When/how did 'blurry porn' photography of food become the norm?
August 30, 2006 6:52 PM   Subscribe

When/how did 'blurry porn' photography of food become the norm?

There seems to be a rule in place that all photographs of food in magazines must be shot from a very particular perspective and with the back end of the food blurred ever so slightly (sorry, I'm not a photography buff so I don't know the technical terms). It's kinda porny, in a Penthouse shot-through-gauze kinda way. Check out Cooking Light magazine (or any given photo on www.cookinglight.com) for examples thereof. This seems to have started at some point in the 90's. Any ideas as to how this concept started, and when? Was it borrowed from porn, did it come from fashion photography or filter in from avant-garde art?
posted by mattholomew to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
From a slate article about food photography, by Sarah Dickerman:

For much of the '90s, and into this decade, the prevailing technique has been to feature close-ups of sunlit (or artificially sunlit) food in highly selective focus, meaning one part of, say, a piece of pie, was in focus, while the background dropped out of clarity...This style was a boon for food photographers and stylists, who could fudge off-looking bits of a photograph by dropping them out of focus. (Emphasis mine)
posted by Iridic at 6:56 PM on August 30, 2006


It came from macro lenses getting way cheaper.
posted by fshgrl at 7:28 PM on August 30, 2006


On the Media did a piece (mp3) on how the Food Network's cinematography is borrowed from the porn industry. Different medium, but you may find some inspiration.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:44 PM on August 30, 2006


Transcript of the On the Media piece.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:51 PM on August 30, 2006


FWIW, the blur is due to something called Depth of Field. 'Normal' point-and-shoot digicams normally can't replicate this effect too well because of how narrow their lens/sensor is, but SLR-based cameras do.

Another reason it's used (not necessarily just in the food industry) is to isolate the subject from the background. It keeps your eyes from wandering around the background.
posted by fogster at 8:07 PM on August 30, 2006


Was it borrowed from porn, did it come from fashion photography or filter in from avant-garde art?

No, not really, and no.

Photography goes through fads like anything else. Food photography requires an exceptionally large bag of tricks and a nearly obsessive-compulsive personality to manage all the minutia, and selectively restricting the depth of field enables the photographer to fudge the details. And it's all about the details in food photography. Just to give you a small taste of what I mean: water droplets on "cold" beers are actually a glycerin+water mix, ice-cream is usually sculpted dry ice, ice is just blocks of acrylic, motor oil is a good substitute for syrup, cereal shots use elmer's glue for milk, meats are nearly-raw and covered with food coloring or wood stain, etc.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:38 PM on August 30, 2006


Some of us do like to take food photos of real food with point n' click cameras, however. :)

But yes, it's a DoF thing. Some people think it keeps unnecessary things out of focus.
posted by madman at 1:44 AM on August 31, 2006


!

I was noticing this exact thing yesterday when I was copy editing for a local magazine. They do that with their food photos—and on the lower-quality printed proofs, it makes the photos look completely Photoshopped.
posted by limeonaire at 7:02 AM on August 31, 2006


Real, unedited pictures of food is usually kinda gross looking. Everything looks all sweaty and oil-slicked most of the time.
posted by electroboy at 8:03 AM on August 31, 2006


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