Food and photography- two of the most explored passions of the 21st century and in such extents dramatic enough in the entailing of either, so much so that both boast of a reputation equally alluring in the range of what they unfold as, as aesthetic phenomena to the senses each remarkable in their own way in identity. Naturally then, with such immense indulgence of the sensations that they both captivate as wondrous elements in arousal, it would be but a given that the conglomeration of them into a single expanse of awareness would sum up such mavericks that would end up enthralling and enticing and exciting every dimension across which it unravels as premises in picture perfectness.
And that’s exactly what reveals as the enigma that food photography has proved to be particularly in recent times even though it isn’t anything of such novel stemming. Not at least in the basis of its origin that comfortably spans a decent time frame of more than a century and a half even when it presents as a more definitely modern prospect in the pretty scheme of things. Entailing as early as in 1845 out of the very first publicly available photographic technique of the daguerreotype has been the beginnings in which food picturisation found its own appetite in presentation.
Some peaches and a pineapple finding representation within the frame of William Henry Fox Tablot was the first ever food photo that the world could salivate over. Setting thus the precedent for other way more palatable pictures to follow adhering much to styles of the sensuous naturally appealing to the human being that the resultant ‘revolution’ in food photographing came to encompass a parallel identity of food porn had been this classic depiction in what evokes indeed images of the ‘basket of fruits’ reference that all of us had tried sketching in our childhood sitting along the duration of our art classes.
In its stage of nascency, food photography emerged out of the ideals that made up still life painting. Presenting as shots composed in a manner very ordinary in their depiction like exactly as in reality, food photography emerged perhaps out of the convenience of the subject of clicking and capturing being a fixture in staticity. Very often steeped in the then standard perceiving of objects in symbolic notions, whether of moral or religious basis, the early days of food photography indeed have been very different from its present day resplendence in the technical way of exploration that dwells exclusively on dishing out a display decked up in all definite assertions of delectability. For indeed photographing food has today moved out from the fore of being only an art to identify also as servings of awe and irresistibleness, while incorporating as well connotations of status and class in social relevance indeed but largely of the digital kind.
But before this overabundance of food pictures made for a splash on social media, courtesy of course the forever sizzling sequences of sight playing out from across the Instagram platform most popularly while also conquering other similar expanses of space, it had been commercial food photography that emerged sometime in the 20th century. Confined at that time in causing a stir through display upon pages of magazines and cookbooks, or rather cookbooklets to be true to the terminology of the times, the prospect in photographing food though would come to revel in the newly acquired vivacity of showcasing their true colors. That would be a mid 1930s happening but almost a decade earlier, the deviation from the artistic tradition to encompass also both the technical aspects and technique of design was what transformed food photography indeed from being specimens of creativity to occurring as servings of style.
And yet in ushering in this revolution of sorts in instantly captivating visages mainly lent through the impeccable plays of color in all vividness, the elaborate and extravagant rendition of food as pictures made for appealing indeed but rather unrealistic presentations in what edible stuff should look like in holding intact the essence of them in eating. Ironically however, the unrealisticness of it all was sufficiently real in that most of the foods projected thus as shiny images in lusciousness had been worked out such by very definite elements in styling. That though isn’t just a 1900s thing with the effectiveness of such employment in non naturalness finding expression even today in bombarding us with copious numbers of food images staring at us in such ironic again display of menacing appeal that one cannot but absolutely yield in to the desire of.
This manifestation in the tastebuds tingling trills of what food, mostly fast food is made to appear as presents instead a wholly different aspect of what is essentially a life sustaining necessity. With everything from food still substitutes passing off as something different than what they are in reality to relying instead on altogether inedible ingredients aesthetically the most delible though, photographing food tends to play upon as much on the element of style as any other type of commercial photography. But while this might be the case in many food scenarios even today, this at one time ruling dimension of food photography did somewhat begin to wean out during the closing years of the 1990s.
With naturalism managing to gain popularity as the factor that made food photographs classify as brilliant outside their boisterousness, the extravagant theatrics of clicking and capturing food through the lens found lesser and lesser acclaim in this evolutionary journey of food photography that once again points to the aesthetics deciphering ultimate glory in the prevalence of the basics. Cut to times of the new millennium and everything from lighting and angle and vision and purpose and props and the setup are explored in the minute details of them. Today, food photography is a complex process in heightening the awareness of the senses and intensifying its reception in impeccable capturing of reality but at the same time it also is as casual and simplistic a mode in relaying to the world one’s possession of not just the tastebuds but also an eye for food.
So multifarious is the arena into which food photography has expanded specifically in the currentness of its context that it is impossible to limit it to being only an art in pursuing. At consideration would also be a passion that one might harbour more in regard to food itself even as truer photography enthusiasts too very often display a unsurmountable extent of finesse in their capturing of the driving force of life. And in between them all, there exists also the not so food fancying neither very much photographically inclined mortals, for whom clicking pictures of their food and uploading them on social media is a recipe either in gratification or validation or at most times, both.
Of course there are associated ‘advantages’ too of being visible on these digital platforms with food as the featuring favorite destined to bring in the likes and the loves and the lits and the reviews as a real measure of a not so real popularity. But it isn’t just about posting attention grabbing images of even the most simple food that is the only thing that counts in attempting to decipher the mind boggling reach that photographing food manages to attain to lend its creators a taste of success.
As something that counts as one of the ultimate pleasures of life, both in its necessity as well as in indulgence, food has always been the common something that binds us together. And to explore this universal language in living through as universal a mode of portraying in perfection that photography allows one to pursue makes for a delicious indeed prospect in savoring. No wonder today food blogging is all the rage and with such delightful curations in all things food not just of the stimulating kind but also steeped in the essence of what makes it up, be it the ethnic use of ingredients or the traditional manner of serving as well as also the goodness and nutrition imbibed within, this more than decadent documentation of food appeals to one and all in their authenticity. Not to overlook however the appealing quotient of the looks as well and those palatable plates of piquances and stylish servings of sinfulness and dazzling dishes of decadence or even the most modest of morsels and the most magnificent of meals stir indeed the forever feisty human desire for food whether in adhering to the luxury of gourmet indulgence or attending instead as efficiently to the no lesser pronounced cravings for exotic flavours and genuine tastes and indeed also to the everyday fancying of something worthwhile to bite into and relish and savour the every experience of its eating and food photography today is a whole different expanse of expression in epicurean excellence availed out of the humongous appetite for exploring that photography feeds into.