Food Culture. The why that should be your focus on food photography.

It's not that I forgot to write actual stories on this blog, it is that I prefer to put them all on my Exposure site since they are photo intense.  This post is more written word driven, however that is no excuse as this is supposed to be my photography portfolio work.

When you look at your instagram feed (add me!) you see a plethora of instagrams of what someone made or ate.  Being a food and culture photographer, I do it too, not judging just saying.  A lot of amazing looking food that has been made and about to be eaten.  At least I hope will be eaten.  Please don't waste your food. 

Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa from my story, "Illegal Food."

Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa from my story, "Illegal Food."

My question for you though, and to those who take those pictures, do you know the story behind the food you are taking a picture of?  Have you asked or tried to listen to the story of the people behind it?  That is something more important to have photographed then just the meal itself- the personal story of how that food you just bought or made to your mouth.  More and more, food publications are running photographs of just the food as if our attention is only on the dish or what food is trending this season.  Instead of the people who made the food.  Not just that celebrity chef that everyone is gawking over, but there needs to be more images and stories of the people who help make it possible.  The growers, pickers, butchers, all the way to the waiter/waitress to just put the meal down for you to enjoy.

Tim Weckerle working for the Weckerlys Ice Cream at a night market inPhiladelphia.

Tim Weckerle working for the Weckerlys Ice Cream at a night market inPhiladelphia.

When I look at some of the latest trends in food and styling, it looks more like food is being put on a "pedestal" or is so deconstructed that I start to wonder is this food or an art set piece?  Don't get me wrong, I think the ones I have seen are beautiful and everyone has their own vision of food.  I just pursue food photography, differently, where culture plays a bigger role than art.  That sounds like a cop out. Food journalism and photography, along with many other forms of writing and photography as a living, is a privilege

David of Seoulfull Philly food truck.

David of Seoulfull Philly food truck.

I had a brief discussion with a friend food writer about this as well, and she brought up the fact that privilege, hinders the diversity of food and travel writing.  The way I see it, when food is photographed in a way that it looks like it being put on a pedestal, I see privilege.  But when I read and see images and stories that include the history and story of the people behind said dish, I see the writer/photographer trying to further his/her understanding of that dish is being made and how it got to them to document.  

If you ever asked why my portfolio looks more of the people who prepped, made, and brought out the food than just the food itself, it is because I think food photographs are about the people behind the dish.