Childhood Meals

by swhoneyman

Some of my most vivid memories as a child are that of my meals. Food plays a large role in the development through childhood. Be it the rare ‘naughty’ dinner with chips and beans or the dreaded bad school dinner which (Back in my Day) we used to be made to eat. Therefore I can’t think a better universal childhood memory than what was for dinner. Be it girls or boys there are certain meals that at one point or another the majority of us have been given.

As with a lot of my work I wanted to explore this in a slightly surreal way. Thinking about food and memory I came to the conclusion that they have something in common that they are both inside a container of sorts in the body. Memories get stored in the brain and food obviously into the stomach. Therefore I wanted to photograph the food when placed inside a glass vase. I thought that this could lead to some interesting distortions of the food its self, a bit like the distortion of the images depicting my take on memory before. But this time rather than a manufactured distortion I wanted to make it a physical distortion.

Unfortunately due to leaving this late on I was unable to get in the studio therefore I set up a home studio and got a lighting kit out. This worked but meant that I was unable to keep the camera in the same place due to having to work on the floor and not being able to set a tripod up. I would like to further shoot these in the studio so that I can have further freedom over them and make sure that they are perfectly square etc. Nonetheless I was happy with the outcomes.

The first meal I could remember was spaghetti bolognese. A staple in my household and a meal that I could remember being given at school. Although the quality difference was huge I find this meal to be one that many can relate to. As the vase was quite big I cooked three quarters of a pack of spaghetti and used a whole jar of sauce.


I enjoyed how the sauce made it’s way down through the gaps in between the pasta. As well as how the pasta looked pressed up against the glass. There was something interesting about how being displayed in this way made it look completely different uet so similar.

Following on from the pasta I chose to do the age old classic kid’s meal of Fish Fingers, Chips and Beans. I was unsure how this would turn out as there was a lot of similar coloured ingredients.


I was surprised at how well it turned out. Due the juice from the beans not covering the chips on this side it meant that you were still able to see al of the ingredients whilst getting the running liquid I had enjoyed from the spaghetti. Again though the images were suffering due to the lack of a tripod.

After this I decided to do a Chicken Roast. A staple of the British diet and something that the majority will have devoured at some point in their lives. I wanted to try and produce a feeling of nostalgia whilst creating a slight sense of unease.


Next I decided to go back to the ‘naughty’ treat childhood meals and made chicken dippers, smiley faces and spaghetti hoops. As with the fish fingers I was a bit unsure of how well this would turn out.



I liked how distorted the smiley faces got, however out of them all so far this was my least favourite due to the lack of definition. Furthermore due to not using exact measurements it had only filled up half of the vase which not only looked silly in it’s self it meant that in a series it would look out of place.

Continuing I went for a Hotpot. I chose a hotpot as any sort of stew type homely hearty food I believe to be quite common in British households. Again I was unsure how it would turn out due to the similarity of the colours of the ingredients.


I was surprised at how well it turned out however again I thought it was one of the weaker so far.

Next I chose to do another homely meal of Sausage and mash. I was hoping that due to their being lots of pockets of air when putting the mash in the vase that there would be a similar effect to the spaghetti image.


Out of all of them this was may favourite. It was the most simple yet for me it worked the best. I liked how serendipitously the gravy had splashed onto the glass fogging it up somewhat. This gave a misty almost dreamy sense to the sausages, I oddly preferred this to the glass being clear.

Nonetheless the images due to not having a tripod would not work in a series due to the non-true to life look to them, or the portions not being the same. Therefore I decided to crop the images to include the food only.

This worked really well. With each of these I increased the clarity to really pull out the detail. With the added detail came through the textures of the ingredients, you could now see the silkiness of the gravy. Little thing such as the distorted smiley face in spaghetti hoop juice pulled through and I felt you got a far more complete image.

It became almost grotesque in looking at them but captivating at the same time. I began to loose the thought that these were childhood foods and get lost in the beauty of the shapes, colours and patterns that were formed. It was like portraying them in this way made the humble foods become a higher power; they were no longer photographs of food they had become something more.

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