I had no idea what I was going to photograph yesterday. Some fleeting thoughts about meandering through a park occurred to me early on in the day, but were quickly pushed out of the way when the opportunity to go to a movie with Dylan arose. So much for Tuesday’s thoughts about priorities. By late afternoon I was just waiting for a photographic moment to come up and kick me in the shins, which is exactly what I tell my students not to do. I say all this stuff about going out and finding photographs in the world around you and being an active participant in the photographic process. And I mean it, I really do. I just forgot yesterday, that’s all. Then, when I least expected it, inspiration came breezing through in the form of my early evening snack.
Yep, it all started with an apple (which seems like a highly biblical statement as well, but I don’t really mean for it to be that loaded). I was pretty happy to find this apple actually, seeing as how I didn’t think we had any left and I was craving apple slices and peanut butter something fierce. So maybe that’s why I decided to photograph it; I can’t really say where the impetus came from to be honest. I thought I’d take a few, quick shots of the apple and then maybe some other shots later in the evening. I mean, I had snacking to get to, ladies and gents. But then this happened:
It isn’t totally unusual for me to photograph my food though. About three or four years ago, I made a cookbook as part of a school project. I tried out different recipes, wrote about the process and photographed the results. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed food photography, but really I shouldn’t have been. Cooking and baking have long been interests of mine, as has photography. Combining the two should be fun, and it really is. I just haven’t done a lot of it in the years that have elapsed between my cookbook project and my experiments this summer.
Once I had freed the apple slices from the corer/slicer tool, it was like having my own mini-still life. My little white cutting board provided a nice contrast to the dark background and was also neutral. Color does play an important role in food photography. The food is your subject matter, therefore, you don’t want it competing with a lot. If you have busy china patterns or countertops or the colors of these things clash with the food, it can spell disaster. It always good to be mindful of the things that inhabit the backgrounds of your photos, but I find it of special import in food photography.
This is my favorite shot from the day, I think because of the way the apple core just peeks into the photo at the bottom right. The angle of the stem seems to give it a little personality, too. A shallow depth of field (which is why it’s in strong focus in the front and the apples behind it are blurry) give a nice contrast between the fore and back grounds. The only problem? That really was my last apple and now I’m going to need to buy more as this post has made me hungry.