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Honesty

February 23, 2012

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I’ve been thinking about food photography this week for a project that I’m working on.

Can I be honest with you? I realized that I’m tired of most food photography lately. I’m tired of taking photos of food, and I’m really tired of looking at photos of food online (perfect meals and those perfect table settings). It all looks the same. The faux-urban-rustic aesthetic, with mason jars for glasses and twine-wrapped napkins. The perfectly placed spoonful of brown sugar on the table (in a vintage/antique spoon, please), the sugar crystals artfully scattered around the spoon. You know what I’m talking about.

I want real photos of food. Pictures that make me feel something (other than, “oooh, where can I buy this?”). I want a food photo to appeal to my creative side, or to challenge me, or make me think. I like photos of food that give me a true sense of place – pictures that are not styled and glossy, but real and down-to-earth.

The internet LOVES food. Without a doubt, my food-related photos are some of my most popular photos. Pretty photos of food can earn you a million “likes” and “reblogs” and shouts of “how lovely!”. But that’s too easy, and I’m uninterested. I want to tell a story. I want to make you feel something, to experience it with me – the way the sun felt that day we had lunch on the patio, the creeping melancholy of a breakfast alone, the happiness of a lunch of fresh oysters & white wine, the lazy conversations with friends that took place over a Sunday roast. Food is about so much more than the actual food itself.

Does this make any sense?

I think one of my favorite things about photography is the ability to grow and learn and develop your eye. I push myself to be open to new things and I am always trying to be observant and searching for new ways of seeing the world around me. I guess I’m trying to do this with food photography, too. I want to shake it up, make it feel personal and real, make it really mean something to you. I’m not 100% sure how to do this, but I’m working on it.

Food, just like life, is not always perfect. And I want my photos to reflect that fact. There is a particular type of beauty in honesty.

145 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2012 11:15 am

    I guess I never really thought about how many photos there are of food. I’ll have to start paying attention more. By the way, I love the first photo. The shadow is the star of that one.

  2. February 23, 2012 11:17 am

    Honesty on the internet is unbelievably hard to achieve. If the internet is to achieve it, it will certainly not be through tumblr.

  3. February 23, 2012 11:17 am

    Well written and I could not agree more.

  4. Rach| buttons magee permalink
    February 23, 2012 11:23 am

    I think about this all the time Brian. One of my friends told me years ago that it’s hard to consider food photos art because we cheat our mind a bit. Our brain sees the food and instantly likes the photo because it tastes good. Although I don’t think this is necessarily true in every case, it really made me stop and think about what I was photographing. Intriguing topic, that’s for sure.

  5. February 23, 2012 11:26 am

    Brian – funny i’ve been thinking a lot about that too. And how tired I am of all that. I want to say so much here, but you pretty much said everything up in your entry without sounding like a jerk. If I were to say it, I’d sound kind of like an *sshole. Anyway. Agreed. Preciousness is getting tiresome. And I’ve been thinking a lot about how to walk away from that but still photograph for the blog. If you have thoughts on the matter, would be curious to hear. And thanks for posting this. It needed to be said.

  6. February 23, 2012 11:26 am

    I completely agree. I used to look at all those food porn sites daily and then I suddenly got very tired of it. Everything looked the same and I went from drooling over pictures to quickly reading the caption and now I only specifically search for things I’d like to make. Those aggregated food photo sites demand a certain… “look” to be accepted (I hate conforming but sometimes I’m sucked in — if only for the exposure) and because of that, their pages now look monotonous not inspiring or tasteful. This and cakes that look like things and not cakes. I’m over that one, too.

    • February 23, 2012 11:39 am

      I do this exact same thing, and worry how it’s shaping what I make and shoot. The perfect square, the bright light, the soft blur–I’m just imitating. The aggregator sites all say to “be creative”, but I feel like every time I try that, rejection swiftly follows. Taking all this to heart. Thanks for holding up the mirror.

      • March 1, 2012 1:22 pm

        Kristen and Molly, I agree with both of you. I purposefully shoot my photos a certain way to get on certain sites. Whenever I go off their “formula” (slightly over exposed, no shadows, back ground blur, etc) my photos don’t get accepted. The creativity is only in the props (which has turned me into a prop whore).

        However, after awhile the same photos do get boring; like Kristen I now look for recipes that I want to make and not how they are photographed.

        Great article, it’s one that gives you pause.

  7. February 23, 2012 11:30 am

    Brian I think you are spot-on. There is something about the food photography on the internet these days that intimidates me and makes the common meal shared with common people seem “not enough”, for lack of better words. I applaud the creative that can beautiful elements together, but I am inspired by real life shared by honest storytellers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your photos.

  8. February 23, 2012 11:35 am

    I am really happy to hear you say this. I initially subscribed to your site because I could feel that passion and honesty. But then something started to feel distant and disinterested. I was contemplating unsubscribing and then this post arrived. I am so moved by your words and images. Please fumble through trying to return to that place that reignites you. It helps all of us. Thank you.

  9. February 23, 2012 11:40 am

    Echoing everyone’s comments here, but yes, there’s a need for more creative food photography. I wonder if people who have those ‘perfect’ food blogs with perfect same old same old photos actually enjoy the cooking – and eating! – part of the whole process.

  10. February 23, 2012 11:41 am

    This is mainly the reason that I stopped blogging. I like the stories behind the food more than the pictures themselves. Thats why I like Molly Wizenberg so much. She takes an interesting picture and tells a story. She doesn’t spend 15 mins “styling” her plate, then more time in photoshop to make it perfect. It’s a picture of the moment.

    Sometimes I now want to share a recipe that I’ve particularly enjoyed but don’t want to bother with the “perfect” pretty picture.

    Just wanted to say that you hit the nail on the head with this post. So thanks.

  11. February 23, 2012 11:49 am

    i’m also quite tired of the urban-rustic-industrial-revival look (food & interiors) – and i hate drinking from mason jars!

    that wooden bowl of yours, however, is still a favorite.

  12. February 23, 2012 11:54 am

    Hello! I have been following your blog for a while and today I had to comment because that is exactly how I feel. I write a food blog and I got tired of my own food photos and the “perfect props” everywhere in Internet, that is the reason why I started following your blog and I found here lots of honesty and inspiration. I am very glad to see that I’m not the only one who thinks that way. Thank you for sharing and for all the inspiration!

  13. February 23, 2012 12:08 pm

    Yes I do think you make a lot of sense, but what you want is a lot more challenging too. I can’t remember how many times I’ve felt so strongly about something or someplace but I just somehow can’t translate that into my photos, I would say too many times. But what you want is admirable, and it’s probably what I really like about your photos, that honesty :)

  14. February 23, 2012 12:12 pm

    amen yo.

