Photographers influenced by still life paintings often take certain elements of these paintings and introduce them into their own work. This is exactly what Berlin-based photographer Karsten Wegener has done….with sausages! Rather than exactly imitate the artworks with sausages in place of the true subject matter, Wegener has either connected sausages to the artwork by replicating the appearance of the objects or has experimented with a combination of different meats, the packaging or a play on the name of a dish. I recently interviewed him for Feature Shoot and you can see the article here…
From eggs to popcorn to a thoroughly stuffed turkey, I think this process is a really interesting way to photograph food as it’s completely different from anything you would naturally see. I found this Ted Talk of Nathan Myhrvold talking about the process, combining food and science to create images like these.
With the launch of the book on The Photography of Modernist Cuisine showing a whole new perspective to food photography, it’s interesting to look at how other photographers are taking alternative approaches to creating images of food. Using flatbed scanners as a photographic method seems to be a keen favourite (I have experimented with this too myself) and Jon Feinstein’s series ‘Fast Food’ highlights this perfectly.
This work statement from Jon Feinstein’s website explains the project: “These photographs investigate the love/hate relationship that many Americans have with fast food, and, like many other aspects of popular culture, its ability to be simultaneously seductive and repulsive. Hamburgers, French fries, chicken nuggets and “specialty” sandwiches are scanned on stark black backgrounds, isolated from their branded context, without name recognition, nearly floating in space. Under austere, uniform lighting; stripped of branding, packaging and iconography, the food takes on a scientific, yet ethereal quality that is at times both revolting and mouthwatering.” The images make for an interesting series – the piece of fried chicken looks like a heart, while the the french fries look limp and a bit sad. The detail picked up from using the flatbed scanner, makes for quite eerie-looking images that are not necessarily appetising.
With Heston Blumenthal being awarded another Michelin star for his restaurant, it seems like there’s no better time for art, food and science. This month sees the release of ‘The Photography of Modernist Cuisine‘ by Nathan Myhrvold, the author’s 3rd book, which looks at the art and science of cooking.
Taking photographs of a meal using Instagram is a far cry from these cross-sections of the insides of pressure cookers and saucepans and macro shots of fruits and fish. What I think is great about this book is the mere size of the photographs. Each double page spread measures at 26″ x 16.3″, much bigger than any lavish cookbook or Donna Hay magazine.
The close up images remind me of Edward Quigley’s six peas in a pod or Irving Penn’s Still Lives for Vogue, where the images are art photographs with food as the subject, observing the beauty and form of each item. Like Carl Warner doing creative things with food by building landscapes, this book uses food in a different, yet exciting way; the cut away pans are something new altogether! The perspective is completely different to anything seen before, especially in food photography. Advancements in food science and technology have allowed the photographer to capture what is happening inside a boiling hot saucepan – this definitely isn’t something we’d have seen in an 18th century still life painting.