JWT Amsterdam is dining on the dark side: Food on the chef's face
MENU: an after hours project turned borderline obsession, turned edgy photographic project – supported by J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam which will be featured at professional photography congress SHOOT Amsterdam on 3 April 2017. MENU makes the raw, unprocessed ingredients the heroes. Served on the closest place you can get to a chef’s mind: on his face.
Here’s what happened when two JWT staffers, the agency chef and a visual designer who loves photography, took this one step further by turning food into the creative.
In their series of portraits, Robbie Postma (chef) and Robert Harrison (photographer) take the viewer back to the origin of a menu. Through visual imagination and culinary flair, they evoke every step of a fine dining experience, but rather than focusing of the final, finessed dishes, MENU makes the raw, unprocessed ingredients the heroes.
Served on the closest place you can get to a chef’s mind: on his face.
When creating these images, Postma and Harrison stuck to the same principles and values a chef would when creating a menu: paying a lot of attention to the details, the composition, the preparation and of course the ingredients.
From cutlery to coffee bean, every component is painstakingly prepared to produce the ultimate effect. And every grain of rice was added by hand, without the aid of digital manipulation. MENU is hand crafted. Just like the best food.
The whole project took a year to complete from start to finish and each image is the result of a lengthy process of research, testing of materials, preparation, art direction, planning and of course experimenting, most shots taking sometimes up to nine hours to prepare.
Robbie Postma, chef/food creative: “A good menu is a story with its own narrative arc. That’s what we’ve tried to recreate in this project: we deconstructed a traditional menu into all its separate elements and ingredients and reconstructed it in a disruptive way – using my own face as the canvas to present our very own ‘MENU’. This project in its essence is about the quest for perfection and represents the importance of taking enormous amount of time and attention to create something beautiful.”
Robert Harrison, visual designer / photographer: “The devil is on the detail and that’s something we really took to heart when shooting the photography. Each single ingredient was painstakingly hand-placed onto the face, resulting in literally hours of preparation for each shot. For us it was important to work in a very organic way, shoot everything in camera and use no digital manipulation at all. This attention to detail and technique, combined with the unexpected scenarios, I guess some would say downright disturbing images - is what has this such a compelling project to work on.”
Food is most definitely a thing at multi grand prix-winning agency J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam, where no two days ever see the same lunch served. The agency is focusing on food in more than one way this year, so supporting MENU was a no-brainer for ECD Bas Korsten.
Bas Korsten, executive creative director, J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam: "I love MENU. Not only because it’s phenomenal photography. But mostly because it represents all that we stand for at J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam. We love spending some of our creative energy disrupting the traditional client brief structure by coming up with stuff that nobody’s asked for. Because it helps us to define ourselves. To takes us to places that we’ve never been before. Rob and Robbie’s project is exemplary of that. Two guys who just took an idea and ran with it. I love it."