Photographing The Food We Eat : The Picture Show The person behind the photos in New York magazine's "Eat Cheap" guide has a documentary approach to food.
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Photographing The Food We Eat

I was looking through New York magazine's "Eat Cheap 2010" list and couldn't help but note the photography. It's just about the furthest thing from what you'd see in the pages of Saveur, for example. These photos are in-your-face and unattractively attractive; like a dinner table you'd actually find in real life, which may not be beautiful, but can still be alluring. Lately I've noticed this style in other magazines and especially on blogs — the low-fi, no-frills documentary approach. That's what characterizes Julia Gillard's personal series, "Feast."

She's the person behind New York's "Eat Cheap" visuals.

Vernacular, in a word, would be Gillard's photographic mantra. "I photograph food as a way to look at and document the emotion and ceremony of our national appetite," she wrote in an e-mail. Her "Feast" series is devoted entirely to America's relationship with food. Which, let's face it, isn't always pretty. In Gillard's words:

My goal is always the same — to record the sociology of the place where I am. I am inspired by many things; while photographing I am usually drawn to plain or simple things that are actually, upon further inspection, more complex — emotionally, culturally, politically, etc. I am also very inspired by color. With my photographs I hope to record and share the social climate of this time in history, not in a straightforward way that a photojournalist might, but rather in a more vague and open-ended way. It turns out that food has been a very rich subject from which to study our country's social psychology.

On that note, check out this story in which Chris Kimball of PBS' "America's Test Kitchen" shares his favorite potluck recipes. And see more of Gillard's work on her website.