  15. February 23, 2012 12:17 pm

    things always change including our eye and what appeals visually – kudos for seeking a path to photograph food (and other things I assume) that feels more honest and authentic and evocative of time and place and people. convincing editorial clients of a particular approach may be challenging but folks do it all the time. I would always much rather see an image with mood or some emotive quality to the perfectly styled version so often seen of late. I love mikkel vang and david loftus (especially their film work) particularly when they bust out of the table-top stylized tableau and catch light, food, people and places intersecting …

  16. February 23, 2012 12:21 pm

    The timing of this is funny, as I literally just this morning decided to discontinue my weekend photos for now because it was becoming such a chore and turning into a “what I ate” showcase, which I know so many other people are growing tired of online. You can get so comfortable in photo taking – knee jerk reactions to certain things you pull your camera out for that don’t even necessarily inspire you that much. I so badly need to break out of my comfort zone and routine and be inspired.

  17. sarah permalink
    February 23, 2012 12:22 pm

    What goes around comes around, and like all things I suppose food fashions, or food photography, changes. Realism is hard to achieve. Especially with food. Who wants the truth? Who wants to hear people diet? Whatever, I would be glad to see more honest photos. Isn’t it about time we all cut ourselves some slack? I challenge you, a real food diary for a week. The blue hour eats for a week?

    Aside from that, great blog.

    And well done for taking the courageous decision to leave your safe career. It will pay off, you are so talented.

  18. February 23, 2012 12:27 pm

    damn, this was a good post. thanks for being so real. well said. i really love your photos and this outlook.

  19. February 23, 2012 12:36 pm

    Wolfgang Tillmans’ food still lifes are something special — first made me think about food as the “left behinds” of experience, not a record of beauty.

    http://amaurer23.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/wolfgang-tillmans-food1.jpg
    http://leilaligougne.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/wolfgang-tillmans-2.jpg?w=720&h=490
    http://amaurer23.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/wolfgang-tillmans-food2.jpg

  20. February 23, 2012 12:37 pm

    I totally agree with you. In the past six months or so I’ve tried to strip away a lot of the extras from my food photographs – no extra props or ones I don’t use day-to-day, not removing shadows or setting up studios or backdrops, just the work surface in my kitchen with the light as it falls, method shots as they happen instead of being styled, no photoshop, often some black and white. It’s refreshing and lets the food take the the centre stage.

    I love your work. It always makes me think and re-explore my surroundings.

  21. February 23, 2012 12:39 pm

    I think it is interesting that you and I both had the experience of a major company bringing us on to bring more authenticity to their food (and beverage) photography. Whether or not we were able to achieve that, they did recognize that the realism and intimacy was something to which folks respond. Like you, I am surprised by how incredibly boring and heavy-handed a lot of the food and lifestyle photography in blogs and small publications has become. I am probably guilty of this at times too. I put a note up on my wall last year that says “simple and real wins” as a gentle reminder. I think folks working on a small scale have a tremendous opportunity to create work that sets them apart from the mainstream—overly manipulated, styled and inauthentic work does not achieve that.

    That said, I do not think all food photography has to be “real” and do enjoy new ways of looking at, arranging and photographing food. I am always excited to see something new.

  22. February 23, 2012 12:44 pm

    My favourite food photography is here:
    http://nourish-me.typepad.com/nourish_me/
    It feels real to me.

  23. February 23, 2012 12:56 pm

    I could not agree more. As a food photographer (and one who personally loves simplicity and bright stark colours – not really “in fashion” at the moment) I get tired of seeing impossible place settings that nobody but a professional event planner would create. While I do love props, it gets tiresome when the comments people make about my photos are “I love the bowl/spoon/teapot/napkin/etc”. somehow, that makes me feel like I’ve failed.

    I do think sites like Instagram/Foodgawker/Tastespotting encourage certain “looks” and because of the traffic they give, it’s hard for many bloggers to resist getting a photo accepted. Getting turned down by those sites does NOT necessarily mean you created a bad photo. It may just mean you didn’t fit their aesthetic. I wish people would embrace that a little more and forge their own paths.

  24. February 23, 2012 1:20 pm

    All:
    I’m really enjoying everyone’s thoughts on this – I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

    I’m not familiar with Foodgawker or Tastespotting, actually. It’s worth mentioning that I’m not a food blogger and so my aim with food photography is a bit different. I recognize that sometimes, food photos are meant to achieve something – to illustrate a recipe or a meal and posted alongside a recipe on a food blog.

    I’m thinking more along the lines of food as “art” or as a way of telling a story and talking about life. This is the reason I often post food photos here but I don’t feel it necessary to share the details of where I ate it or the exact ingredients in the dish. That’s not always my aim. More often, I’m trying to illustrate the moment, the scene, the place, the story.

    The Wolfgang Tillmans photos that Youngna posted above are a great example of food photography that is different and creative. And Stephanie is right – it doesn’t need to be “real” all the time… some of my favorite food photos are in Apartamento magazine – the “Bread” sculptures come to mind ( http://www.beckmans.se/newsroom/bilder/still-life-by-apartamento-magazine/ ) — those are certainly not “real” or natural – but they are artistic and thought-provoking.

    I guess my point is that I want to photograph food differently – be more creative, think outside of the box, get away from the herd.

    I’m glad this resonates with many of you!

  25. February 23, 2012 1:20 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m by no means a professional photographer, but I notice when I look back on photos I’ve taken of food, I most enjoy those that are less than perfect, that include simple, everyday food and that show evidence of someone enjoying it!

    I think there’s a larger problem in this country with people not cooking enough and assuming when they do it has to be a big, complicated affair. I’d love to see a celebration of the simple, healthy, and local. Let’s make cooking and eating at home more approachable to the masses.

    Thanks for this post, so inspiring.

  26. February 23, 2012 1:22 pm

    I love this challenge. I revisit it everyday. How do we reveal truth without losing our audience? And I don’t mean the artists in the world, but the consumers. The average person, who shies from challenges, and who indirectly pay our bills. I’ve began with simplicity. If food is the hero, make it the first, and possibly the only, thing you notice in the photo. Build from there.

  27. February 23, 2012 1:32 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! When I started blogging I thought a lot about the way I wanted to photograph my food. I still feel like I am working on it and I have found it hard for them to feel ‘real’. Honestly, my favourite ones are of a messy table, filled with half-eaten food and content looking people. And after hours of exploring sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting I realised that most of the photos represented there could all have been taken by the same person. Lots of light, lots of exposure and lots of props. Your comments on this matter are something I am going to keep in mind when shooting photos from now on. The norm is perhaps not worth chasing after all. (I can’t give up on the mason jars though, I love them.)

