Anyone who has spent any amount of time in a studio shooting pictures of food understands how much labour gets poured into getting the shot. Not just hours, sometimes days and even weeks can be spent fine tuning an idea. So my hat goes off in admiration to those giants of the seventies and early eighties who discovered and wrestled with colour film, chunks of cheese and hunks of bread.
nowadays it seems everyone with a phone is capable of putting the world to shame with a snap of their lunch. Truthfully, I must admit I have seen some consistently great work with an iPhone. A hit and miss approach pays off every once in a while, but to hit on a regular basis takes a degree of devotion and talent. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the work of someone like Andrea at cooking with a wallflower then get out your phone and try to do that with your meal every day.
Food presents so many challenges. How locked into the history of food and images do you see yourself. Food is delicious and often satisfying beyond few other experiences, so where is it hidden in visual language? Stylists and photographers will often say presentation is everything. But is it. How do you present something you stumble upon that unlocks something powerfully felt from deep in your sensorium?
People who make and create food understand this intimately and the depth of expression goes as deep as their understanding of the world that provides the ingredients. That’s what makes food such a powerful marker and true underpinning of culture along with language and music.
For many people, culture is seen as something you visit. Something you pay to see and touch. Often not alive it’s how it comes down to us. No longer as instructions and code but as images and buildings that are seen as valuable. Perhaps this is why many parts have strong feelings about stealing or worshiping images and idols. How do we place ourselves in that continuum of representation and understanding. How do we convey and leave a record or expression of the wonder of this life? Do we dedicate a ritual to access or understand the images we see. Do we appreciate or understand the depth of experience we must plunge into to bring these images back.
I’m not sure myself. But working on these quick studies, they are the questions I ask myself. I marvel at how the food is landscape and light. Rich and varied, nourishing in so many unfathomable ways. It’s why so much of humankind offers a heartfelt thanks and ask that the food in their presence is blessed. That having been removed from its source it will continue to nourish and transform.
Nope, food is not a simple thing.
Many thanks to Jonathan at Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse for making this post possible. His generous and thoughtful understanding and inspiration set the stage for the wonderful opening act of this new year.