Always Photograph your Food

Nectarine Pistachio Salad

Nectarine Pistachio Salad

While I’m not a food photographer, I do love to photograph my food, if for no other reason than to honour and appreciate what I’m eating, whether at home or in a restaurant.

Food is a huge part of family memories – from favourite recipes growing up, to daily meals, to special occasions and travel.
 

It should be part of our photographic repertoire.

 
The preparing and eating of food is a sensory experience and can bring us right into the moment.

By opening our senses, we see the visual delight, smell the aromas, hear the slicing and dicing, touch the skins, and taste what we’ve prepared (or has been prepared for us).

We can photograph food in grocery stores, outdoor markets, events, at restaurants, on our travels, or at home.
 

See

 

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight

I was delighted to find these bins of Turkish Delight at a local orchard store. While I’m avoiding sugar these days, the colourful bins drew me in. I bought four different pieces, and they were delicious.

See the colours, shapes, and textures as well as the beauty of food on your plate when it’s all together. I especially love photographing my food in a restaurant before I eat.
 

Smell

 

Soup

Soup Aroma

Pay attention to the smells as you’re cooking. Soup is a great place to start, or smell the spices as you add them to whatever you’re making.
 

Niagara Icewine Festival

Niagara Icewine Festival


Hear

 
Listen to the sounds as you slice and dice and the sizzles and boils and pops as you cook.

Or, the sounds of glasses clinking, forks clicking, knives slicing, people talking at an event, restaurant, or coffee shop.

The image to your right was taken at the Niagara Icewine Festival outdoors last January.
 

Touch

 
Even your snacks are fair game. Doesn’t this image of caramel corn make you want to reach out and touch (and eat)?

Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn


Feel the textures as you prepare (or eat) your food – from the smoothness of the apple to the fuzziness of the peach to the jagged edges of the pineapple.

The variety of textures is amazing.

Also, feel the way the food lands in your mouth.

Besides the taste, you can feel the texture of a piece of meat or the refreshing lightness of a cool drink, or the softness of a piece of chocolate.
 
 

Taste

 

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

And, finally when our food is ready, it’s time to photograph, and then taste and enjoy. After all, that’s what it’s there for.
 
Resources on Food and Photography

Marie Robledo – food portfolio. She is one of my favourites because of her emphasis on design.

Top Ten Food Photographers from Flavour

11 Great Camera Angles for Food Photography from Digital Photography School

Eat Your Way to Gorgeous (a class I’m taking now) from Sue Ann Gleason of Conscious Bites Nutrition

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Art Wolfe’s Abstractions

Recently, in my weekly newsletter, I shared a video of photographer Art Wolfe giving a talk at Google. This video struck a chord with many.

Pointillism

Pointillism

Art Wolfe is a world-renowned travel and wildlife photographer, as well as art educator. Even so, he tells us that he’s not very technical. As a matter of fact, he may only know 4% of what his camera can do.
 

His point is that his strengths lie more in the composition and seeing aspects of photography.

“The hardest thing for a photographer is to find a compelling image in that 360 degree world we live in. What I try to teach is how to find your subject as you’re walking down the street in any location on the planet and pull out something that 99% of the rest of the population would never see.”

The entire video covers a wide range of subjects and is well worth watching. However, I was particularly drawn to his abstract work. Art Wolfe has a background in painting and he goes on to say that his greatest influences in photography have been painters.

He was first influenced by the Impressionists of the late 1800′s, particularly Georges Seurat, who painted everyday life in Paris in the pointillist style.

Wolfe goes on to show many examples he’s found in nature that reflect this style. The example, above right, is one of my images of this style. By the way, all images in this post are mine. You can see Art Wolfe’s wonderful examples in the video.

Another example he cites is Monet, a very well known impressionist, who used imprecise brush strokes. Wolfe began experimenting with longer shutter speeds or taking advantage of wind blowing or snow falling to create impressionistic images – something near and dear to my heart.

Impressionism

Impressionism

Van Gogh is another example of an impressionist painter, although his paintings are completely unique and surrealistic. Wolfe describes how reflections that distort reality can often look like a Van Gogh painting, something I find as well.

Pollock-Style

Pollock-Style

Wolfe goes on to show how he finds Picasso’s cubist-style in overturned boats and Georgia O’Keefe’s flowers in icebergs in the Antarctic.

At first, he didn’t understand the chaotic abstracts of Jackson Pollock, until “he saw a Jackson Pollock in a mud-spattered vehicle in southern China.”

In his early years, Wolfe became known as a wildlife photographer. Today he says,

“I’m shooting rusting cans in a gutter, to the grand landscapes and everything in-between. As an artist, and having a background in painting, and illustration, and graphic design, I shoot without prejudice. And, it just opens up the world. I never run out of ideas.”

