Photographer Carl Warner creates miniature worlds crafted entirely of food, textiles or other objects and then photographs them. Today I want to share with you his Foodscapes, as he calls them. Meat mountains, broccoli trees, cabbage seas, chocolate rivers and cereal leaves are just some of the fun elements in the dioramas. Made with most things edible, the landscapes and buildings have obvious commercial applications, but some are just as appetizing to gaze upon. He even sells photographic prints of them (links to purchase the prints, a book and the new wall calendar are at the end of this post).
About creating his Foodscapes, Carl says:
The ‘Foodscapes’ are created in Carl’s London studio where they are built on top of a large purpose built triangular table top. The scenes are photographed in layers from foreground to background and sky as the process is very time consuming and so the food quickly wilts under the lights. Each element is then put together in post production to achieve the final image.
“Although I’m very hands on with my work, I do use model makers and food stylists to help me create the sets. I tend to start with a drawing which I sketch out in order to get the composition worked out, this acts as a blue print for the team to work to.”
Once the drawing is agreed upon, Carl then works out what each part of the scene will be made from, and working with his food stylist they together determine the best ingredients to work with in order to achieve his aims.
“I tend to draw a very conventional landscape using classic compositional techniques as I need to fool the viewer into thinking it is a real scene at first glance, it is the realisation that the scene is in fact made of food that brings a smile that brings a smile to the viewer, and for me that’s the best part”
Having worked for many years as a photographer bringing ideas to life for advertising agencies Carl became very experienced in lighting, and especially the recreation of natural looking light using a combination of tungsten and flash lighting equipment.
“I’ve always enjoyed the discipline of working in the studio, and the spontaneity of working outdoors in natural light, as you never know what you’re going to get. With my ‘Foodscapes’ I can now put together the knowledge of natural light with the control of recreating it in the studio in order to bring out the colours and textures as well as the beauty of a scene”
These images can take up to two or three days to build and photograph and then a couple of days retouching and fine tuning the images to blend all the elements together. Carl spends a lot of time planning each image before shooting in order to choose the best ingredients to replicate larger scale shapes and forms within nature, so he spends a lot of time staring at vegetables in supermarkets which makes him seem a little odd! However, he is careful to point out that finding the right shaped broccoli to use as a tree is an all important task.
“Although there is a fair amount of waste, there is a lot of food left over which is always shared out with the team, though most of the food used in the sets have either been super glued or pinned and none of this makes for good eating!”
Born in Liverpool, 1963 Carl has spent most of his life drawing and taking pictures. He has worked mainly in the advertising industry for the past twenty years, based at his London studio, and now lives with his long suffering wife and four children in the Kent countryside.
A book of his Food Landscapes was published last year and shows 'behind the scenes' pictures of Carl at work as well as descriptions in his own words of how they were inspired and created. And a new 2012 Wall Calendar featuring his Foodscapes is also available.
You can buy prints of some of his amazing Foodscapes here.
See all of his various types of photography at his website