For as long as there has been art, there have been still lifes. And for as long as there have been still lifes, there have been portraits of food. Last week I spoke on the phone with Larry Nighswander, photography director at Saveur, to learn more about the history of food photography, and he put it plainly: "Food seems to be a central part of family life and social events. ... And I think it's only natural that photographers gravitated to documenting that activity."
Nowadays it seems like everyone is a food photographer. Or maybe it has always been a popular pastime, and now there are just more people armed with cameras. "Tasteful Pictures," an exhibition currently at The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, provides a historical look at food in photography.
The photos are drawn from the Getty's permanent collection, and represent an all-star cast of photographers: Edward Weston, Man Ray, Weegee, William Eggleston and more. It may be a bit of a stretch to say that there's great significance in Edward Quigley's peas or Eggleston's freezer. For the most part, they were experimenting — and photographing pretty much everything.
But the collection of photos is still a nice celebration of food and, if anything, shows how far we digital-camera-yielding, blog-posting photographers have come.
See also: Color Sells: Nickolas Muray's Food Photography, and stay tuned for more from Saveur.
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