Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
James Spencer, Interim Director
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
You Are What You Eat is a photographic portrait series drawing visual parallels between food and people. Each portrait consists of not one, but two separate images – a person and the food they resemble. The series pays homage to portrait photography and food photography but is defined by neither.
Each pairing is based on physical attributes of the food subject and human model. For example, the freckled face of a man is side by side with a sesame seed bagel, the pattern and coloring of both mirroring each other. Likewise, a tall, thin girl is perfectly posed to resemble an asparagus spear.
As I elaborate on the process and considerations behind each image, I will refer to each by a title combining the featured food and the first name of the model. For example, the image of the girl and the asparagus spear is called Asparagus + Julianna.
All ten pairings needed to maintain a visual consistency. To achieve a uniform aesthetic, all pictures were photographed against a white background. Through lighting techniques and some post processing, the backgrounds were made nearly pure white so that they would not have a discernable border when printed. Other color adjustments were made in Photoshop to enhance the connection between the subject and the model. The green in the skirt of Asparagus + Julianna was tweaked to better match the hue of the asparagus spear. The sweater of the model in Orange + Aaron was yellow before I adjusted the tone to compliment the vibrant color of the orange. Similar steps were taken in Marshmallow + Carly, Cauliflower + Doug, and Lollipop + Renee.
The pairings are clever and lighthearted but nonetheless spark contemplation in the viewer. Their mind is still on the pairings even once their eyes have left it. They will have an altered perspective on every person they pass throughout the day. Suddenly, they’ll notice that their mother looks exactly like a pear while their best friend resembles a cupcake. Every food will take on new meaning as well. Who do they know that looks like spaghetti?
The power of these images is in their ability to subtlety alter one’s perception of the two most ubiquitous features of their day – people and food.
Carrick, Danielle, "You Are What You Eat: Photographic Portrait Series" (2011). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 204.
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