  28. February 23, 2012 1:59 pm

    Such a thought provoking post! For me, food photography is about the food, and I feel like the props are the star of the show for a lot of people. I saw your note in the comments about how there is a difference in a photograph with a purpose to illustrate a recipe and a photograph taken to tell a story, and I agree. I don’t submit any work to sites like food spotting because of the very concerns many have shared here- my work doesn’t fit in their box and that’s not important to me. As a blogger, it’s easy to get caught doing the same thing over and over again, and this post certainly makes me re-evaluate what I’m doing. Thanks for the perspective and bringing up a much needed discussion.

  29. February 23, 2012 2:04 pm

    I think this kind of resonates with everything. There is nothing great about posing. In the moment seems much more to me. When you force anything – it’s just not the same.

    But as with everything – when it is a job and there are clients involved, it may not be what you want, or, how you may like something to be. Sometimes you may have to take work because it is work. Although we don’t want to think that way and it would be lovely to be able to pick and choose – reality is different. Many of those people are making their living doing what they do. And I admire them for doing what they do because I can’t. I am horrible at food pictures. It’s not my thing. And crap, I have no desire to collect and gather props. Just give me a pear and I am happy.

    But I know what you mean. I just wonder if on the other side, the foodies wish they could branch out and shake things up a little more, but don’t because it’s doesn’t sell as well?

  30. February 23, 2012 2:22 pm

    So true (and this is coming from someone who photographs my food daily). I’ve felt more and more like I was doing something wrong because my food did not look “perfect”. Although I do enjoy that perfect dinner table photograph from time to time I know that my photographs will not turn out that way. I’ve had to ask myself why the hell I’m even photographing meals in the first place. I realized that I wanted to capture the love and joy of preparing food. I want to inspire myself in the future when I’m thinking about what to cook. I want to remember that meals/food is about love and nourishment. Also I want to remember that truth springs from imperfection.

  31. February 23, 2012 2:27 pm

    What you are writing makes sense to me.
    But anyway, I love to look at nice food pictures. It makes me happy.

  32. February 23, 2012 2:28 pm

    YES.
    so much food photography is overwrought and makes you maybe want to eat the thing, but doesn’t make you feel anything.
    I know you’re the one who can rise to the challenge of telling a better story.

  33. February 23, 2012 2:31 pm

    I enjoy your words, your photos, your aspirations and of course, this blog.

  34. Cécile permalink
    February 23, 2012 2:39 pm

    Your thoughts about food photography remind me a cookbook where all the plates were empty. In facts, the photographer had the idea of shooting the plates after the dish was eaten, so the reader could only see dirty plates and cutlery next to the recipes. I really loved the idea, and the frustration I had for not seeing the dish gave more desire to cook it.

  35. Sara permalink
    February 23, 2012 3:22 pm

    That was possibly the most beautiful post I’ve read all month. The most beautiful part is that the word “food” can be replaced with anything. When done with honesty and truth, everything and anything can be beautiful. Love, love, love, the wisdom, the photos, the blog – as always.

  36. David Green permalink
    February 23, 2012 3:54 pm

    Great idea, couldn’t agree more. Looking forward to seeing what you would do instead. Aside from the acute angle of sunlight through blinds. Btw as much as everyone takes the piss at Jamie Oliver’s magazine, the photos are very much on the honest side of the argument. Works especially well on matte texture paper.

  37. February 23, 2012 4:06 pm

    You make PERECT sense. It almost seems like you eavesdropped on a conversation I had with my husband just two nights ago. Thank you for this post, and your ‘honesty’- I’m a first time visitor (saw a comment on Twitter from another blogger I enjoy that referenced this post) and can already tell that you speak my language. I am new to the ‘blog world’, having started just 4 weeks ago, and was sharing with my husband how there seem to be these typical ‘styles’ I’m seeing almost everywhere now with food photography; we’re resisting the notion that we have to fit some particular mold, and we decided that we won’t. We’re finding our own way, as the blog is a joint venture for he and I. For me, it’s all about the content and the images should support and be inspired by that. Great post, and thank you. I look forward to more of your blog.

  38. sara permalink
    February 23, 2012 4:18 pm

    I want to see food in action; food smeared across the plate; food that’s felt the human action. Not that this trend of “perfect food” photography doesn’t have its beauty — it sure does, but let’s be real here. I’d love to see a collection of post-dinner table-scapes, or better yet documentary of the process our food, guests, and tableware undergo through a meal. More of an anthropological perspective — after all, food production [+ its collective consumption] is so intimately tied with the human condition.

  39. Jaycess permalink
    February 23, 2012 4:19 pm

    Great post, and great aspiration. I really admire the pretty food pictures on blogs, mags and cookbooks, but the pics I take of food I’ve made are taken with my Blackberry in my poorly-lit kitchen and frequently feature the big crack on the edge of my stove. They’re crap, but they’re mine and I’m proud of them. They’re as much my creation as whatever I’ve baked.

  40. February 23, 2012 4:24 pm

    Thank you for this post. What interests me the most in food photography, is the food. That’s what I want to see and not a thousand props surrounding it, trying to make it something that it’s not. Honesty, that’s all that matters. That doesn’t necessarily mean half-eaten dishes and scattered ingredients, those can look staged as well, but a perspective that is pure and that focuses on the real subject matter.
    I would love to see more food photographs taken by you, Brian.
    I’m a huge fan of your work.

  41. February 23, 2012 4:43 pm

    I so appreciate your perspective and honesty and do come from a similar place. One does not happen without the other (photography is art whether food is involved or not). That’s the intention anyway. What you bring up is the distinction between commercial and fine art photography (including the straightforward documentary style you speak of). The trend in food photography will navigate toward some other style at some point but the distinction holds true, regardless of what’s hot or selling.

  42. Kim Smith permalink
    February 23, 2012 4:49 pm

    Yep.

  43. February 23, 2012 5:04 pm

    Kinfolk.

  44. February 23, 2012 5:15 pm

    Your blog, your story and the overall bigger picture in your mind that comes across really well through your posts, have always been inspirational to me. I am so glad you’ve voiced your feelings and opinions on food, photography as an art and honesty as a higher and more intellectual ideal that we should consistently strive for. These thoughts have also been running through my mind for a while and I sincerely hope that others take note of your post and do what you’ve always been doing. With your professional and honest attitude, I have no doubts that your work will continue to be truly outstanding. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and allowing us to see life through your eyes, ultimately giving us all an insight into a very beautiful mind.
    Christine, London.

  45. February 23, 2012 5:23 pm

    Stumbled upon your blog today and what a great post — I completely agree with you. Looking forward to more posts :)

  46. February 23, 2012 6:05 pm

    Finally. I’ve been thinking the same thing for some time especially because I can’t seem to make myself reproduce those images. It’s not authentic to me, no matter the beauty. Those shots are lovely, but I’m also interested in what’s next. You can only shoot what you comes to you. It’s tough, though, because you’re next phase may not be quite as popular.

