Posts Tagged ‘profiles’

Tales from the fridge

August 24, 2010

I first learnt about this project by photographer Mark Menjivar through an article written by Elizabeth Ryan in the UTNE reader. (

It struck me as to how a mere photograph of the inside of a refrigerator could conjure up so many images of the person or persons in that household who were consuming the food depicted.

As Mark Menjivar himself says “A refrigerator is both a private and a shared space. One person likened the question, ‘May I photograph the interior of your fridge?’ to asking someone to pose nude for the camera. Each fridge is photographed ‘as is.’ Nothing added, nothing taken away.”

In fact, I feel that ‘You are what you eat’ is a very appropriate title for the exhibition / slide show Mark has created from this project.

The types, variety (or not) and amounts of foods and beverages inside the fridge tell me stories about personal characteristics of the consumers such as:

  • The food enjoyed
  • The food which is familiar
  • Interest in ‘healthy’ food
  • Interest in ‘fresh’ food
  • Interest in ‘local’ food
  • Typical portion sizes
  • Openness to novelty.

 The food labelling, the food packaging and how organised the fridge is suggest other stories about these persons such as:

  • Use of claims and symbols to choose their food
  • The food which is accessible
  • The food which is convenient
  • Time for food preparation
  • Where food is eaten (eating out vs. at home vs. ordering in)
  • Value of avoiding food wastage
  • Awareness of food hygiene and safety.

Of course the photos will just allow you to ‘guess’ the profiles of these individuals. Only a properly conducted interview will tell you the full story.

Still, I agree with Mark’s description and see  these photos as portraits of people’s lives, cultures and perhaps their values. What do they feed themselves? How important is food in their lives? How far do they link food with their identity? How far do they see their food choices as impacting others, or as impacting the environment?

Go to this link then click on projects -> you are what you eat -> images for a slide show of 20 of Mark’s photos and a description of the related households.

Enjoy the show and come up with your own stories and questions.