Sunday, December 26, 2010

FOODSCAPES: You've never seen food photography like this

Look closely.
What do you see?

Jackfruit, dragonfruit, broccoli, pineapples, breadcrumbs....

Stare at the images in wonderment about which parts of the landscape are digital, which are real and what types of food are used to create it.  Carl Warner produces fantastic landscapes, made entirely of actual food products...  Cliffs are made of sour dough bread, forests made of celery, oceans made of salmon, houses made of garlic.

I featured one of his pieces in the December/January holiday issue of Appetite magazine, but due to text limits, I couldn't do much but let the piece speak for itself (yet a beautiful last page of the December issue, I might add).

Here on Gastronommy though, I'd like to include a short Q+A with the creator, Carl Warner and show you some of his dazzling work.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Pleasant Deception

I spy cabbage skies...

Calling his work, "the pleasant deception," Carl Warner is a photographic artists who creates projects entirely out of food.

What inspired you to start working with food?
It’s the fact that it is an organic material that has such amazing similarities to the larger aspects of the natural world. Also it is something that people relate to easily and have a natural affinity with. I am also a big foodie, I love to eat well and dine out. Food is something we can all afford to be passionate about.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using food as art material?

The advantage is that there is such an incredible choice of ingredients in terms of shape, texture and colours. My palette is a three dimensional one which I can choose from around the globe.

The disadvantage is that it perishes and so we have to work very quickly, especially when creating a large scene and under hot studio lights. Certainly things like fresh herbs are a nightmare as they wilt and dry out before your eyes.

How do you come up with your landscape concepts?

I have sketchbooks full of ideas and drawings of details or wider scenes.  Inspiration can come from visiting a place or it in a film, on the web or in a magazine.  My inspiration can come from wandering around the supermarket or farmers market, or even in a restaurant.  I don't mind where they come from, so long as they come.

Once inspired, I pin it down on paper like Peter Pan's shadow being nailed down.  The drawing then becomes the blueprint for the shot which I show to my team, who then help me create the scene.

What is the average food budget?
Around a few hundred pounds (sterling), but this can vary depending on the size of the scene and how exotic the ingredients are.  Lobsters are going to cost a lot more than one scene made of cabbage.  There is also a lot more polystyrene in the scenes than food, and I have learned to build more with that in order to use less food.

How large are these landscapes?
They vary based on the scene.  I have a triangular table top which is about 12ft across the back, 9 ft deep.  The point nearest the camera is cut off so my foreground is only a couple feet across.  The table top is perfectly married up to the viewing angle of my wide angled lens.

Which was the most difficult image to create?

The most difficult is also my favorite, the Fishscape scene.  We had to get it all done in one day because of the smell.  Certain things I thought would work just didn't.  For example, the wake of the fishing boats didn't work with using small fish like sprats like I thought they would.  My food stylist saved the day by cutting sides of salmon and overlaying them onto the herring to form the wave patterns.  It's this kind of team effort with my food stylist and model maker that often pushes the work to a level that I hadn't expected.  It's exciting and rewarding.

What can we find in your new book?
The book is a culmination of the Foodscapes I have created over the last ten years together with several new scenes created especially for the book. It shows ‘behind the scenes’ shots of me and my team at work creating them, and I write about how they were inspired and conceived, showing the early sketches and the list of ingredients used in each image. I wanted the book to be more than just a coffee table book of ‘food pornography’ but a real insight into the processes of involved from initial idea to completed work.

He has also released a book recently, a compilation of all his food photography work over the past 10 years.  Just in time for Christmas.  Add that to my wishlist: Carl Warner Foodscapes


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