As a craft geek, I'm always interested in process. If you want to babysit me, just leave me with a marathon of one of those basic cable TV shows that take you on factory tours. I could watch twinkies being wrapped or paintballs being made alllllll day.
Today's New York Times had a great article on the art (and artifice) of tabletop food videography. I knew a lot of this stuff--I've even visited the studio of a master food photographer, but I instantly found myself in "How Stuff Works" mode. Substituting lard for ice cream to avoid melting under bright cameras? $500 custom-made silicone "ice" cubes? Fork glue? Hypodermic sauce dripping needles? Bring 'em on! Here's my favorite passage:
“Food has to be in motion to have character,” says Alex Fernbach, another Budin acolyte, who now works at Arf & Company, a studio in Hoboken, N.J. “It gives food a personality.”
It also gives prop men a challenge. Like Ed Fountain, who builds food-tossing devices in a large, cluttered workshop in Mr. Schrom’s studio.
“We recently did a shot where this doughnut was tumbling through the air and through a curtain of sugar,” he said. As he spoke, he reached under a table and brought out a pair of matching, foot-and-a-half-long black catapults, powered by air cylinders, which he’d originally built for a Long John Silver’s commercial in which shrimp collided.
“I put the doughnut in here,” he says, pointing to the end of one catapult. “And I had it strike a paintbrush to get it tumbling. Then I connected it to a device that bumped a table and sent up the sugar right as the doughnut passed through.”
You could throw the doughnut by hand, he explained. But with a rig, as everyone in this industry calls these little Rube Goldbergs, you get the exact same results, over and over, which means fewer takes.
That's what I'm talkin' about! My wife asked if I could possibly imagine spending all of my time building contraptions like donut trebuchets. I had to honestly answer with an enthusiastic YES! Then she asked how a person even finds themself on career trajectory like that. I think I know the answer. ART SCHOOL!
SO. If you'd like to pull back the curtain on the food porn industry, read the whole article HERE. Your life will be completely complete when you learn about the proper way to photographically showcase a nugget of fried chicken or strands of gooey cheese. Let 'em fly!
This body of work was created during a Summer 2010 residency at the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China. These porcelain vessels explore traditional Chinese iconography as refracted through a decidedly Western point of view.