    But you have to.

  47. February 23, 2012 6:10 pm

    Have you read Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant? Its a bunch of authors all talking about their favorite solo meals, or recounting a specific (lonely/happy/independent/whatever) phase in their lives and how it was manifested in what they ate at the time. It made me think about food (and food photography) a little differently.

    I agree that the props and the similarities make food photography all seem the same, but there’s a certain level of shame out there in showing the real, less than perfect space in which you live. No one takes pictures at McDonald’s.

  48. February 23, 2012 6:37 pm

    thanks so much for this. you are a true inspiration.

  49. February 23, 2012 7:14 pm

    All-
    A couple of additional thoughts after reading some comments.

    First, I’m not trying to tell other people what they should or shouldn’t be photographing. I’m trying to be more mindful in my own photography, so this is just my own perspective — I thought it would be helpful to share it with you here. I’m glad I did.

    Second, commercial photography is a very different beast — while I think some of my thoughts here could apply, the standard for commercial photography and advertising is very different. I don’t mean to suggest that people who shoot beautiful food photos for magazines and ads are somehow missing the mark or being pedestrian. Commercial food photography has a different aim: to sell something to a consumer.

    Third, I’m not advocating “reality TV-style” food photography or snapping bad photos in the name of honesty. What I am advocating is shooting photos with substance. I want to show a point of view and I want to be thoughtful and artistic and creative in my approach. If I’m going to shoot food, then I want to do it for a reason. Showing real, less-than-perfect food is fine, if there is a reason I’m showing it. If there is a point of view and it’s done in a mindful way, it could be really exciting. A powerful photo can be striking for many reasons – not just because it’s beautiful. But I do think it’s worth asking myself “what am I trying to say with this photo? What’s the point?”. Mindfulness.

    Fourth, I don’t mean to suggest that others should shy away from beautiful, well-styled images of food. I’m simply saying that I want my personal work (which is not selling anything) to be different than what I typically see out there. I’m not sure when everyone decided that they needed to shoot food to look like the pages of “Bon Appetit” or “Martha Stewart Living.” If it’s your personal work, make it personal!

    I like what Christine said above: “photography as an art and honesty as a higher and more intellectual ideal that we should consistently strive for.”

    I want to strive for more and I hope you do, too. I’m interested in food photography that has a sense of humor, or expresses an emotion, or pushes the envelope, or makes me see things differently. In general, work that is purposeful, thoughtful, articulate, or meaningful.

  50. February 23, 2012 7:22 pm

    It’s just that honesty that transforms that particular type of beauty, that particular segment of reality, in Art
    Like in these marvelous still life photos.
    this coming will be your spring.

  51. February 23, 2012 7:55 pm

    I’ve always loved your photos of food–in fact they were what made me first return when I stumbled across your site years ago. I like that your photos are so unadorned. So in the midst of things. There is a photo I have in my head of yours–of a handful of ramps and a tablespoon and a squeezed lemon that illustrated a post in which you gave about salad dressing… and its stuck with me because it felt so ordinary, and yet the light was right, and the moment felt both honest, and gorgeously captured.

    I totally get/agree with what you mean. I’ve felt rather daunted/inundated by all the perfection…

  52. February 23, 2012 8:36 pm

    BRIAN. you nailed it. honesty. it goes a long way! this totally appealed to me – you worded my very voice and concern on the matter perfectly. thank you so much for sharing, i couldn’t agree more. it’s all too easy and is a sweeping trend that is suffocating creativity, originality and uniqueness. when i see these perfect images on the web i am overwhelmed with a desire to try it, but then i know i have to buy it. and then i’m followed by a sickening feeling that i am just another person submitting to a temporary fad or trend. life is tricky like that. finding originality and uniqueness and challenging new levels of photography in the food world (or any, for that matter) is hard. i encourage you to do what you do best – and look for things other people might not see. too many things in life are staged. perfectly set up for that perfect photo. i agree, i wanna see the mess – the chaos. but not in an organized matter. you can still compose a beautiful photo of non-urban outfitters or anthropologie inspired linens. the perfection out there is overwhelming and like i said, it is suffocating the natural. it’s making “simple” look too complex. to me, that’s not simple at all. it takes plan, preparation and a whole lot of contemplation to get that perfect ashthetic. sometimes in life meals aren’t all vintage and raw wood. they’re cheap plates from target with plastic forks. ya know what i mean? i don’t know the remedy to this either – and boy, apparently i’m writing a story in response. anyway. thanks for sharing. i appreciate the beauty of food photography, but i, like you (i believe), am looking for something different.

  53. February 23, 2012 11:19 pm

    i think that molly of orangette is really good at the type of photography you’re talking about. in fact, i’ve always thought that, but haven’t been able to put it to words. it makes me want to eat; not buy pretty glasses or set a table. not that there is anything wrong with that, but you know what i mean.

  54. February 23, 2012 11:40 pm

    Everyone has said so many interesting things about this post, and so many echo the same thoughts I have about this fantastic post. It’s beautiful, well thought out, and most of all honest, which is something I’ve always felt about your photos. As someone who is still developing their photographic style, I often find myself looking at those oh so beautiful food photographs and wishing I could take photos like that. But when I really think about it, the only reason I want to take those photos is because I want to trick myself into believing that my life is as beautiful, perfect and styled as the lives seem in those photos. My life may not be perfect, but it’s mine, and I’m coming to realize that if I spend to much time pining over what is beautiful in others lives, I won’t see what is beautiful in mine.

    This post has encouraged me to continue to seek my own kind of beauty and art, and to push myself to discover things outside what is easy and what is often seen.

  55. February 24, 2012 12:26 am

    as always brian, inspiring words along with your inspiring photos.
    thank you.

  56. February 24, 2012 1:07 am

    Hello! I’m supposed to let you know I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Posted on my blog today. Not sure if you’ve not been nominated, but I enjoy your blog a lot- thanks.

  57. February 24, 2012 1:08 am

    I am not tired of food photos, but have developed more of a discriminating “palate”. What used to interest me no longer does. I don’t know if it is just the amount of visual opportunities that can overwhelm and then just feel mundane and boring. I am drawn to photos that create an emotional response, not a “I want to bake/make/eat that” one. Granted, I still love a photo of a croissant, but I want interesting lighting too:)

  58. February 24, 2012 3:40 am

    Hi Brian, Good for you! These reflections are very welcome I guess since you made your grand decision this year. Maybe the object of your work is of secondary importance? Maybe the main thing is to share your worldview? Anyway I love your eye, all the rest is just added technical stuff. All the best!

