise words of Grayson Perry - Be nice, put in the hours & turn up on time. And from David Bailey - Be yourself & wear comfortable shoes.
You travel a lot for your work, what is always in your suitcase?
Power adaptor plugs (ideally for the country I’m travelling to!), Bose noise cancelling headphones, barley grass powder & Mokosh moisturiser (it’s Australian & amazing!).
You can follow Patsy on Instagram @patricianiven