In his trademark tortoiseshell glasses and 1970s black leather jacket, Jean Cazals is usually found shooting in his studio, perfecting the lighting of a shot for a cookbook or dashing around his beloved London, off to meet a publisher or shoot on location.
Born in Paris and raised in Geneva, Jean has lived and worked in London for the past 30 years. He has photographed over 80 books and most recently exhibited at the Cahors Food Festival in France.
Jean’s latest exhibition is called EAT ME! featuring photographs of chocolate and macaroons—a collection of images capturing his subjects in a series of unusual compositions, on display in London’s The French Art Studio, until 7 January 2014. One image features a macaroon sitting atop antlers while another focuses on chocolate sliding along the edge of a blade. Delighted with the launch of his exhibition and the opportunity to display his work at The French Studio, Jean says: “The idea was to write a visual tale for the macaroon or chocolate, to see it in a different way, create a composition that celebrates it, not only as a luxurious food item, but as an objet d’art.”
Gallery founder and owner Caroline le Luel says: “We are thrilled to welcome the solo exhibition EAT ME! by French photographer Jean Cazals—a widely acclaimed food photographer. It is Jean’s eye for colour and composition that make him a true artist and we are proud to launch his work into the London art world.”
Le Luel created The French Art Studio in 2007 as a virtual gallery. In 2012, the studio opened in South Kensington with the intention of bringing the work of esteemed French artists to a London audience. The gallery prides itself on providing a friendly and accessible atmosphere in which art aficionados and novices alike can appreciate artists with strong international potential.
Studying Visual Communications at the London College of Printing, now known as the London College of Communication, Jean spent a decade shooting portraiture for editorial and advertising clients before immersing himself in food photography. He has worked on successful cookbooks, including Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets; Momo Mazouz’s The MoMo Cookbook and Indulge, with Claire Clark, the pastry chef at The French Laundry.
Jean lives with his partner and daughter in west London’s hip Notting Hill. “What do I love about London?” Jean says: “It’s a mix bag of everything; culture, food, style. I’ve been travelling a lot, but I’m always happy to be back in my Notting Hill house. When we’re at home, my wife is a great cook.” He continues: “But when I’m out, I love Japanese food. Roka is my favourite Japanese restaurant, with which a book project would be a dream! Their presentation is very inspiring.”
Describing his work as “graphic, artistic and always with a sense of style and humour,” Jean has worked with many of the world’s great chefs. “I’ve worked with René Redzepi at his restaurant, Noma. Thomas Keller was the most memorable chef to work with, simply because of his discipline.” Other memorable chefs Jean has worked with include Pascal Aussignac [Club Gascon, London] “for his creativity and charm; Peter Gordon [the ‘Godfather of fusion cuisine’] for his intuitive sense of mixing flavours and Phil Howard for his sense of perfection—plus he’s also a great guy to ski with!” Jean continues: “I enjoyed working with Anthony Bourdain for him just being himself and Alain Ducasse for having created his empire.”
Believe it or not, there are some chefs out there who Jean hasn’t yet worked with. One in particular is Brett Graham. “I find Brett at The Ledbury very inspiring at the moment,” he says.
From exhibitions to working on new books, Jean is a photographer in demand. Last year saw him win the UK national category at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris for his latest book, TeaTime, A Taste of London’s best Afternoon Teas, published in the spring of 2012. The book takes the reader on a journey through London’s unique, iconic and utterly brilliant afternoon tea hotspots, with Jean capturing each destination through his lens.
TeaTime, A Taste of London’s best Afternoon Teas covers 50 destinations across London, including The Ritz, The Savoy, Primrose Bakery and The Berkeley, but it was Sketch that stood out the most for Jean, with its combination of quirkiness, colourful décor, unique style and excellent service setting it apart. “I love the look of cakes, the tea sets and this unique British experience of enjoying afternoon tea,” says Jean.
EAT ME! runs until 7 January 2014. www.thefrenchartstudio.com.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEAN CAZALS