Before the days of blogs and entire Instagram accounts dedicated to the wonderful world of food — documenting food was left to professional photographers, who, through careful decision making and curating captured the culinary delights for cookbooks, advertisments, and art.
Just as food consumption has changed over the years, so has the way societies plate, present, and document food.
In the new book, Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography, author Susan Bright explores chronologically the way food has been photographed since the 19th century with over 200 photographs. Ahead, 15 stunning images from the book that show how drastically food photography has shifted since then.
In the book, Bright acknowledges the importance that food has on culture. “Food can signify a lifestyle or a nation, hope or despair, hunger or excess” she writes. Here, an elaborate still life of various native fruit taken in Sri Lanka in 1860 was sold as a souvenir to naval, military, bureaucratic, and merchant visitors.
This postcard, which is manipulated to depict over-sized eggs and potatoes in a car, play on the idea of American abundance. “Food is the perfect way to suggest wealth and plenty, and cards such as these did their part to promote the myth of a rural American utopia,” writes Bright.
Color photographs began appearing in the early 1900s, and photographer Wladimir Schohin explored the complex process of autochrome, which used potato starch to help create the color.