  59. February 24, 2012 3:40 am

    My two favourite cookbooks, and most worn, tattered and splattered with grease spots are Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking, and Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian. Both are paperbacks with no glossy, sumptuous photographs but a few very simple pencil sketches here and there.
    But I love your photos and wasn’t really aware of food being a dominant feature in many of them, rather that it was simply as much a part of your day as the kitchen sink.

  60. February 24, 2012 4:18 am

    i couldn’t agree more – it’s the sun on the patio moments that infuse the food with a meaning far beyond what was eaten. they’re real – and therefore honest – because you experienced the scene. i’m so looking forward to seeing where you take this, bf.

  61. February 24, 2012 7:49 am

    A punch to me but honestly I can’t agree more.
    Recently, I’ve started to try taking food photographs but they just look repeating. Food is a big part of life and a great way to reflect someone’s life. Nonetheless, it seems to become more and more unrealistic as it is perfected instead of reflecting someone’s real life. Even for most of the cook books in many book shops, the food photos are similar.
    Brian, you’re really a wonderful, brilliant and inspiring photographer.

  62. February 24, 2012 7:58 am

    I am actually quite in love with these pics… and these words they sound very true. Maybe it is something that could be written about every blog pictures, having a blog myself, i feel sometimes torned between what i’d like to show of my life, and what people would like to see if it…

  63. February 24, 2012 9:05 am

    Yes, I agree with you, commercial work is different and I’ve brought up a completely separate issue and didn’t mean to suggest that this was your point. Instead, your post made me reflect on both the similarities and differences found in art and advertising.

    I’m very much on the side of creating an authentic voice in art and photography and finding that place of truth in each image and story.

    After I read your post, I thought about the similarities and differences between art and advertising because especially with lifestyle driven publications, the separation is not always so apparent when the story is made to look and feel true and authentic. Have you read Hal Foster’s book “Concerning the Real in Art”? It’s an interesting read, on the theoretical side of art and photography. I think the true distinction between the two is determined by how the artist portrays the subject/object.

    I wanted to say, too, I thoroughly enjoyed this post and the discussion it has provoked!

  64. Rachel permalink
    February 24, 2012 11:03 am

    I completely agree with you: the best photography is about story-telling.

    But, let me say I believe you’re already doing just that very successfully. You’re already telling stories. When you say a good food photograph should make you feel what the sun was like, etc, for me at least, that’s what drew me to your photos in the first place. Your photographs have always reminded me that life in all its mundane simplicity is absolutely beautiful. Your photos have always inspired me to be content; as opposed to so many others, which inspire me to consume. I imagine that I’m not the only one who feels this, and maybe that’s why your food photographs get so many accolades.

  65. February 24, 2012 11:26 am

    I’ve always thought your photos were great but agree things get idealized for blogs. Food is such a part of our lives yet we know “man doesn’t live by bread alone.” I’m painting a series on what’s in my fridge…and trying to make it “as is”. Would love your comments on an oil painters view of food.

  66. February 24, 2012 11:38 am

    Agreed. Good post.

  67. randall permalink
    February 24, 2012 12:22 pm

    What I can’t stand is when I’m at a restaurant and everyone is taking stupid pictures of their plates with their phone/cameras.

    Otherwise, it just sounds like your tired of still lives. Perfectly understandable.

  68. February 24, 2012 12:35 pm

    I concur.

  69. February 24, 2012 12:51 pm

    I profoundly agree with what you say and even how you said it – and I take great comfort in the number of wise people who’ve commented here along the same lines. Keep moving ahead in your noble pursuit!

  70. Livia Forsstedt permalink
    February 24, 2012 12:55 pm

    Photos should be natural not composed and I do agree with you totally. Your photos are warm and very real.

  71. February 24, 2012 1:22 pm

    Basking in your passion for honesty in words and through the lens. Also what a privilege to have so many people take time to share with you something ignited through your blog. Stay true.

  72. February 24, 2012 1:47 pm

    i’m very much with you on this (and all 70-plus other commenters). i like photos of messy kitchens, like one at the end of a party or after getting through a meal–that nasty pile of dishes is very much a reality. it all reminds me of a movie/film i saw a year ago directed by phillip seymour hoffman (my favorite actor) called “jack goes boating.” there’s a very messy dinner scene in that movie.

  73. February 24, 2012 1:59 pm

    an interesting topic for sure. I actually always wonder about the practicalities of those shoots. I always wonder if anyone is actually eating the food and I find myself wondering about how they store all the props. I guess my point is that I hardly ever think about the food, or the recipe, or eating….it’s all sort of lost isn’t it?

    as someone who obsessively shoots what she eats I do think about this topic all the time. and as someone who’s working on a book of food photography I think about it every day. Thanks for shedding some light.

  74. February 24, 2012 2:33 pm

    Like others have said, kudos to you for being so honest. I have to agree. Food photos are starting to blur together and you can’t differentiate one from the other. What about the before? The mess of putting it all together? Egg whites dripped onto the counter or cocoa powder down the front of a shirt. And the after, the empty plates and the crumbs and the napkins smeared with peanut butter. Those are elements and part of it as well.

    I can’t wait to start seeing how you approach this new way of thinking and how it reflects in your photography.

  75. February 24, 2012 3:02 pm

    about a year ago, this trend in over-styled food photography had gotten me a bit crazy as well. I began a tumblr named tops & tails to document all the scraps that don’t make it into the photos. I’m an avid composter & gardener and have enjoyed keeping my ongoing photo journal. sometimes subverting a paradigm is the only way through.

  76. February 24, 2012 4:30 pm

    I think food photographers (bloggers and professionals) *are* aiming to achieve authenticity–but maybe the approach, as you describe it (a few scattered crumbs, antique spoons, mason jars, etc) has been overdone. It’s been copied so widely that it’s possible it’s been diluted and become tired…the styles we see are copies of copies of copies…a chain of one photographer inspired by another by another. I think photographers are trying to bring in elements of “realness” by adding the signs of a human interacting with the food….the scattered crumbs, the casually strewn silverware…but maybe it looks staged. It sounds like maybe you’re aiming to capture something real, not food set up specifically to be photographed.

    • February 25, 2012 8:58 am

      Yes! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here, KT. This approach results in a faux-authenticity that feels hollow to me.

      • February 27, 2012 12:57 pm

        YES! KT – you’ve got it. these are the words i was looking for!

  77. February 24, 2012 6:23 pm

    Yes!! So much food photography these days is pretty and turns pages but it does not give any reason to remember it tomorrow. Its always the photos with imperfections, those that leave room for the imagination, that get me. For what my opinion is worth – a complete amateur who was using a canon ixus 70 up until 2 months ago.

  78. February 24, 2012 11:03 pm

    thanks for the reminder, mr. ferry.

  79. stacey permalink
    February 25, 2012 7:06 am

    oh my god yes.

