I am by no means a food photographer but I love food. I love photographing people and telling their stories through images that capture their spirit. I have to get to know them and I have to wait for it – the exact right time, the right moment, the look in their eye that shows themselves to me.
Food to me is a central part of everyone’s story. The stories that I try to tell. If I ask someone about their favourite dish or restaurant, their most memorable meal, their eyes will light up and they will tell me with great fervour the details that they remember. Their eyes glaze over or they wave their hands around in excitement the way I do. Sometimes salivating with the sheer memory of deliciousness!
It is so easy to travel these days that cuisines collide, people are influenced from all over the world in the dishes that they prepare. Someone who has lived in many countries takes their mother’s favourite dish with them from country to country, as it is a piece of home. When this happens, they share the story of the dish, the way it was prepared and the love that goes with it to friends who sit at their table.
Food is central to someone’s heritage and no matter how well travelled you are or how many restaurants you go to, there is still something so precious about being invited to share a meal at home. I recently went to visit a friend, and upon leaving, was gifted a box of sweets. My friend is from France, most recently moving from Paris, but the box of sweets was prepared by his mother, who is from Algeria.
The joy that was on his face when he gifted me this box was unmistakable. He was not only proud of his mother but the memories associated with this box of handmade cookies he had eaten his whole childhood, lovingly home made. As he named each cookie, asking me the equivalent of the world in English (one translated to gazelles horns!), I was able to see his childhood and his heritage, just through him describing each cookie. If I had a camera in my hand it would have been the perfect capture, the history – the joy – the memories.
Food is such an amazing way to create memories, to tell stories, to remember the past and to share it forward, it delights me no end. I have so much respect for extraordinary food photographers as it is not an easy task, but to me, it’s the story that goes with the food, the people, and how it was made, how it affected them and the happiness that it brings them. It’s the stories that go with the food that I like to tell.
PS I would have loved to photograph this gorgeous box of cookies however they were all eaten in my house by the time I got around to writing this piece! Good food waits for no one… I’ll be quicker next time!