Photos&Food: Antonella Bozzini (part III)
Dress your kitchen
Antonella, a great master of Italian food photography, has a simple but nonetheless thrilling style employing lucid technical know-how directly and without artifice to create unexpected effects.
What would you like to experiment with more in food photography, Antonella?
“I could experiment more with use of light. Rather than using a very soft, diffuse light, for instance, I might use more less descriptive grids to create a more crude or violent effect on a dish. But the chef may not agree! My job is to convey what the chef has achieved: I am a go-between, and I express what the chef wants to express.”
How do you use light?
“I use light descriptively, to describe what I am photographing. But I also attempt to call up emotions with light, for light can call up different emotions in the viewer depending on how it is used.”
How important is the set in which you portray the product or dish?
“Not very important, really. I suppose it might be important in terms of how it suggests I might take the photograph, though I often take a close-up of the dish. But when I am asked to represent the story behind a restaurant or a chef, location makes a big difference.”
What kind of frame do you prefer?
“This is dictated by what I need to photograph. Plan views are very fashionable today. When I first started taking pictures of food you couldn’t use plan views: the editors would kick you off the staff! It’s partly a fad, and partly because chefs are working a lot on the horizontal plane, so it’s less important to take the photo at 45 degrees the way we used to do. Chefs are working more and more on the dish as if it were a canvas, with splashes and brushstrokes, Jackson Pollock style. These are very graphic, two-dimensional dishes, in terms of composition.”
What do you think are your qualities as a food photographer?
“I love food. I love the kitchen, the little-known circumstances that lie behind the creation of a dish, the outstanding food products produced in various regions of Italy. My job has led me to discover a whole new Italy.”
Food photography can also tell stories. What kind of story do you like to tell most often?
“I don’t know whether the image alone can tell a story. I think food photography still needs words. My pictures take people to the start of the story, but then they need another storyteller, such as the chef himself, who often describes his dish in words, or the food reporter or food blogger. And then the person who will be eating the dish starts to sample the various flavours, and this brings out a series of stories that the dish already has within it. Food often takes you on a voyage in time, in the emotions and memories of the people you have been close to. I am thinking of doing a project on precisely this theme....”
Photographs: Antonella Bozzini