There is such a thing as a free lunch for Lisa Linder, who ditched her advertising job to become a jet-setting photographer in the rarefied world of travel and gastronomy. Hannah Booth asks how it’s done

Linder has several books to her name, most recently Cucina Romana, published by Conran Octopus and written by former Design Week features editor Sara Manuelli. It’s a gastronomic travel guide to Rome, and Port to Port isn’t dissimilar. Designed by Lucy Gowans, it is a travel guide-cum-recipe book-cum-restaurant/hotel guide. Linder trawled the Mediterranean for elegant shoots, stories and people, and she had a ball. Twelve days on the French and Italian Rivieras with a writer – and a free dinner almost every night – were particularly memorable. ‘We got bolder and bolder,’ Linder recalls. ‘By the end, we were like the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.’ The book was self-published: she set up LB Publishing, teaching herself the business. Port to Port was followed by the first of many commissions from Conran Octopus: a book on cigars, which she pitched to Terence Conran. Her next book will be a cookery volume from young chef, and Jamie Oliver peer at the River Café, Tom Kime. Self-publishing is ‘more time-consuming, but more rewarding’, she says. ‘But you meet the most interesting people when it’s a commission – I would never have met [Manuelli] without Conran Octopus, for example.’

She worked for a decade with one of her favourite, and most creatively open-minded, clients – fashion brand Esprit. The team has sadly de-camped to New York where, Linder notes wryly, ‘there’s no shortage of photographers’. And regular magazine work – Condé Nast Traveller, Telegraph magazine, Waitrose Food Illustrated – keeps her busy.

But right now there are other things to worry about, like the school dinners at her sons’ local state school. Linder is passionate about her work, but realistic. It’s a job, she has to earn money, and it can be mundane. She’s a working mum with no airs and graces, and it shows in her work in the best sense.

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