I love that saying – to shoot without prejudice. It opens up so many possibilities.

 

Wolfe goes on in the conversation to explore composition (something he teaches), the value of leading lines and different lenses, as well as showing some of his newest work.

One project, called Migrations, is about animal migrations, but is really about patterns.

In another, he photographs cultures from above, creating abstract views of people.

“The trick and the challenge is to constantly come up with perspectives, points of view, that haven’t quite been done before. That’s what gets me out of bed, that’s what motivates me.”

 

You might also like:

 
Post: What do Abstract Expressionism and Graffiti have in common?

Post: The Fun of Abstract Photography

Urban Decay Series – Part 1 (Rust), Part 2 (Wabi-sabi and Wood), Part 3 (Walls and Roads)

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The Value of Humility

SeeingIsFreeing

Tara Brach begins her Podcast on Humility with a story about a prisoner in his cell. The prisoner sees an ant and spends some time watching it, engaging with it, giving it crumbs, etc. After some time doing this, he wonders why “it took him 10 long years of solitary confinement to open his eyes to the loveliness of ant.”

What enabled this man to value the ant was not only his attention, but the quality of humility. Once he decided the ant was worthy of his attention, he was not putting himself above or separate. The ant was sharing the cell with him and he was able to appreciate the ant’s qualities.

Humility is one of the nine contemplative habits and one we are discussing this week in the Adventures in Seeing workshop.

Tara Brach’s one hour podcast on the subject is full of wisdom and I highly recommend listening to it. Here is a summary of her words, along with some of the quotes she mentions.

“Be humble, for you are made of earth. Be noble, for you are made of stars.” ~ Serbian Proverb

The word humility comes from the Latin “humus,” meaning earth or ground. There’s a sense of common ground and equality with all of life.
 

What Humility is Not

 
debasement, false modesty, self-importance, arrogance, superiority, judgment

“It’s important that we learn humility. Modesty is a learned affectation. It’s no good. Humility is great because it says there was someone before me. I’m following in someone’s footsteps. There will be someone after me. We belong to each other. We’re inter-influencing each other all the time. Humility gets that we’re part of something larger.” ~ Maya Angelou

What Humility Is

 
honouring our particular talents, recognizing our limitations (the places where we’re conditioned or reactive); lack of self-importance or self-fixation; able to see the good in ourselves and others; surrendering the small, egoic identity (importance, pride) to realize our sacred connection

“But those talents and limitations are like ripples or waves on the ocean. We know the depth of who we really are. It arises out of this wise view – a deep wisdom understanding of interdependence. Everything we do, perceive, experience is related to everything else in the world. You cannot take yourself apart from things.” ~ Tara Brach

Brach says that, according to the Talmud, the words of the Torah (or spiritual wisdom) only survive in those whose minds are humble. Humility is essential for spiritual progress or the attainment of wisdom.

“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, Love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Deflation and Inflation

 
It’s quite natural as we evolve that we feel a sense of separateness and that this leads to deflation and inflation (of our ego). We all bounce back and forth.

But, self-importance (or self-fixation or separateness) blocks seeing the world as it is; it blocks wisdom and goodness.

Deflation (feeling bad about ourselves) – comes from a strand of truth. We want to feel a sense of belonging, which makes us vulnerable. We’re conditioned, we have fears, we get angry and reactive, we can cause harm. We’re far from perfect.

Brach describes deflation (and inflation) as delusions – owning the experience. This is a form of separateness, making us feel shame, that there is something wrong with us, or that we’re undeserving.

Inflation (feeling we’re special) – also has a strand of truth. We come from the stars. We’re consciously aware. We sense our radiance and luminosity and feel very special and awesome.

Again, the delusion is owning the experience, because this radiance comes from the earth, through us. It doesn’t belong to us.

Inflation makes us feel superior to others (and all of nature). It’s expression is arrogance, entitlement, pride, and we cling to this too, because it protects us from feeling empty.

Inflation is present when there is stereotyping, labelling, judging – as good/bad, better/worse, smart/dumb, right/wrong, etc.

With our continued evolution, however, we move towards a sense of belonging and oneness and interdependence.

Humility is shedding any feeling of superiority or inferiority. 

Humility is about moving towards that place of belonging, not separateness – a place where everyone and everything has a part to play, where nothing is better or worse than anything else.

Noticing our own episodes of deflation and inflation starts to recondition the patterns.
 

Seeing is freeing. ~ Tara Brach

 
Similarly, in photography Art Wolfe says that he “shoots without prejudice,” meaning that everything is a possible (and worthy) subject for his lens.

I can totally relate to this. Seeing everything as worthy has greatly expanded my photography repertoire. I see much more beauty than I used to.

What does humility mean to you?
 

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