Waitrose Food Illustrated

In recent years, consumer interest in food has rocketed. With hundreds of food blogs, a wide range of food magazines and television shows, the connection between food and art has become much stronger. Food photography is not just for advertising anymore. 

In the March 2009 issue of Waitrose Food Illustrated, a number of features examine the relationship between art and food. Photography and style director, Tabitha Hawkins celebrated the relationship between food and art by commissioning photographers to produce images in the style of paintings in a 10-page feature and cover story. One image by Jonathan Gregson shows a late 18th century still life, taking direct influence from Chardin.

Jonathan Gregson, in Waitrose Food Illustrated, 2009
More recently, Waitrose Kitchen produced a beautiful food photo story, photographed by Gus Filgate. Tabitha Hawkins pushed for the idea to be used in the magazine, as the images are dark – unlike the usual style of the other photographs. The beautiful images could be framed and mounted for exhibition in a gallery.
Gus Filgate, in Waitrose Kitchen, 2011
Images from the March 2009 issue, along with 16 other Waitrose Food Illustrated photographs from previous years, were exhibited in the Waitrose Food Illustrated’s ‘Food and Art’ Exhibition, which ran for 2 months in the Café and Trafalgar Room at the National Gallery. The exhibition celebrated 10 years of the magazine and tied in with the launch of The National Cookbook, compiled of recipes from the National Dining Rooms. This event highlights the significant connection between the commercial and art world, something that hadn’t linked together before in food photography. Food photography’s purpose here is not only for commercial means but also celebrated as an art form.

Photographing Food as Art – Cooking with the Seasons by Fred Maroon

While little has been written on the subject of food photography, a significant documentary was produced in 2006 by the Audio Visual Artists’ Productions, titled Photographing Food as Art. Inside the studio kitchen of Fred Maroon, the chef/photographer team worked on Jean-Louis Palladin’s book Cooking with the Seasons, published in 1989.

This interesting 55-minute film shows how chef and photographer work together and their techniques for creating each photograph. Viewed in retrospect, the film was produced in 2006, but was filmed around 20 years earlier so photographer Fred Maroon shots on 35mm transparency ‘Ektachrome 64’ film, using two rolls of film per food setting. A small aperture captures all the detail of the food compensated by six Diana strobe lights for most shots. The sets are not propped; no utensils, wine, or props in background; the images are only food on reflective acrylic tabletops. Varied lighting and arranged garnishes create interesting compositions for each dish, making images resemble pieces of artwork.

Fred Maroon, Cooking with the seasons, 1989

The image above shows symmetry, patterns and rich colour, sharing principles of modernist art pieces. This film shows the first chef/photographer partnership, at least 20 years before its popularity. Interestingly this collaboration is very different to working with a food stylist. Then, most food for photography wasn’t suitable for consumption but in this documentary Fred Maroon eats the food directly off the set. It is in this film that food photography as a genre is taken seriously because each food photograph was considered not only to accompany each recipe but also for its aesthetic quality which was crucial for the book. The book wasn’t rushed either, the team worked for three years ensuring the images were perfect. Not just a cookbook; it’s a beautiful art book as well. (Slade, R. 2006, DVD)


Jason Hindley and Knorr Stock Pots


A while ago I spotted this Knorr Stock Pot ad shot by photographer Jason Hindley,in the style of a 1970’s cookbook. I think this is a fairly accurate interpretation of some of the images of the time. Here’s a link to the original blogpost on Jason Hindley’s blog

The image reminded me of a blog I’ve been following; ‘The Way We Ate‘. The blog is written by Noah Fecks and Paul Wagtouicz, two photographers from New York, who each week re-create and photograph recipes from their collection of old Gourmet magazines. The blog mixes their own photographs with old covers and advertisements from the magazine like the image here.

It’s great to see how contemporary photographers are influenced by this1970’s style imagery.