Vernacular photography is an exciting genre that portrays the mundaneness of everyday life or of an object. There is unexpected beauty and creativity in these photographs, which I have always been fond of. Images that fall in this theme were never made for any artistic purpose, which only made them even more enthralling. Since my interest lies in various forms of photography, I have spent a copious amount of time collecting vernacular images. The stranger the content within the frame, the better. A few years ago, when I moved to Beijing, China, I came across several such photographs of food. The diversity and imagination that went to make each cuisine prompted me to look at the country’s history of food photography.
A Bygone era
In China, anything that walks, swims, crawls or flies with its back to the heaven is most likely to be eaten. Over the last few decades, the country’s obsession with food has created an inspiring track of anonymous photographs and photo albums, from black and white pictures of birthday cakes to a great wall of ham. To purchase these second-hand photographs, I visited various flea markets, and sometimes, different online platforms.
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