Mar 18, 2021
Eye-catching and grotesque are words not often placed together, but those descriptors are part of the charm and beauty in the still life and food photography of Emma Ressel. Ressel joins us on this episode of the B&H Photography Podcast to discuss her practice, which takes inspiration from, among other things, Dutch Master paintings and her own upbringing in Maine. We talk with Ressel about the evolution of her style and its attempt to balance the two related genres. In her fine art photography, food is a way to address the topics of death, time, and decay and her commercial photography of food, wine, and still life has been commissioned by New York Magazine, Refinery29, and other publications and clients.
Ressel works with both a 4 x 5" Toya medium format film camera and with a Nikon DSLR, and we find out why she chooses which system for each project. We also talk about her varied lighting choices and how she came to food photography not knowing much about professional workflows and food stylists and how that may have helped define her look. She is very hands-on with her work, and we discuss sourcing items as diverse as coral snakes and pig’s heads. We also consider issues of waste and overconsumption and how her work deals with those ideas within a commercial context that uses food for purposes not directly related to human sustenance. Ressel also tells us about an inspiring artists residency in which she tackled the subject of decaying whale carcasses.
This is a well-rounded conversation, at ease with the technical issues of using a view camera, literary inspiration, and walking the fine line between commercial food photography and pushing the genre to uncomfortable new places. Join us for a listen and have a look at Ressel’s Artfare page to see her larger prints.
Guest: Emma Ressel
Photograph © Emma Ressel