Food is nourishing, comforting, and a portrait of another culture. Documenting the food that our mothers, fathers, spouses, siblings and, even, children make tells a history of the food from each recipe and ingredients from yesterday to today. My take on photographing food is simple, look for the best light then plate it, after it has been made.
Trying to understand where I fit in as a Vietnamese American led me on this long term food culture project- In Search of Little Saigon in America. My family came to America in 1975 along with many other refugees from Vietnam. Many of whom brought their cooking traditions with them to America, even if they came to America with just the clothes on their backs. I am setting out to document and share their story, as well as trying to discover how our food changed. In the links shared are the written narratives of this project that I have photographed and written.
To understand the culture and history behind our food, I look more into what's beyond the plate. Photographing the ones who grow, pick, butcher, prepare, cook, and brings the meal to the table is to celebrate them and their hard work. Their stories need to be shared along with the meals that they make.
With my hiking boots, camera, and sense of adventure, I traveled and documented what I saw and ate. Traveling should be encouraged and celebrated, as you can learn a lot about yourself and others as you travel. I know that is true for me.
To measure the vitality of a food culture and market in any given location, is to visit the local markets and street food. For most of American cities, our street food comes from food carts and trucks. During the summer season, cities have food fairs where many of the city's food trucks and carts come together and sell their food in one large venue.
Coffee is one of the most consumed commodity on Earth. That statement is supported both by statistics and by how much coffee I consume. Trying to get an understanding of the process of making coffee, from roasting to making the perfect cup, I went out to photograph the behind the scenes of coffee shops and the roasting. Being located by Philadelphia, I am surrounded by great coffee roasters and community. With America going through the 3rd wave of coffee, more and more Americans are getting their coffee from micro roasters. Not just buying and consuming the coffee, but also using the space that many of these shops as a place to get together, their work space, and trading ideas with one another.
I wanted to document what was involved creating food, to do that the obvious choice was to start at the very beginning. Some farms let me photograph their workers work, whereas others did not. In this series I photographed Doublebrook Farms and Cherry Grove Farms in New Jersey.
My thoughts put into words and photographs. Come travel and dine with me!