We've been drooling an awful lot ever since we set eyes on Kitchen Ghosts (opens in new tab), a fantastic project in which Russian photographer Daria Khoroshavina (opens in new tab) photographs her friend Olya preparing delicious-looking meals.
What really makes it for us is that instead of static shots, Daria creates cinemagraphs (opens in new tab) – high-quality GIFs in which a still photograph is enhanced by a looping animated section – of the cooking process and the finished treats that really come to life on the screen.
An ongoing project, Kitchen Ghosts currently lets you watch Olya preparing a pear and walnut strudel, pasta with chicken and honey sauce, vegan borscht with lentils, plus an assortment of breakfast treats, all in a series of glorious animated snapshots.
Daria's been interested in cameras and photography since she was 17, and has been working as a professional photographer for the past three years, but ever since she discovered cinemagraphs she's been using them in her work to great effect. "I love experimenting!" she tells us, "This keeps my imagination going I guess. I just saw one, found a tutorial, played with it, and made something new out of it."
While Daria takes the photos, Kitchen Ghosts is very much a collaboration between her and Olya. "I wouldn't have done this without Olya," says Daria, "She's the girl that cooks, styles and develops recipes. We bounce ideas off each other."
While Olya prepares the food in her Moscow kitchen, Daria shoots the action on tripod-mounted Canon 6D. She then cuts video segments together in After Effects, then uses Photoshop for the nitty-gritty of colour correction, creating a static layer and generally making the finished cinemagraph look its very best. "The key is to find a perfect fragment and polish it to make it look seamless," she explains.
Kitchen Ghosts already features some beautiful work, but Daria and Olya hope to take their animated food photography project further. "We have just started the project and got overwhelmed with ideas," Daria tells us. "We want to keep shooting our home meals for a blog, maybe illustrate a culinary book, shoot an ad for a restaurant or a bar or a culinary school."
If we've whetted your appetite for their work, you can see more of Daria and Olya's delectable cinemagraphs here (opens in new tab).
Words: Jim McCauley (opens in new tab)
Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for children's parties.
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