Sex, Food and Photography.

28 Nov

Written and photographed by Rebekah Peppler
As you read, please enjoy my current fetishes throughout…
Giada, Nigella and Rachael are all doing it, heck even Thomas Keller is doing it. It glistens, it envelops, it’s like velvet on the tongue. Are we talking about the same thing here?

The phrase “food porn” sauntered into the spotlight via Frederick Kaufman’s aptly titled article, “Debbie does salad the Food Network at the frontiers of pornography.” Originally published in 2005 by Harper’s Magazine, the term quickly vaulted into our vocabulary through the likes of Anthony Bourdain and has definitively, and lasciviously, stuck.

In Kaufman’s piece he works with a photographer (who based much of her career in the porn industry) to compare the striking parallels between porn films and Food Network shows. Especially startling is the analysis of camera techniques. Imagine Giada with her beguiling smile and trademark low-cut top squeezing a lemon – close-up on the curvaceous, dripping lemon, then Giada, back to the lemon – you get the picture.

Besides television’s seductive presentation of food, there’s the good old-fashioned photography. Not that we’re complaining. Who doesn’t love a beautiful shot of food? Whose lips do not part slightly while peering at the perfect composed covers of Saveur, Gourmet, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit?

A still of freshly-made pasta coaxed into shapely tortellini or a close-up of a juicy burger, cheese dripping off the perfectly formed patty onto its unfailingly plump bun. These shots are products of an ideal trifecta of light, focus and composition. Since food porn is a delight to sit back and enjoy as well as actively participate in (as I do on an markedly frequent basis) here’s a few starter tips:

1. Lighting is key. More precisely, natural lighting is key. Think of the sexiest times of day and use those as your ideal times to shoot. Morning’s hazy sun, slinking through the shades or early evening’s sultry shadow creeping into to steal the day away are both perfect moments to capture your creation on film.

2. Focus on something special in your piece. Isn’t it true that the small – sometimes lacy – details make all the difference? Whether it be the tip of that perfect berry atop your tartlette or the ripple of molten chocolate ganache languidly making it’s way down the edge of that triple chocolate layer cake, spotlight that special something and narrow your focus to get up close and personal.

3. Compose your piece to bring your viewer right in there with you. Take a bite out of that vivacious red velvet cupcake, leave just a few crumbs of a cookie lingering on the plate. Let your viewer feel like they could use their finger to swipe up the leftovers or finish what you started. Leave something to the imagination (just because it’s – food – porn doesn’t mean it can’t be a bit classy right?) Crop out the end of that croissant, remove a basket of overflowing tomatoes from the table full of them. Leave it up to the viewer to fill in the gaps – you know they want to.

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