Milan-born food photographer Alessandro Guerani describes himself as a photographer who also loves cooking. He confesses that although he is "very precise and punctilious" on a photo set, he balances this out by being "terribly messy with pots and ladles" in the kitchen. Here, he talks to us about the quiet revolution in food photography that he has witnessed over the past few years.
Up until very recently, food photography was a branch, and not one of great importance, of the still life genre. The images had mostly a "technical" or a "documentary" approach, but nonetheless the overall style was very realistic without many trills and frills. The food image was created strictly to provide in a straightforward way the result of a published recipe or the appearance of the advertised product.
Only in the last few years, food photography has been raised to its own specialized branch of imagery. This happened because food in the mind of the audience has shifted from a mere means of nourishment to something that provides inner satisfaction, emotions and also social status. Food photographers began applying the various techniques used for years by fashion photographers to create and provide images that inspire these concepts in the audience.
If you examine a good quality, modern, food image you should notice how its setting, lighting and composition became of paramount importance in conveying emotions to the viewer. It's not that realism or supply of information about the subject are no longer important, it's rather that they aren't considered sufficient nowadays for a food image to fulfil its scope.
Beauty is as essential as information today. There has been a revolution in food photography and as with every revolution this brought about a complete upheaval within the food photography style, with Australia leading the race. A complete change of the working methods and the rise of the importance of prop styling has added a completely new approach to food styling.
The end result is that the modern food image sells a lifestyle, not just a recipe or a product. We food photographers are compelled to produce imagery that "stands out" in a communication world that is every day more and more visually based and driven (Pinterest anyone?). Technical prowess is no longer enough.Specialization is now the key, as is having a good team with whom to work. Be very open to genre contamination and acquire a good knowledge of other visual arts.
All photography copyright Alessandro Guerani