  80. February 25, 2012 12:15 pm

    I don’t know why, but as I was reading this Hemingway came to my mind. He would have agreed with you, I suppose.

  81. mcc permalink
    February 25, 2012 1:21 pm

    What you (and KT, charlotte and art and lemons) say here with respect to food photography often holds true for the words written to accompany those photographs or as blog posts. And, for Lucia, Hemingway once said, “All our words from loose using have lost their edge.” The same is true for photographs. Thanks, Brian, for an excellent post that pushes us to greater precision in how we express what we see and feel. I’m eager to see how this unfolds in your work.

  82. February 25, 2012 2:33 pm

    I think you’ve hit on something that I was felling but hadn’t really pinpointed. Some food stuff does look very same-y and very styled. And I agree that honesty would be a welcome change.

    Awesome topic, extremely well written.
    Thanks

  83. Jimjam permalink
    February 25, 2012 2:41 pm

    Let’s hear it for lip smeared napkins, odd shaped apples ( with a bruise and maybe a blemish ) and sunken pies – and less of the sourdough loaf cut in half, grey plated lemons or bottle of san pellegrino placed just so, screaming ‘we’re hip’ to the viewer.

    Looking forward to seeing what’s next.

  84. February 25, 2012 4:45 pm

    YESSSS and AMEN to all that…. As much as I love a beautiful photo, it’s only interesting as long as it speaks to me – and also, if the text is uninteresting, or ‘nulle’ as they say in France, the loveliest pixie doesn’t get my juices running – it has to be a combination to kick all the right buttons. It’s like a happy relationship: You don’t have to be a beauty queen to be loved; you have to be beautiful on the inside, you should still be able to have a conversation with your next in 40 yrs to come, you should know that being interested, interesting, intelligent, sparkling in some way renders you beautiful – an overripe apple can be glorious, a perfect Granny Smith dead-boring. A long time ago, I placed a pear-photo onto Flickr which says it all:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vol-au-vent/4042631891/

    I don’t have the time and means to run a blog, I have a very full life and in my rare uploads on a photosite I do exactly that: Combine my message and/or thought with a photo – not styled to death – but as good as I can and if I have a very good photo I love I always already when taking it I see the ‘headers’ and/or ‘a message’.

    I was drawn to your beautiful posting only a short while ago, then I left you (aside) and now I hope I’m back. I DO believe you have a message and a rare talent of giving us both – beautiful photography and wonderful texts. I yearn to get my hands on your book; and just so that you know I wrote a mail to your Parisian publishers about your book right after you published it – they never even bothered to reply… That is NOT what I mean. I would have liked to order your book but if a house cannot get back to potential customers, why give their address?

  85. February 25, 2012 9:04 pm

    I’m totally into your perspective of how one should approach not only food and photography but life. There´s no absolute perfection rather than the imperfect perfection, right? That’s what makes every snapshot, very glimpse of life and it’s stories unique and magical. Once I thought I needed to do the same (I’m an unexperienced late blogger) but then, the whole mysticism would fade away. That’s when I knew I wanted to make photos that were most real, taken with all the “imperfections” that makes them mine and not something that looks the same to the work of others, without a personality on their own.They’re just pretty pictures. Thank you for putting the words to a mixed feeling I had yet to describe.
    PS. love your work and your blog and congrats for the new career path.
    Greetings from Mexico City.

  86. February 26, 2012 7:18 am

    I am sure that you’re honest, down-to-earth when it comes to taking photos and that becomes what we can feel genuinely from your photos as you meant it in the first place. As people say, it’s the natural beauty. When we’re tired of seeing clichéd food photos, what we see here on your blog is refreshing. Hope that it continuously goes on!

  87. February 26, 2012 9:38 pm

    It’s very odd but I have been thinking about this a lot lately and judging from the comments above I am not the only one. I love food blogs, but honestly I was reflecting about the fact that all or (most of) the food photography these days basically looks the same which really makes me bored and which is why I haven’t even ventured into this field for the fear of becoming a copy of something already seen a million times. Very few people have tried to do something different and the moment they did it, they were promptly followed by a multitude of people. I think there is definitely need of more creativity in food photography, or maybe what it takes is just the awareness that photographing food, just like photographing everything else, is a very personal thing and just like for every other aspects of photography it requires a very personal approach in order to be interesting.

  88. Jimjam permalink
    February 27, 2012 1:01 pm

    This has made me think ALL WEEKEND about every meal I have, how I expect it to look, whether at a restaurant or served at home – it’s all just another form of homogenisation like supermarkets and shopping malls/chains…we now expect certain things, certain things denote ‘nice’.

    It’s almost as if the embracing of rustic and white has been made bland – little room for mismatched…

    This all brings me back to John Berger’s ‘ways of seeing’ – ( ie we know a painting is impressive because it’s hung in a gallery, therefore we admire it, however if it has no buzz around it and it’s left outside a grotty house it brings a whole new meaning to the picture, even if it’s the same one).

    I love it when I go somewhere new and they’ve made an effort with design or it fits into what I’ve established in my head as ‘cool’ – the Americans are very good at this – building glamour into something. Look at an English menu next to an American – England has pepper, America has pink cracked pepper. We have honey, maybe organic honey, America has meadow collected…

    If you have dinner at a friend’s house do you remember the loud person who sits next to you and talks incessantly about themselves all evening, or the quiet gentle guest who’s charming, smiles, leaves quietly and you can’t wait to find more about? Which one stays in your head…can we present food this way?

    Surely food photography it’s the closest thing we have to the beauty industry – like our models we need to build a glamorous dream, to get us salivating. Food for the eyes.

    I cannot work out if this is all some sort of inverted snobbery – i’ve never seen more people moan about fashion than people IN the fashion industry for example. Are we saying we want MORE than we’re already getting or LESS? Will whatever comes next be a bandwagon appropriated and watered down for the masses in time – will we never stop raping and pillaging/hunting and gathering?

    Very interested in the way things go… ( apologies for the jumbles of thought processes )

  89. Laurence permalink
    February 27, 2012 4:31 pm

    Oui c’est vrai, la nourriture seule cela n’a pas de sens. La nourriture c’est le partage et la convivialité.
    Merci pour vos photos et votre esprit de partage.
    Yes it’s true, the only food that does not make sense. The food is sharing and conviviality.
    Thank you for your photos and your spirit of sharing.

  90. February 27, 2012 9:25 pm

    Yes! I feel the same way. I’m not interested in seeing rusty old spoons or ribbons and rafia tied around chipped jars. All of the staging to capture the “perfect moment” rings false and uninteresting. I love your photos because they do tell a story and capture a moment. Thank you.

  91. February 28, 2012 3:23 am

    I love your ending “There is a particular type of beauty in honesty. ” Well said.

  92. February 28, 2012 5:19 am

    dude, you should be honest more often because that was some damn good writing there (talk about making me feel something).

