Sunday, February 15, 2015

Photography: Food

I've made a new pinterest board. It's for food porn... you know, those impossibly beautifully plated meals in the french tradition that make you think of nothing but gorging yourself. Sensual. Hypnotic. Designed to make the cravings intense enough to blow your mind. And make you jones for the thing that is out of reach. It is the fantasy meal that no average American fare dinner will ever live up to. It is the unreality that makes reality intolerable.

Why do we torture ourselves with such imagery?

I want to learn to take these kinds of photos.
I want to learn to prepare those kinds of meals.

I want to produce the kind of food & work that gets into the deepest part of your subconscious and lives there until you go mad for the desire of a piece of sculpted chocolate or a fruit tart that looks like something with which a serpent could tempt one out of Eden.

I started out with these kinds of photos. you might remember this from a trip to Grand Rapids with my old housemate. It's a good photo. But it isn't food porn. It is mere documentation, though by no means was this a mere dessert. That was the best ever chocolate pudding I have ever eaten. And I thought that some of the home made ones, from scratch not mix, were good. 

And I got a little better once I read up on how these kinds of photos are taken. MACRO lens, flattened field of vision and natural lighting make all the difference. And while this is still better than the mousse/pudding.....

You see the grain in the cake, the textures and variegation in the frosting and the depth of the shadows it still needed something. So it gets a little picmonkey treatment and voila! 

Closer to being food art photography. 

Closer. But not perfect. Perfection being slow in the making. And not all that easy to come by even with a few articles on the subject under one's belt. I don't know what it is about food. It is difficult to use props yet props are rather essential. Or so it would seem. Food also has a relatively short table life. It doesn't take long for frosting to lose it's sheen, veggies to dry out and meats to begin to shrink and lose their freshly seared pucker.

The other difficulty is that food is food. I still have a hard time seeing it as all that artsy. Of course the way that I cook it is not. But to make really great food art photos you have to be able to 
see an alternate presentation. You know, something other than what you see when you set the table. 

So that means looking at it not like food but as something else. You have to look at it from the building blocks of composition. A bowl of soup is just a circle with a pattern. So how would you present a circle in a more interesting composition than sitting smack in the middle of a plane of existence? 

Divide your circle into half. If that is not interesting enough then quarter it. Make the texture the star. Let everything else fall away but not so far that the meaning of it is lost. 

And now we are closer to getting what others call food porn. 

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