Food photography is a discipline easy to like but difficult to master. So many details to think about to make all those textures and details look their best. One of our favourite Kenyan food photographers is Sannie Sanford. His shots are an inspiring beautiful sensory journey that gives an excellent insight into current culinary trends while also making us fall in love all over again with classics and simple things like a fresh madafu. We have been looking forward to asking Sannie more about food photography and his own off-camera food habits, inspirations and preferences. When we finally had the chance it turned into a really fun and inspiring convo that we are so happy to share with you. Hope you are not hungry when you are reading this because then it will be a struggle! Meet Sannie Sanford!
How would you describe yourself to someone who does not know anything about you?
SS: My name is Masinde Sanford but mostly known as Sannie Sanford, I’m a self-taught food photographer, creative and a lover of all things art.
What made you choose to focus on food photography?
SS: Food has always been a huge part of who I am, and when photography became a hobby while in university the two those collided in the most perfect way to make me who I am this day.
Do you also like to cook?
SS: I try to cook daily; it depends on my day’s schedule as at times take out saves life and time. Some of my favourite take out places are Mc Fryz, Gyros2Go, Maritas Bhajias and Big Square.
What makes a good photo of food?
SS: Good plating, colours and texture for me makes a good food shot.
How is shooting food different from shooting other subjects?
SS: I think with food you must be very keen with everything from lighting, background, plating, colours and texture.
Which food photographers do you look up to and get inspired by
SS: Locally I get inspiration from J.Mwai and Tatiana Karanja. Internationally I get inspiration from Dennis Prescott and Michaela Hartwig; who have really appetizing images and I always learning something from their work. My five most favourite food accounts on Instagram would be @toertchenherzog, @j.mwai, @dennistheprescott, @linda_lomelino, @_foodstories_.
When do you feel the most excited about your work?
SS: When I am done editing and instantly get hungry just from looking at a food shot like this one. After editing this image I had to go back and have this again.
Do you have a favourite among your own photos?
SS: It’s hard to pick out one but yes I do have a favourite image. This one.
Do you have some secret top tricks to share with us that will help us take awesome food photos?
SS: Yes, for outstanding food photos natural lighting should always be your friend. Take time and style the setup to your liking before shooting. If you don’t like the image simply delete it and eat the food before it gets cold and look forward to next time.
Who inspires you?
SS: The mama mboga and market vendors inspire me a lot. It’s always interesting to walk around the market and watch them handle food.
Other sources of inspiration?
SS: I get inspiration from food accounts on Instagram, food magazines, travel and lifestyle magazines, food blogs, food shows as well as great conversations I have with people probably over a meal. For food magazine my go to are Bon Appetit and Food and Wine magazine. Wherever magazine, Boat magazine and not forgetting our very own Nomad magazine always do it for me. Food blogs that I am always checking are: wemenshouldcook.com and www.kaluhiskitchen.com. My favourite food show is Chef’s table.
What are you passionate about?
SS: Food, photography, music, basketball
How would you describe the food culture and restaurant scene in Nairobi?
SS: The food culture in Nairobi is vibrant and extensively growing fast with the increase of restaurants in Nairobi that accommodate all sorts of cuisines around the world. I particularly like Ankole, Park inn and Picazzo. They have generous portions and great constant taste every time I go back, plus great service.
How would you spend a perfect weekend in Nairobi?
SS: Two words: Eating and sleeping. Ha!
If you would choose one flavor that you think represents Kenya the best, which flavour would it be?
SS: That must be sweet, hands down. Mango ice cream.
If I was coming to your home for dinner and you would want to make something either typically Kenyan or the plates that you find most pleasurable to prepare – what would you make?
SS: I have so many options but my go to has to be Pilau.
Do you have a favorite type of food to shoot?
SS: Yes. Grilled chicken any day.
What kind of food is most difficult to make look really good in a photo?
SS: This must be Lasagne.
What is the current trend on the Nairobi food scene?
SS: Wow! I would say burgers are the current trend although they have been for a while and will continue to be so I will say Sunday brunches are the evolving trend.
What is your best general advice?
SS: Never be afraid to progress, it is the only way one gets to experience new opportunities and a better life.
The two questions I ask every person: why do you love doing what you do? And what do you wish that people in the world knew about Kenya?
SS: Why I love doing what I do… One word, calming; it literally feeds my soul and of course my stomach. I wish more people knew that Kenya is a beautiful country and more than just wildlife and athletics. Our art scene is vibrant and diverse.
Thank you so much Sannie for sharing your beautiful shots and creativity. Keep giving us inspiration, hunger and wanderlust!! : )