  93. February 28, 2012 6:10 am

    I’ve sidled in at the last minute to thank you for this post, Brian. And everyone else for their generous, informative comments. What a pleasure it has been to find you all there this morning.
    Have you read The Day To Day Life Of Albert Hastings photographed by Kaylynn Deveney? I think you would enjoy it. The honest beauty that she sees in Bert’s simple existence, his age and fragile humanity; in the small rituals and routines that make up his daily life has been a touchstone for me.
    I do hope you can get your hands on a copy.
    Here’s the Kaylnn Deveney’s website for you: http://www.kaylynndeveney.com/index.html.
    Thanks again. Lovely, thought provoking stuff.

  94. February 28, 2012 8:21 am

    Which is why I mostly stick with nature. I’ve read your blog from time to time, think I might have been subscribed to it once, but I unsubscribed. It isn’t necessarily something against your blog, but I think it was the general sentiment of other bloggers, it was too precious….but at the same time I think I was envious.

    Keep taking photos and writing. It is your story after all, you don’t have to please everyone else.

  95. February 28, 2012 8:38 am

    Wow what a great, long overdue post. I’ve felt really overwhelmed and below par with my food photography as I don’t style food well at all, as much as I’ve tried. I often feel very envious of those perfectly styled food shots.

    I personally have always loved imperfections in photography – I love shadows, odd composition and can’t slice a cake or loaf of bread straight to save myself. I’ve learned to embrace my own style but your post has brought things into perspective – thank you.

  96. February 28, 2012 9:08 am

    I’m so sick of seeing pictures of people’s leftover breakfasts. Sometimes I wish food photography would start to go the other way – convey the sick feeling you get when you eat too much, how sad leftovers can look when left out overnight. not necessarily all bad feelings, just sort of a “the party’s over now” approach. like a hangover after a good night. or capture the feeling of how wonderful leftover pizza tastes. on a papertowel. with all the fancy dishes in the sink.

  97. February 28, 2012 10:52 am

    I think this is one of my favorite posts of yours. I love to hear you’re thoughts and read about how you see something that interests so many people. I see so many pictures of food on Pinterest that are exactly what you describe. I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with wanting your picture to look nice, but I agree that it has become so common place as to be boring.

    • February 28, 2012 10:57 am

      I agree, Amy – your photo *should* look nice – I don’t advocate taking bad photos! I just think the definition of “nice” should encompass many different looks, and not only what you’ve been seeing on Pinterest etc.

  98. February 28, 2012 11:08 am

    i wonder similar things about the ways i photograph my handknits, the edge of preciousness and stage-i-ness that i am attracted to and repulsed by. so i think the thoughts you bring up can be considered in a wider context than just food blogging/photography. i wonder if it is simple a sign of health: we are essentially a collective, all influenced by each other, and are together squirming a bit as the skin we are in is feeling a bit tight. Could it be you are noticing a healthy stage of all of our process where we are mirroring to each other that we are ready to shed this current skin and grow? Grow toward a higher/deeper level of honesty and artistry? I hope so. Also, these feelings i have been noticing for some time have propelled me to do something personally that I have never done before, I am taking a weaving class. Maybe I will photograph my process with it, maybe not. It feels liberating to do something for my artistic self that is potentially outside the internet world. I hope it will feed me in healthy ways. Thank you for sharing this post.

  99. February 28, 2012 2:18 pm

    When you published this post nearly a week ago, I stumbled upon it via a link on facebook. I read it and felt as though you had felt the fatigue I was feeling in my own heart about my own food photography. Not only was it the same old same old all over the web, but I was guilty of my own robotic styling. I had made a conscious effort to take a step back and try to stay more true, more focused and find, somehow, a new perspective. It is hard when there is almost an inbreeding of food photography. But the beauty of this is that it challenges us all who try our hardest to capture what we love so much about food. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  100. February 29, 2012 6:57 am

    I agree with you… It should not be just about food, but about the meal; what you eat, where you eat and who you eat it with! Challenge and growth are key to taking good photos. Can’t wait to see what you produce with this thought in mind!

  101. March 1, 2012 3:47 pm

    some day i hope to have the skills to really tell stories with my photographs. using the 365 project… i’m trying, but i’ve got a long way to go.

    http://onemomenteveryday.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/17jan2012/

  102. March 1, 2012 6:35 pm

    I just watched the TEDxAustin video by Penny De Los Santos about food photography, and how passionate she is about food culture – that it involves people from all walks of life in that moment when they are prepping, cooking, eat, talking food.

    So somehow the term (although its just a change of a word) ‘food culture’ resonates better with me about keeping it real.

    She has been a real inspiration since I discovered her work, so if you haven’t already.. check out her TEDxAustin video http://tinyurl.com/7h6fkq7

  103. March 1, 2012 9:11 pm

    What a fascinating discussion you have generated! I have only just discovered your blog via a colleague on Twitter. As an old school writer and amateur photographer who is rather new to the world of blogging, I find all of this very interesting indeed. You have certainly given me some food for thought, Brian. Thank you.

  104. Georgia permalink
    March 1, 2012 9:50 pm

    I love this. You’re such a refreshing gem. I couldn’t agree more re: food photography. Donna Hay magazine anyone? Amazing skill and passion for the art of photography. You’ve earned yourself another follower. And not just for your photos of food.

  105. March 2, 2012 3:00 am

    It was just two weeks ago that I posted on twitter, “I don’t care if I ever see another piece of bakers twine or burlap as long as I live”. I was referring to food photography and I couldn’t believe how many people replied and knew exactly what I was talking about. I have been struggling with this issue for two years. The problem is that sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting require a certain look that really seems to stifle the creative process for me. I have the joy in living in a place so unique and also a place so many people find fascinating, yet I really feel sad that my photos really look no different than those take pretty much anywhere else.
    I hope you will continue to develop your ideas on this subject. I would love to hear more.

    • March 2, 2012 7:36 am

      I wasn’t familiar with these websites previously, Foodgawker and Tastespotting – seems like it’s a competition of some sort?! Perhaps it’s time to find new sources of online inspiration, if so many of you don’t like what they are doing there.

      • March 8, 2012 10:29 pm

        Hi Brian, thanks for bringing this topic up. Yes, sites like Tastespotting are highly competitive because of the traffic they can drive to your site. They create a culture of conformity. And people begin to evaluate their photography and creativity skills based on if they are accepted into these “clubs”. It’s amazing to really think about since the people behind sites like Tastespotting are not chefs and not even experienced photographers. It is just someone who sits at their computer all day long clicking either “accept” or “reject”.

        We definitely need to find new sources of online inspiration…

  106. March 2, 2012 7:11 pm

    AGREED! The same applies to interior design. I want to see the real life – the soul!

