As a part of my Food and Visual Culture course at Boston University’s Gastronomy program, I attended a Food Styling workshop at Parachute Studios with Nina Gallant. My team selected this image as our final photo, and I wanted to share our analysis of it with you.
As my partner and I set up this photoshoot, we envisioned a clear target audience for our final product: an editorial magazine spread on citrus-focused summer cocktails. Drawing from a tray full of whole citrus (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, clementines, and one blood orange) and a packet of mint sprigs, we chose a blue/green/gray linen napkin (freshly ironed) spread over our ash wood surface. We chose this spoon as the most prominent prop because it resembles a swizzle stick one would grab off a bar cart for use in the crafting of a refreshing citrus cocktail.
We took dozens of photos, but this was my favorite –
I like the textures in this image – the roughspun linen, the cool metallic spoon, the rumbled hand-thrown pottery, and the smooth ash surface in the far back of the picture. I also like the vibrancy of the cut-open citrus, with the clementine sliced pole to pole but the blood orange cut around the equator so we can see the segments. The mint is coy and understated but I think it makes for an aromatic image. This shoot was intensely aromatic (between the cut citrus peels and the slapped mint leaves) and I hope that carries through in the image.The focal point is clearly the citrus in this image, but after the viewer takes stock of the cut fruit, their eyes might wander up or down in the image. In the far distance, the viewer can spot other citrus fruits, awaiting the same fate? Blemished beyond use?
But if their eyes slide down the image, they will spot the spoon. The unforgiving torqued metal handle is a chilling counterpoint to the cheery citrus sunrise. Finally, in the bowl of the spoon, the viewer finds a funhouse reflection of themselves (or at least, of the photographers). This says to me that you can’t take yourself out of your food – you can’t tell a story about citrus without telling a story about yourself.
Lead photo credit: Mollie Braen