Sue Atkinson is a master of her craft, specialising in food photography.
She has been the go-to photographer for advertising agencies and design groups and her list of clients is long, Coca Cola, McDonald’s, McCain’s, Marks and Spencer, Tetley’s Tea, Warburtons, Blue Dragon and Krispy Kreme. Sue is a practising professional at the top end of her field with qualifications from Royal College of Art where she attained an MA in 1988 and PhD in 1995 in the History of Advertising Photography in Britain.

In the early 1980’s, Sue took up a full-time teaching post for 2 years at the Metropolitan University of South Wales, Swansea. She left teaching to focus on both her professional photography and her part-time research studies. In her early career she mainly worked on 5×4 film and Polaroid using Sinar cameras – sometimes up to 10×8 – and began to take on more varied projects. At this time, M&S commissioned their own photographers so she worked directly for them.

In 1996, Sue moved into her present studio in Grafton Mews and began taking on more high-profile clients and projects from editorial through to advertising. She is currently represented by Jo Clark.

“Photography helps me define how I feel about the world and the things that really interest me. I am most inspired by natural, organic form and the way light plays on the small simple things of daily life that are so easily overlooked. Photography is my means of acknowledging them so I can draw others’ attention to them.”

Each day will take place at Sue’s Studio
ARC Studios
18 Grafton Mews,
Fitzrovia, London W1T 5JG

Day 1.   10am – 5pm 

Morning: This Masterclass will begin with Sue’s journey through her working practice. She will show you around her studio, introduce her work, discuss styling and props, how she started out and worked from a small budget.
Afternoon: Sue will set up an editorial brief. She will introduce you to the intricacies of a food photography shoot working from the brief right through to editing the hero shot and why.

Day 2.   10am – 5pm 

Morning: Sue will instruct the students to shoot to a specific packaging brief from a Design Group working to their layouts. Taking over the roles of photographer, assistants, digital operator, and stylist, you will learn how to build your composition around a text overlay. You will learn a specific lighting set up and style to achieve the desired result.
Afternoon: Similar to the morning, students will learn to shoot a Close Up Advertising job to understand the complexities and perfectionism required to achieve a hero image.

*Both morning and evening sessions will include interpretating briefs and costing, props, metering, lights, reflectors and what each of the roles entail on a professional shoot.

Day 3.  10am – 5pm Studio & Day out

Morning: Researching a brief that will be given and supervised by Sue. Then, accompanied by Sue, you will have a guided tour of Sue’s chosen prop house, and a chance to rent props for the personal shoot.
Afternoon: Each student will photograph their own personal shoot supervised by Sue, while the other students act in other roles such as assistant and digital operator.

Day 4.  10am – 5pm

Morning: Continued personal shoot under the guidance of Sue
Afternoon: Editing Hero shot and group critique with Sue.

Please note, these are working artists studios, not purpose-built and Sue’s studio is on the first floor accessed by stairs.

* Prop rental and ingredients is not included in the cost of the course.

Level: Advanced

Duration: 4 days

Places: 6

Requirements: A digital camera with manual exposed mode. Laptop with an editing software like Lightroom or Capture One.

Skills Acquired:

The topics we will be concentrating over the four days are:

  • Creative
  • Development
  • Improvising
  • Finding your own style
  • Working on a budget
  • Community