A day in the life of a food stylist: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Meet the latest addition to the BOSS Creative team, Ryan Fitzpatrick! Find out what he gets up to on a normal day and why his kitchen at home is ‘a bit mad.’

When I wake up… I do a lot of my prep work the night before so in the morning I just have to double check that I’ve got all the right gear that I need for a job. I’ve got so much stuff and I can’t carry everything so I have to pack a kit that’s right for whatever I’m doing. My breakfast is always on the go. I get in the car, throw a coffee down and go for it!

My average day… There is no average day, every day is completely different so some days I spend a lot of time tweaking a shot for one product and some days it’s really full on with a lot happening and a lot of shots to get. I drive straight to a shoot in the morning with my car full of anything I might need. I chat to the client and the photographer before getting to work. If it’s a photographer I’ve worked with before I might know them quite well anyway so we have a good rapport. We’ll have a quick catch up and then get straight on to it.

What I love about my job… It’s very different to the cheffing world that I came from. Everything there was really fast paced and high pressure and what annoyed me about that job is that because it was so busy you couldn’t manage perfection every time. You could get about 80 – 90% – which is good enough for the restaurant world – but you couldn’t get it looking absolutely perfect and that’s what I enjoy about food styling. I can slow down and take my time, do one dish at a time and get it 100% right. It took some adjusting but I’ve transitioned well now.

How I got where I am… I started cheffing when I left school at 16 and I went to catering college to do my initial foundation NVQ. I learnt how to do the basic things like prep meat or fish dishes and the basic sauces and learned to run a kitchen. I also learnt about Front of House and we had to learn how to silver serve – it was really traditional. We also had to learn about book keeping and how to manage a restaurant entirely. Shortly after that I got a job as a Sous Chef, which is like a second chef, in a busy bistro pub. The chefs were great and the food was really good, I learned a lot there. I’ve travelled around a lot and I felt like once I’d learned everything from the chefs I was working with then I wanted to move on again and gain new experiences. I was head chef at about 21 when my friend opened a restaurant in Hebden Bridge. He asked me to go down and start it up from nothing. I did that for a couple of years and got the place really busy – it’s still busy now!

I did some further study to do with restaurant work and then when I was 24 I decided to go to university and study photography and I graduated last year. I was still working as a chef throughout and in a gap between my second and third year I started helping out in studios and assisting on shoots. That’s when I first really came across the role of a food stylist. I didn’t really know that job existed and then I just fell in love with it and wanted to do it ever since!

Advice I would give to someone who wants to break into the industry… There are a few food styling courses you can go on but I think it depends on your background. If you have a strong background in food and you could make the transition. I think the best thing to do would just be to keep testing, contact photographers, amateur photographers and test, test, test. Get as much work as you can – it’s worth it for your portfolio, it really is.

When I get home… I cook continually. My girlfriend can’t cook so I cook all the time. In fact this morning I’ve just prepped some belly pork, I’m drying the skin out so hopefully it’s going to be beautiful this evening. I’m a bit of a workaholic and spend a lot of my spare time making backgrounds and props and thinking about test shoots when I can fit them in between jobs. Propping is a massive thing: It can really elevate a shot. I photograph backgrounds and food and see how the colours look together. Then, I’ll do it with a photographer who has more experience in terms of lighting.

I get inspiration from… Instagram! I follow a lot of foodies. My Instagram feed is just full of food and I follow big photographers and other food stylists. I’ll find a shot and then I’ll think right ‘I want to do something like that,’ or I think ‘I could do that better,’ and I want to have a bash at it. David Loftus is a great account to follow. He’s a big food photographer in London who has been with Jamie Oliver since the beginning. Jamie Oliver is one of my big inspirations for wanting to be a chef; I’ve followed him for a long time.

In my downtime… I don’t get a lot of time to watch TV but I’m a big Walking Dead fan. I also love Game of Thrones, so I’m excited that that’s coming back soon. My kitchen at home is a bit mad! There’s food and paint everywhere, with a different shade in every pot which drives my girlfriend crazy. I’m planning a Mexican test soon so I’ve just made this kind of light blue background and I’ve ordered some handmade Mexican tiles. I’ll put a Spotify playlist on when I’m cooking but I mostly just like to get my head down and create something great!

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