The art of eating

Local food photographer Haim Yosef brings two of his passions, cooking and photography, to the third ‘Food Processor’ exhibit in Tel Aviv.

A woman looks at a creation by Tom Friedman named 'Big Big Mac' during the unveiling of the Arts & Food exhibition at the Triennale, as part of the next Expo 2015, in downtown Milan (photo credit: REUTERS)
A woman looks at a creation by Tom Friedman named 'Big Big Mac' during the unveiling of the Arts & Food exhibition at the Triennale, as part of the next Expo 2015, in downtown Milan
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Several years ago, Haim Yosef was at his mother’s home while she made preparations for the upcoming Passover Seder.
“I heard water running,” says Yosef over a double espresso on Rothschild Boulevard, “I walked into the bathroom and found her washing about 20 kilos of leeks in the bathtub. I took my camera, the one that I always carried around, and photographed her dealing with those leeks.”
That photograph, which still hangs today on the wall of Yosef’s childhood home in Bat Yam, was the first step into a career as a food photographer. Starting late last month and running through May 2, two of Yosef’s images will be on display as part of the third Food Processor exhibition at the Sarona Art Gallery. This group show is focused on food as a means of communication.
Trained at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Yosef enjoys bringing two of his passions, cooking and photography, together.
“I used to work as a restaurant cook. I can’t say I did it professionally,” he laughs, “but I was really into it.” After snapping that first shot of leeks, Yosef found himself pointing his lens at more and more foods. He hung up his chef spurs, at least professionally, and put cooking in its place as a loved hobby.
Today, the 34-year old Yosef is one of the leading food photographers in Israel. His clients include restaurants throughout the country as well as chefs and event planners.
“Photographing food is always interesting because it is about meeting people. I never want to just take a pretty picture, I want to create something new and to always be learning.”
Yosef’s message, which he promotes through his commercial and private works, is about Slow Food. An international movement around since 1989, Slow Food aims to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions and to counteract the impact of a fast-pace lifestyle on eating habits.
“I am part of a group of people that are spreading the word about an approach to food that is about fair, fresh and local food,” explains Yosef.
A tall man with kind eyes and a big smile, Yosef speaks freely and easily about his love for food and interest in its roots, literal and figurative.
“I want to consume food that is locally grown and fresh, not flown in or engineered.
When you eat a pita on the street, you don’t usually ask yourself or the person who made it what’s in it or where those products come from. When I buy local products, I am helping a local farmer earn a living off of his produce.”
Yosef’s first major exhibition took place last year at the Jaffa Art Salon. Entitled Eating Slow, his solo show featured portraits of people in mid-meal.
“I invited people, mostly friends of mine, to my studio. I photographed them sitting and eating a dish I made for them. I told each one of them the same thing: ‘Sit, eat, eat slow.” I wanted them to really think about what they were eating,” he says.
Whereas Eating Slow was what Yosef considers an art project, Food Processor combines his commercial and artistic pursuits.
The two images in Food Processor are very different from one another. Both were taken on the job, Yosef explains. In the first, Yosef captured a luxurious still life of a fully decked out table with no one to sitting at it.
“I was shooting at Brut on Nahalat Binyamin and there was this moment that everyone got up and left the table. I took a picture of the table, the food on it and no people.”
The second features bright green peas, glistening against a black backdrop.
Yosef’s images will be joined by those of Ran Hillel, Osnat Ben Dov, Varda Carmeli, Navah Uzan and many others. The exhibition is curated by Dalit Merhav.
Food Processor will run through May 2 at Sarona Art Gallery, David Elazar 12 Building 105. For more information, visit www.facebook.