Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thinking About Food Photography- Part Two of Two

In my previous post, Thinking About Food Photography-- Part One, I wrote about how I planned to use the history of food photography as a secret weapon to encourage student participation in my History of Photography class this fall.  Today, I decided to take a few minutes to talk about my own ideas about photographing food and what I'm trying to do with the photographs in this blog.

Food photography is a lucrative business and the ways in which people photograph food for publication is constantly evolving.  Right now, trends in food photography leans towards artfully arranged half-eaten displays or close-up views with a very shallow depth of field.  I like both of these styles, but in my photographs I'm trying to do something different.  I have two distinct missions when I make photographs for this blog.  I either try to make the foods I photograph look heroic, or I want to give them a sense of place.  Sometimes I can manage to do both.  Here are a few examples.

My first batch of homemade pickles.

This photograph of a dish of pickles was taken on the day I finished making my first batch of homemade pickles using my Grandma Willie's recipe.  The glass serving dish in the photo was hers too.  She always served applesauce in it, but it was perfect for my photograph for several reasons.  Most importantly, because it was hers.  These pickles, and this photograph, are a tribute to my grandmother.  On a practical note, using a glass dish allowed me to show off a large quantity of pickles without having to shoot an overhead view.  And looking straight at an object (or looking up at it) always makes it look more heroic.  It's especially effective if you do it in 3D, but I haven't figured out how to do this for my blog yet.

Rotten pumpkin, June 14, 2010.
I want all  kinds of foods to look heroic, whether or not they're traditionally beautiful subjects.  I think this pumpkin is gorgeous, even though it's pretty gross.  You can read my blog post about our rotten pumpkin if you want to know why I loved this pumpkin so much.

And of course, I often use this technique for my homegrown fruits and vegetables.  I'm so proud of them that I just can't help making them look as  heroic as possible.  My photograph of our first Mortgage Lifter of the season is a prime example of this.
My first Mortgage Lifter, August 13, 2010.

And don't get me started on my photos of country ham.  I don't think I've created the ultimate country ham photo yet, but it isn't for lack of trying.  Here's an example from the post  Country Ham Delivery!
Our first country ham at our new house, April 6, 2010.

Every once in a while, I can manage to make the foods I love seem heroic AND give them a sense of place.  I hope this photograph of prune tarts at Anne Willan's house tells you a bit about both prune tarts and Anne Willan.  They're both fantastic.
Prune tarts with cup of ypocras in the background, Anne Willan's kitchen, June 2010.

I make photographs of foods that I love and I try to convince viewers to love them too.  Not because of their perfection (and sometimes in spite of their obvious flaws), but because these foods bring history to life.  I want these photographs to convince you to think about the foods that you eat and how you can share your own personal history through food.  I hope that you will take the time to grow and prepare foods that are unique and special to your family.  If you do, I want to see photos.