A new scandal is rocking the foodie scene this week.  And thankfully, it’s not as heavy as that whole Bon Appetit thing.

On September 3rd, LRB Bookshop (which stands for London Review Bookshop Bookshop) published a tweet thread revealing some very shocking and totally real insider information regarding the nature of food photography.

(For the sake of avoiding the whole “shrimp vs prawn” debacle, which is compounded even further by the fact that they’re British, I’m just going to keep saying “prawn.”)

According to LBR, who heard it from a good friend, prawns have a slight bioluminescence, which makes them impossible to photograph.  Luckily, “a company” has succeeded in the costly endeavor of breeding 6 genetically engineered prawns that no longer have this problem.  And so, every photoshoot for every recipe since then has used the same 6 prawns, shipped back and forth from studio to studio all across the world.

While they haven’t tweeted anything at all in the 4 days since writing that, they also haven’t backed down or deleted the original thread.  

Many were quick to ridicule the outlandish statement, including those who uploaded their own pictures of prawns that they were able to shoot just fine.  But I, for one, applaud LRB Bookshop for their efforts.

Not for the actual merits of what they said, of course.  It’s total bullshit.  

But what they succeeded in doing is masterfully crafting a red herring. 

There never were any prawns.

Folks, it’s 2020.  What seems more likely: escorting the same 6 genetically modified to immaculation, apparently never spoiling prawns from photoshoot to photoshoot, OR- just photoshopping them in.

It’s no industry secret that food photography is full of deceit.  Does it really seem below publishers to just hang on to a transparent .png and an intern who knows how to add drop shadows?

Well guess what, LRB, I’ve got a good friend in the industry too, and they’ve given me the real stunt prawn.

Ok, it doesn’t look very good blown up this big but you get the idea.

So go forth, aspiring food photographers! Be not afraid of the elusive prawn pics, knowing you can always fix it in post.

2 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Photogenic Prawns

  1. RJG says:


    Side remark — not necessarily snark — is that Twitter = news today. For better or worse.

    1. Riley Johnson says:

      For me it’s not so much that Twitter is the news as much as it’s where I go to see whatever the food writers are talking about this week to try and find a bandwagon to jump onto.

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