Where is my current practice?
My area of interest is food photography. This genre of photography has a particular ability to appeal to me, to grab my attention – something resonates with me.
Food photography is ubiquitous with the majority of photographs being made to support recipes and, consequently, existing almost exclusively in recipe books and magazines. Comparatively, very few images are made to exist in their own right – as pieces of art.
Initially, the images I made fell into this category. OK, they were taken by me to be photographs of interest, the intention being for people to look at the images for their visual appeal and not purely to see how a recipe might or should turn out. But, the style was conforming to the generic “commercial” formula.
I want my photography to develop. I want my work to progress to a point where it successfully occupies a niche: to be different, unique, attention grabbing, visually appealing, going beyond a mere commercial brief.
It is my belief that images of food can, and should, exist as standalone works of art with a beauty and appeal of their own. To be different and make this kind of image has been a conscious choice.
I think I have found some success in being able to previsualise the images I want to make and subsequently achieve this vision – even if my images had a more “editorial” style in the early days.
Being self-critical isn’t something that comes easily to me. I know when I am satisfied with an image and it is of a standard where I am happy to look at my image myself and to share it with others. I also know when I am not. However, this has generally been an instinctive feeling as opposed to something rationalised and related to critical thinking.
So, being self-critical is something I have had to work at. Have my images “suffered” as a result, or more correctly, has my photographic progress and development been retarded by that?
Very possibly. And that is a weakness I am addressing.
How do I see my photography progressing?
First and foremost, I think it is important that I learn from my failures as much as I do from my successes. Ambiguity can be a good thing because, if you accept it, it forces you to interrogate things more thoroughly.
Elaborating on that, the feedback from the first assignments was most enlightening and has given me a considerable amount to think about.
With that in mind, I plan to continue to explore the knowledge and techniques used by the great masters to produce their amazing still-life images. This investigation will concentrate on three specific areas: the techniques and equipment they used to control light, their knowledge of compositional techniques, and their use of symbolism and their sources of knowledge for this.
Will this help me to successfully occupy a niche? On its own, possibly not and a lot would depend on execution.
I certainly think that this will help me to occupy a niche. My intention is to develop my storytelling ability. Yes, I want to produce beautiful images which have their own visual appeal, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be devoid of meaning.
Food is absolutely essential to our existence, that much is obvious but what may not be so obvious is that we seem to treat our food as a very “disposable” commodity – something largely taken for granted, the way we produce it and consume it (or not) raises some ethically complex issues.
Combining the results of my investigations into the work of the Dutch masters with subject matter which explores our relationship with food, using the former to support the latter, will allow me to produce images which are unique in their nature.
Additionally, I will experiment with post-production techniques with a view to giving my images a “painterly” aesthetic and have a plan to do this which includes, for example, the use of textures, underlays and overlays.
I have a target market in mind and I am researching this further, clarifying and defining the “audience” for my work. Additionally, I am researching how notable photographers have successfully defined their target market and subsequently presented their offerings.
Morris, 2016. Still-life with Citrus Fruit
Morris, 2016. Still-life with Orange and Walnuts
Morris, 2016. Tomato Soup