I’m frequently asked, “Why spoons?” when people explore the subject matter of my fine art photo series. It’s not as apparent as the black and white Tool images I crafted from the tools in my Dad’s garage after he passed away, or the series I dedicated to my mom, called the Faith Collection. So, let me take you back to the origins of this spoon fascination.
As a professional food photographer, I work with an array of props. I find myself in numerous kitchens, conversing with chefs and owners while awaiting dishes to be cooked, plated, and prepped for photography. During these moments of observation, I witness the authentic behind-the-scenes action without the embellishment of editing and retakes. What I see are individuals who have their favorites: a cherished spot in the kitchen, well-worn pots, and, of course, cherished knives. All these tools have been shaped by countless hours of use, likely in a multitude of ways. As a quiet observer in these scenarios, I’m drawn to the unique motions and rhythms of work in progress. Every person is distinctive, and every gesture is meaningful. This isn’t a delicate dance with delicate objects; it’s a vigorous, hands-on engagement with battered and well-used tools, both the person creating in the kitchen and the objects within it.
It was during these moments that my curiosity was piqued, and I developed a deep fascination with what these items looked like after years of wear and tear. I realized that I was witnessing the history of these objects in a way that words couldn’t possibly capture. But a photograph – a photograph could convey the essence of this wear and tear, the enduring story of their use. Photos can immortalize the scars, dents, and the aging process that occurs in items with a long history. From these long days spent in the kitchens of talented chefs, the Culinary Imaginings Series was born…
And then, there came a moment of decision.
I chose to play favorites. Yes, as an artist, I have that privilege. So, what’s my favorite kitchen item? Spoons. Why? For one, they are the perfect companions for ice cream, not to mention their role in preparing a soothing cup of tea, gently stirring in hot pots of water. And what about those thick soups like clam chowder or my mom’s French onion soup, which provide warmth and comfort on chilly days? Life without a spoon would indeed be challenging. The truth is, there are countless “Forgotten Spoons” out there, and I seem to spot them everywhere I go. This led to my obsession with collecting them, and the more battered they are, the more I cherish them. I’ve become enamored with the Wabi-Sabi of the spoon – the beautiful, colorful array of tarnish.
Can tarnish be my favorite color? I believe it is…