As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be some kind of artist. As an only child I used to draw for hours in my room, designing space ships and buildings. I also played the drums and though that playing in a band would be cool (like most kids). But it was when I started taking photographs that I got really turned on, and now my drawing skills and designing are being used to create these world of food, so I can escape in a similar way to that which I did in my bedroom as a child.
Who do you find inspiring? Artists Roger Dean, Patrick Woodroffe and Salvador Dali. Most of my inspiration for the Food Landscapes comes from classical landscape paintings using the golden thirds and pathways that lead you into the deep perspectives.
What other jobs have you had? Photographer in the advertising business for 25 years.
What do you find inspiring? I have a great love of food and I enjoy eating like most people. But food is a great source of inspiration to me because it is an organic material that has a similarity to the larger aspects of the natural world. Also, people can relate to food easily and so they recognize the cleverness of what I do and appreciate the art and the craft involved in order to create this kind of imagery. Inspiration can come from visiting a place or seeing it in a film, or on the web or in a magazine. It can come from wandering around the supermarket or farmers market or even in a restaurant. I don’t mind where they come from, so long as they come!
What inspired you to write this book? I began creating the first image ‘Mushroom Savanna’ back in 1999 and I had no idea it would become such a long term project as it seemed to be just a one off image. This first image using the mushrooms sparked the idea, I was walking through a food market and I found these amazing portabella mushrooms and as I held them up to the light it struck me that they sort of looked like giant trees when viewed from a low angle. Having brought them back to my studio with a few other ingredients, I set up the camera and lights to see if I could create a miniature world on my studio table top……and here we are 14 years later with over 70 images.
What is one of the hardest parts of your job? There is such an incredible choice of ingredients in terms of shape, texture and colours. The disadvantage is that it perishes and so we have to work very quickly, especially when creating a large scene and under hot studio lights. Certainly things like fresh herbs are a nightmare as they wilt and dry out before your eyes.
What is one of the best parts of your job? I like to make people smile. The work is whimsical and fun. I call it “The pleasant deception” My work is being used as a vehicle to promote healthy eating, nutritional education and good diet, so I am glad that the work can make people happy and hopefully do some good in the world.
Where do you like to work? My studio in London is close to Borough Market (probably the oldest in London dating back to the Roman times), this market is a source of inspiration and I am always looking to fine new and interesting ingredients to work with. My studio air conditioned and so we try our best to keep all the ingredients as fresh as possible. As a photographer it is my pleasure to re-create the feeling of natural sunlight using studio lighting, and together with the composition create a scene that fools the viewer into initially thinking that they are looking at a real place.
What is something that most people would be surprised to know about you? I have no sense of smell so I cannot enjoy the aromas of food and cooking, but on the other hand I do not suffer the smell of a studio full of fish!
What are you working on next? Scenes made from clothes and cities made from nuts and bolts or office equipment. I am also directing TV commercials using my techniques as well as developing a children’s animation project which will help educate kids into eating more healthily.
Read my review of ‘Carl Warner’s Food Landscapes’ here.