Another great connection was made thanks to Twitter. Tara O’Brady of Seven Spoons is doing something I love about the internet (and blogs) which is telling and showing a slice of her life in southern Ontario. It’s also great to read the stories that accompany the recipes. I think that, in a way, gives more life to a recipe.
Q. Can you tell me what you’re trying to capture when you take your food photos?
A. For me the photos on my site, my aim is really straightforward – I hope to capture a sense of the food as it was, in the setting it was in on the day I made it, or the day we ate it. I don’t mind that you can tell if it was cloudy and stormy, or the difference between summer light and winter light – if that’s how things looked, then so be it. I appreciate the context of that. The highest compliment I can receive is someone saying they look at the photos and feel they’re at my table.
Q. Have you always been interested in photography? If not, when and why did you start?
A. I have always been interested in photographs, but I wasn’t always the photographer in my family. My brother came to it first, I think. My work in the past dealt with photography peripherally, but it was only when I started writing about food that I really started taking photographs.
Q. What is photography to you?
A. It sounds super-pretentious, and I don’t mean it to be, but when I was in school and studied Matisse and Delacroix, their assertion that “exactitude wasn’t [their] truth” always stuck with me. It may be a convenient excuse for the limits of my abilities, but I’m not always trying to represent a schematic of a recipe. If, say, it’s the texture of the pastry that makes a pie exceptional, than I’m happy to concentrate on a corner where the crust shattered. There will be a shot of the whole pie, but it’s that crumbly bit that I hope you’ll remember.
Q. In your bio, you said you’re currently living in southern Ontario. I’m not familiar with southern Ontario besides knowing that Toronto is there. What is the food scene like and does living where you are affect your work?
A. I live outside Toronto, close enough to feel its influence but far away enough to be a considered a bit small town. This way, we get the best of both worlds. We’re surrounded by fields, living smack in the middle of farmland and vineyards. It’s hard not to be greedily enthusiastic about this place when the fruit and vegetable stands pop up in spring and the farmer’s market is bustling. We are lucky to have local chefs and producers doing amazing things with all that bounty – you don’t have to venture far to find inspiration … and a yummy snack.
Q. Any food photography heroes? If not any photography heroes?
A. Gosh, so many. Many of which have been mentioned here. Ditte Isager is brilliant with shadows and texture; her images are tactile and have striking depth. Christopher Hirsheimer’s does rustic beauty so well, with an elegant, easy looseness. He’s a pal, but nonetheless I must mention Michael Graydon. I won’t say much, because it’ll sound slanted, but check him out and you’ll understand. I really like Jeff Lipsky’s food photography, and I was recently introduced to Anais Wade and Dax Henry’s work – they do stunning stuff.
Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duiguid’s cookbooks, from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet on especially, are sort of my dream books. Along with the in-studio photographs by Richard Jung, those books convey an immediacy I can’t explain. They evoke such a specific sense of place and circumstance, and the food looks downright amazing.
Q. Best meal so far in 2011?
A. Darn, it’s the end of the year, so it’s especially difficult to choose just one. Hmm. In October my husband and I ate at Proof on Main in Lousiville, Kentucky. Tucked in a corner seat of the bustling room, the night was a treat from start to finish. I may have clapped my hands when I read that they had roasted marrow bones – a childhood favourite that I associate with my mother – and theirs did not disappoint. The meal bounced along from there; Chef Michael Paley’s food is awfully clever, yet flavour never takes a backseat to wit.
It was the last night of our trip and a fitting goodbye to the south.
All photos courtesy of Tara O’Brady from Seven Spoons.