  107. March 4, 2012 9:13 am

    This is brilliant. It is so difficult to come across food that hasn’t been shot on a country-coloured bowl sitting atop a lacy table spread. It was charming and to some extent it still is to see the kind of food photography that has become fashionable. But I can honestly say that 70% of the time I just click away from those websites instead of wanting to eat food that looks so perfect.

    I don’t want to sea how many place settings you’ve changed for every shot or how you’ve been chasing the light through your house all day to get perfect shots. I yearn to see real food on people’s blog, the real way they eat it. I want to see the messy table after a crab lunch. There are so few blogs that do that now. :-(

    The timing for this posted is just perfect!

  108. Jenny permalink
    March 5, 2012 12:20 pm

    Nice, interesting post. It’s sad that images that used to be inspiring now seem monotonous. And when looking at these things begins to feel just like window shopping, or consuming of another sort. Someone should start by declaring a week or month of original content; no reblogging allowed!

  109. March 5, 2012 12:21 pm

    Nice, interesting post. It’s sad that images that used to be inspiring now seem monotonous. And when looking at these things begins to feel just like window shopping, or consuming of another sort. Someone should start by declaring a week or month of original content; no reblogging allowed!

  110. Sil permalink
    March 5, 2012 12:29 pm

    I agree with you, Brian. And I think that one of the reasons of why I love your photos is because they feel natural, spontaneous, unpretentious. :-)

  111. March 9, 2012 10:35 am

    Brian, I don’t think I’ve ever commented here before, but this post really resonated with me as an observer. I blog and take photos (but am not a photographer, I call myself a picture taker), but also work on a daily basis with my husband to consult for companies who are creating their brand identities. I look at my work with them from a place of consumer (my husband is really the creative) and I think you are so right to push yourself this way. The consumer eye has been offered lots of ways to look at food in lifestyle settings, and I think its important for photographers to give us their eye, if you will. Take us in new directions. To push us and evoke us in some way, bring us into their world. When Bon Apetit completely changed the way their food photography looked in their magazine years ago, whether or not we liked the new direction, everyone I knew still stopped to look. I’m rambling, and probably confusing too, but just wanted to share our own perspective, from a company that works with photographers to convey a message. I enjoy your photos and your thoughts, even though I don’t comment.

  112. March 10, 2012 5:02 pm

    Yes, this makes perfect sense. I just found your blog through Twitter early this morning on the iPhone, in bed…and by early, I mean 2h. I really wanted to run to my computer and tell you that your thoughts on this subject are exactly what I, and apparently others, have been thinking as I’ve come to explore yet another subject in my photography.

    I have seen this exact phenomenon going on in the newborn photography world – something I’ve been following for the past 3 1/2 years as a designer of newborn photography props. The poses are copied from one photographer to the next to the point that you start thinking it’s one photographer’s work, only to discover that it’s ten others who have not bothered to go so far in their craft as to distinguish themselves. Looking at those photos, as apparently in the world of food photography (new to me), becomes boring and you find yourself looking bleary-eyed at yet another newborn in the “head-in-chin” pose or some other weirdly twisted and unnatural pose that has become the latest craze.

    So, as I’ve been looking through magazines and online, I am starting to notice great similarities among food photographers. In newborn photography, using the dark wooden boards as props has been called the “sauna look”. I’m seeing that in food photography, there is a similar use of boards – albeit, white in nature. I’m still developing my own style and also wish to distinguish my work from all of the photographs of food found online. I do love color (as can be seen from my handknits), so I will be incorporating splashes of color alongside my food. Commercial photography is in a league of its own, I agree.

    I often wonder if people actually like to cook or simply want to photograph the food. I, too, would love to see more photos of real food – and I love to cook and bake. The over-staged look is definitely too prevalent. The time has come for a new style.

  113. March 13, 2012 12:35 am

    Interesting thoughts. This is my favourite blog for “keeping it real” when it comes to food and photographing it…nothing is really styled…http://wholelarderlove.com/

  114. March 13, 2012 3:41 pm

    Stumbled here from a Google search, and I love,love this mini essay on food photography and what we should be striving for–the experience, the moment, the place of food in the world. You say it so eloquently, and it sums up perfectly where I think food photography is headed. (or, at least, where I hope that it’s headed)

  115. Lucy permalink
    March 15, 2012 4:19 am

    this girl does food differently.

    http://www.sarahillenberger.de/

  116. March 18, 2012 7:37 pm

    Wow! I just came across this thread and am finding everyone’s thoughts and comments very insightful and agree with so much. Often I find myself trying to style some food for a photo while simultaneously hating how mainstream I’m being. I think its important to take note of Marshall McLuhan’s idea here that the medium is the message. All I hear about lately is how awesome and the sharp that images are from the Canon 5D or some other fancy camera but to think in terms of reality, these cameras are the furthest thing from that. Reality is not sharp and precisely focused and auto-enhanced. Reality is grainy and hectic and imperfect. If we want our art to show honesty then I think the most important step is to respect the original medium. The only way for photography to show reality these days is to strip it down into it original form of nothing but light and a chemical reaction on film. I really admire your work Brian and I hit myself over the head all the time for letting my 35mm gather dust in my closet and taking the quick and easy route with my digital. Your post really got me thinking about going out to buy some film tomorrow and to re-immerse myself into the medium I love so much. Thanks for the inspiration!

  117. Marko permalink
    April 8, 2012 5:09 am

    First time here (came through Saveur -> The Year in Food -> this post). I agree with you. Food isn’t just food, it’s what goes on around it. The emotion it provokes isn’t there only because of the taste, or the decoration, but also because of everything that happened around it. The people, the weather, what you were doing that day, was it home or was it an unknown country, etc. Food photography and blogs are mostly taking things out of context. A mojito in a dark room, or in front of a sunset? After you had a fight, or after you made love? Perfect does not exist. I can’t taste it through a browser, but maybe a good story will put a smile on my face and give me a feel how was it. Actually, the less you show on pictures, the more is left to immagine. A bit contradictory to where it’s at in food photoraphy, right? ;)

  118. April 11, 2012 8:39 pm

    Have had this very thing on my mind for a while, not that I’ve done much to change my routine photography. I’m am tired of the same old, same old, and like you, not sure how I’ll break out of the mold I’ve formed for myself, but I will be trying, and will be keeping my eyes open for others like yourself to see originality blossom once again in the world of food blogging. Thanks for putting many of my thoughts down in words.

  119. July 15, 2012 6:09 pm

    I totally agree with you. However, I am finding that the photos you are talking about are the ones I am capturing on my iphone rather than my kick-ass camera. Case in point: http://kimberlytaylorimages.com/apricot-confiture/ I can’t seem to get shots like this from my “good” camera. Thoughts?
    xx

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