Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Last Lunches

What is the deal with food photography lately? I was in this coffee shop the other day, and this couple was busy photographing every item of food on their plates. And it was not exactly exciting food. Just black coffee, sandwiches, pie . . . What do they do with the pictures? Put them on the wall?

Hey, look, this is what I ate last night! And this was lunch! But wait, don't go. You haven't seen breakfast yet.


ACravan said...

Laughing at these is still making my back hurt, but I can't stop. I think digital photography, like digital publishing of words, but even more so, has its positive and negative sides, and that the food photography you describe has strong potential bias toward the negative. My mother and father were avid food photographers. They traveled to Europe regularly and dined at all the starred Michelin places, snapping away with a very good camera. The funny thing is that the pictures, which they proudly displayed (a "best-of" selection, obviously; the number of photos was incredibly high), were generally flawed, especially when blown up, by the inclusion of corners of packs of low-nicotine cigarettes (i.e., not a classic Cubist Gauloise or Gitaines or even a Camel or Lucky Strike look), partially-filled ashtrays, finger-printed water glasses, etc., which tended to make the food on display look less appetizing. Still, I am happy to have their memories because they're not here any longer, and their efforts were really passionate, not just "active." I know there's a website maintained by a frequent flyer who displays all his airplane meals, which seems like one of those conceptual art ideas that are better thought about than seen. The funny thing is how hard it is to make food look good in photos. Two people I know (in publishing no less) post snaps of poisonous-looking meals online. One even moved to France to pursue this addiction. Don't they know how the food magazine editors and stylists labor with hairspray and lacquer to make food look like "food?" Your drawings, incidentally, look very appetizing. Curtis

TC said...

Yegads! What blogger has never considered becoming a Food Pornographer?!

(WV: croning... but it only hurts when I laugh!)

Lyle Daggett said...

In one of Kurt Vonnegut's novels, he has a brief vignette describing a science fiction world of the future, in which many forms of life have become extinct, and natural sources of food are scarce, so people get their nutrition entirely from food pills. He describes a Thanksgiving dinner where the "feast" on someone's plate consists of a turkey pill, a mashed potatoes pill, a cranberry sauce pill, etc.

Then he describes a pornographic movie theater on this same science fiction world, which shows movies of people eating actual food.

Nin Andrews said...

Oh I love that, eating real food as porn. And the plastic food in Tom's photos . . . So appetizing!
And I think photographing airplane food --
which is always a bit sci fi. Reminds me of how my mother once said they used to sell canned hamburgers.

One of the restaurants around here used to have photos of the food on their menu that were so unappealing, people complained. The food was actually good, but the menu made it look like airplane food . . .

Urban Mermaid said...

When my mother worked in advertising years ago she told us the agency filled their Oreos with cement in place of the white creme filling so they didn't melt on camera.

Urban Mermaid said...

Luis Borges story of map makers comes to mind. I wonder if we are not doing this very same thing in digitizing our world.

Glenn said...

Bob Dylan said recently that these days people seemed to need 800 photos of themselves in order to prove that they actually exist.

Yes, I know, nothing to do with food photography, but still ...

TC said...

Bob underestimated that figure by a factor of ten. Last week I actually saw a person trip over a curb due to not looking down due to being too busy taking a picture of itself. (The self-photographing frenzy is no respecter of gender.)

Oy, these humans. And yes, Glenn, I think here is a link.

Not, that is, between the two-legged self-picture-takers among whom we move these days (tentatively mind you, lest they pop out their cellphone cameras and start pointing them at us), and actual human folk.

But there is a link between taking pictures of yourself and taking pictures of the food you wish to put into yourself, in order to enlarge yourself. I think that link might be called narcissism.

I once posted some food porn pictures I thought disgusting:

A Slice of Life As Bleeding Cheesecake.

And one commenter suggested that they reminded him of, I guess he meant, his girlfriend. Or maybe it was simply, how much he loved any old kind of cheesecake. (I think he must have been a New Yawkah.)

(WV "phoks"-- a bit of serendipity there -- illuminating the food porn/self-photographing porn link -- the dumb-narcissist phoks are all around us, closing in...reminds me a little of the plot of "Contagion", that recent slice of Hollywood epidemic-porn.)

TC said...

But let's never forget the Eminent Victorians, with their curious tastes, as, for example, the strange longings for French Toast.

I believe it was formerly said, "The French know about these things". The "things" in question had been thought to be things sexual. But now it can be told -- what they really knew about was "Pain Perdu".

That crazy Frenchman, Matthew Arnold, still leaving his syrupy tracks across our innocent breakfast nooks!