Still Life – Food – Part 1

This is part 1 of my research into food photographers, to assist with the brief for my first still life assignment.

Stuart Ovenden

Throughout this selection of images, I really love how Ovenden chose just a couple of colours to focus on and really makes them vivid and bright. The limited palette allows him to build up the composition without making the image look too full or busy. It’s a very carefully curated simplicity, and it works.

The yellow of the knife handle ties in the lemon and the oil (or butter?), which creates a diagonal line of yellow from top left to bottom right. This breaks up the green and white, and the rust of the scissors brings in the purple of the artichoke hearts. This image screams “fresh and healthy” but it is shot as though the process has been interrupted suddenly. I like that the tablecloth isn’t neat and pristine, there are crumbs and spots of food here and there and it is textured, creating shadows. There is a repeating theme of circles throughout the image (and those that follow), from the bowls of varying sizes to the artichoke to the scissor handle.

In the cherries image: again, circles and just a few colours, but they are vivid and contrast well with each other. The setting is again a little bit messy, and the surface is textured and not spotlessly clean.

David Loftus

I don’t think I would recognise that all of Loftus’s images were by the same photographer. He has captured peaches and peachy coloured subject matter so differently in terms of composition, lighting, and styling. I love the bright colours, especially the contrasts with the greyish or blue backgrounds or props, in the first three images, but the purple on purple, and the glass on what looks like a dark bar, are too same-y for me. I’m including the following two images just because the colours are batshit crazy and they bring me joy.

Isabella Cassini

This deconstruction of a recipe is kind of how I pictured my image for my first assignment. The brief calls for ingredients as the focus, so I think a sort of falling-into-assembly image fits that brief whilst also informing of the final product. Looking at this now, though, I wonder if it is maybe too literal an idea. Either way, it’s a good starting point, and it got me looking at her other examples of food photography:

I especially love the last image, with the shattered tea cup and saucer. I like the juxtaposition of something so dainty being in such a state of chaos. I had been planning on using a teacup in my shoot, albeit in a different way, so it’s cool to see how other photographers are using them as props.

The watermelon kaleidoscope is another appealing image. Although the green on green is a little repetitive I like the busy-ness and the limited palette, and the others in the Kaleidoscope series are just as delightful. The aquarium salad is just fun. Cassini’s creativity breaks away from her more traditional set ups, like this Dutch-style spread, which is technically good but doesn’t capture my imagination in the same way:

Andrea Minoia

I got some fun tips from Minoia’s post about Creative photography, including stacking (top) and playing to the ingredients’ characteristics (bottom).

Caroline (Sugarberry)

I really like the playfulness of the compositions and the food itself in these. The colours look so fantastic and whimsical. There’s something very childlike about them, but the darkness of the backgrounds give them a sophisticated edge.

Sarah Pflug

Soft light, barely any shadow. Very light tones.
Orange/blue contrast, with only one additional colour on the palette. Monochromatic but tonal background.
Strong geometric lines, it looks like a green gel filter has been used on one side to create the green shadows? Lots of triangles.
Limited palette, harsh shadows, playful composition. The one crushed starchy snack is unexpected.

Four out of these five images are very simple compositions against a bold, monochromatic or geometrically edged background, very synthetic looking (as opposed to the natural background of the fish dinner image). The shot of the fish is stylistically and compositionally very different. Nice diagonal composition of the plates and the log (?), soft vertical lines of the table, and a strong horizontal of the fish. I like the way these orientations work together. I also like the soft dappled light on the table and the sharp shadow to the right of the plates.

Madelene Farin

Farin’s creativity is delightful. She is literally playing with food, and these images appeal to me more than her conventional food shots. The bold colours are fun and engaging.

That’ll wrap up Part 1, I’m really enjoying researching food photographers, and I’m recognising that I prefer fun, colourful shots over conventional ones. I’m slightly annoyed that my parents always told me not to play with my food, and I’m about to raid the fridge because this is hungry work!

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