Caroline Kenyon, Founder of the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, discusses the unifying power of food photography in troubled times.

Food is full of contradictions. Of course, we need it to survive, but it can also hold greater meaning whether it be political, religious, aspirational or symbolic. It offers a portal into the rituals, celebrations and struggles of others. Food tells stories about the way we live.

From the communal and the spiritual to the political and the commercial, it’s all here at the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2019. For Caroline Kenyon, Founder of the Awards, it is the unifying power of food that is most important. "We all know we are living in a fractious, angry world at the moment, when public discourse is aggressive and divisive, seeking to set groups of people against each other," says Kenyon. "These awards set their face against that divisiveness and this year, we have shown that to a degree that makes me so proud.”

'Cauldron Noodles' by Jianhui Liao, Winner of the Food for Celebration Category

The idea to create the awards first came to Kenyon some eight years ago in the middle of the night, though it was a culmination of experiences which led to that point: “It was the coming together of years of a love for photography, editing a travel magazine, photographer’s portfolio, running a PR agency specialising in food, commissioning food photographers and my son, then aged 12, becoming passionate about photography.” She was particularly inspired by a visit to Wildlife Photographer of the Year, which presented a model of how such an exhibition might work, “in terms of scale, range and subject matter.”

'Always Have A Camera In My Hands' by Lily-Mae Franklin, Winner of the Young 15-17-year-olds Category

Kenyon ascertains that diversity amongst the judges is crucial to achieving such a balance. “I always look for a real range of experience, from top chefs who produce their own cookery books to creative directors, food retailers, people who are embroiled with food and photography on a daily basis.” This year’s panel, chaired by food photographer David Loftus, includes Claire Hyman, British Photography – The Hyman Collection, culinary superstar Alice Waters, Lucy Pike, Head of Pictures at WeTransfer, His Excellency Ali Bin Thalith and Secretary General, HIPA.

'Bonda Tribe' by Sanghamitra Sarkar (India), Winner of the Food for the Family Category

With over 9,000 images entered from 77 countries, the judges had a huge pool of talent to choose from and the result is a truly multicultural show. Walking through the gallery one can take a trip across the world, stumbling upon a lunar celebration in China, a Bangladeshi woman collecting water or a tribal family in India preparing food in a clay pot. "Wherever we live, whoever we are, rich or poor, urban or rural, powerful or powerless," says Kenyon, "we are united by food, by the need to eat, by food as community, as celebration. These pictures show that as an inescapable, powerful truth – ultimately, we are all the same."

'Harvesting Gold' by Kazi Mushfiq, Winner of Bring Home the Harvest Category

Find out more about the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year here