The Fledgling Food Photographer


Margaret Barker and Ian Poole; © Ian Poole, Brisbane 1970.

As a naive and callow young photographer, it was amazing the confidence I exuded when confronted by a task that was well beyond me!

Working for the now defunct Queensland Butter Marketing Board as a Marketing and Promotions Officer, I was able to convince my manager that a set of recipe cards would sell vast amounts of butter.

Having the resources of a test kitchen with highly qualified home economists readily available, all it needed was the services of a highly skilled photographer – me!

With the wisdom of hind sight, I was probably the weakest link.

The ladies from the test kitchen had qualifications ranging from the Le Cordon Bleu School in London through to vast practical experience in the food industry.


Ready for the Camera; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 1970.

…. and I had book learning from photography magazines.

I had access to a Century Graphic camera with a roll film back.  Whilst the camera was constructed for a 6x9cm (2 1/4×3 1/4″) cut film holder, it was more commonly used with a 6x9cm roll film magazine.  The Century was a small brother of the classic 5×4″ Speed Graphic.  These robust, utilitarian beasts were the stock in trade of press photographers throughout the 1930s and 40s.  The New York photographer Arthur “Weegee” Fellig was an iconic user of the camera.  With a grave disregard to workplace, health and safety regulations, I set out to document three sets of recipe cards each containing 25 recipes.  A vast undertaking.


The Butter Marketing Board Demonstration Kitchen; © Ian Poole, Brisbane 1970.


“Flip” Morgan, QBB Economist; © Ian Poole, 1970, Brisbane

In a time before I had discovered Polaroid and using colour transparency film extensively for the first time, there was a bit of learning curve getting exposures correct.

The crudeness of the lighting causes me some embarrassment today, but I had enough knowledge to be using Kodak Ektachrome Type B, Tungsten film under these harsh lights.  Book learning can be a wonderful thing.

This exercise certainly fostered my interest in commercial photography, but my usual photographic assignments were of a more mundane nature.  Promotion shots at demonstrations, portraits for publicity and pack shots of product.  All the usual requests of a commercial shooter.


Boonah Dairy Week; © Ian Poole, 1970.

4 thoughts on “The Fledgling Food Photographer

  1. Boonah Dairy Week must have been big – they even had an organ recital by Sel. Pfeffer who owned an eponomously named, statewide furniture & electrical store chain. I believe he still lives in Boonah operating Boonah Stamp Supplies.


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