How does a commission start off for you?
"The first contact is usually via email or Instagram. We discuss the client's needs, and I give them an idea of my rates. We always talk about the wider aims of the business, as I have to understand marketing strategy and brand identity. Usually clients allow me creative control – very rarely will they interfere. I then plan the final image, drawing a sketch or doodle of what I want to create.
"Once I receive the product, I familiarise myself with the ingredients or how it's used. I then check for previous photos of the same or a similar product. While the end result must be unique, I allow myself to be inspired by what's out there. If the product is a food, I research recipes. Usually, food photographers don't make the food themselves: stylists design the set and a cook prepares the dish. But there are not many specialists in those fields in Algeria, so the photographer does everything. I avoid overcomplicated recipes, to prevent wasting too much time.
"The day before the shoot, I buy the ingredients and select props and accessories. The final step is choosing the background colour. I always use backgrounds which emphasise the central element: contrasting colours, for example, to attract the eye and accentuate finer detail. I photograph each element separately to see how they appear on camera and if they complement one another. These photos provide my baseline, they suggest the results I can expect. I can then make adjustments, removing objects or altering the background as necessary."