Image: “Carlos” at the Big Apple Inn, taken by Urwin

Award-winning travel photographer & writer Simon Urwin recently visited JXN and now finds himself on the receiving end of a prestigious honor, nominated as a Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year.

Making the short-list in the category of “World Food Programme Food for Life,” Urwin took a photo of a man named Carlos (seen here) during a visit to the Big Apple Inn.

MyCity had the chance to speak to Urwin (who considers himself “something of an honorary American” with close family in New York) from his home in London.

What brought you to Jackson, Mississippi?
I was on vacation in the U.S., driving Highway 61 from New Orleans to Memphis, and spent a couple of nights in Jackson. This was my first ever trip to Mississippi. It’s hands down one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been to in the States. 

Why the photo of the gentleman at the Big Apple Inn? What struck you about him in particular?
I loved hanging out at (Big Apple Inn) – chatting with the owner, Geno (Lee), and Lavette, one of the cooks. I talked with all the customers I met about why they love the Big Apple and what’s so good about the pigs’ ear sandwiches. Carlos was a little shy, but also happy that this British guy wanted to take a portrait of him. He just had a ‘look’ about him – a face full of a thousand stories. 

How did you get into the Pink Lady contest?
Entering photography competitions is a great way of getting exposure. The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year is probably the most prestigious food photography awards in the world with all kinds of categories that show not only the beauty of food, but the role it plays in the global economy, the environment, and in local communities.

What do you make of all the fuss about your photos?
It’s flattering and I’m also happy that, in this instance, it gives me an opportunity to spread the word about what a great place Mississippi is.

What’s next for you?
The pandemic has stopped international travel for the next six months at least, I’m sure. But here’s hoping it’s not too long before I’m on the road again – and that the Deep South features on my itinerary again. It’s a wonderful part of the world with great people and incredible food.