Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

An-My Lê

Abstract/Artist's Statement

NECESSARY PLEASURE: New Food Photography

Hungry? If it’s time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you probably are, and you better start planning where and when you will be eating your next meal. The act of eating is a universal obligation for all people, which is why it has such a powerful cultural influence. I chose food as the subject for my senior project because, like photography, cooking is one of my greatest passions, and I believe that we are fortunate that our principal necessity can also be fantastically pleasurable.

Food is not a new or unfamiliar photographic subject. More often than not, our daily task of choosing of what to eat is based initially on sight, whether the choice is being made in a grocery store, at a restaurant, or in a kitchen. Therefore it is understandable as to why society bombards us with visually stimulating images of edible products, from fast food billboards and commercials to the professionally arranged home-cooked meals of the Martha Stewart magazines. Yet does our cuisine really have to be airbrushed and edited to be beautiful? In this body of work, I aim to show that food in its natural state can be enticing and elegant without being stylized.

However, my relationship to food runs deeper than a simple love of the art of cooking paired with the medium of photography. My past consists of a series of various eating disorders, but this project is centered around my particular compulsive eating habits and food addiction. To our bodies, food is like a drug in that its composition of fats, sugars, and proteins control our brain chemicals and endorphin levels. Food is my drug of choice, to the point where I am obsessive about each and every thing I ingest. My behavior fluctuates between intense self-restraint and drastically unhealthy eating habits, with a fanatic enthusiasm for sweets and candy. Dealing with this addiction is particularly difficult because food is a drug that you can’t just quit.

And that’s where this project fits in, as photography gives me the ability to freeze my reality, take a step back, and look at food as synonymous with art. Turning cooking, particularly cooking for others, into a craft and not a chore, has given me the drive to use my senior project to show others how complicated our relationship to food can be. Eating is such a common and obligatory act that it is easy to forget that each person has a unique and individual relationship to it.

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