Henry Hargreaves collaborates with Caitlin Levin to show how authoritarian regimes throughout history have used food as a weapon.
Food has always intrigued me and I have spent much of my time exploring its possibilities. I knew that I didn’t want to approach it from a traditional food photography perspective. Instead, I was keen to show how food is connected to not just our physical well-being, but also show its effect on a country’s social, political and economic spheres.
This is where the idea for Power Hungry originated, after Caitlin read about how the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad’s regime had intentionally prevented food and aid from reaching civilians, in order to starve them into submission. Around that time, I was thinking about creating a series on dictator’s favourite meals. And so, a combination of both these ideas resulted into the project.
We approached the series by photographing diptychs to show the contrast between what the rich and the poor ate, thus hoping to start a conversation about how food is often turned into a weapon when left in the hands of the powerful. We chose time frames that spanned a large period of history, as we wanted to show how this issue has existed for a very long time, and continues to be a big problem to this day. On the other hand, we also sought to give the project a historical and modern perspective, as over the years, concerns of food have shifted from starvation to obesity and vice versa.
— As told to Rachna Dhanrajani
Tips on How to Approach an Issue You Want to Photograph
- Statistics may seem like a rather boring side to one’s research, but studying numbers carefully can help you establish relationships between events, and how things connect and contrast. This can give you an analytic peg, around which you can base a photoessay.
- Comparitive photos are a easy way to bring out an issue, but remember to use this approach judiciously and ensure that it is backed up by impactful visuals.
- The answers to how you should portray a certain issue lie in the kind of questions that you, as a curious storyteller, ask about the issue.
Henry and Caitlin began working together in 2004. Their mutual interest in food and photography has led to many out of the box collaborations turning food into Art and documenting it through the lens. The narrative, and ability to tell a story with food through their images is what drives them. From deep frying electronic gadgets, through recreating Rothko’s in rice to Art Galleries from gingerbread; they enjoy turning the mundane into the offbeat and memorable.
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Better Photography.