Is this the future of food photography?

We've been drooling an awful lot ever since we set eyes on Kitchen Ghosts, a fantastic project in which Russian photographer Daria Khoroshavina photographs her friend Olya preparing delicious-looking meals.

What's Olya doing with this pastry?

What really makes it for us is that instead of static shots, Daria creates cinemagraphs – 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.

It's a lovely pear and walnut strudel, finished off with a dusting of icing sugar

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.

Olya fries up some chicken; what's she going to do with that?

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."

Pasta with chicken and honey sauce. Say when!

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."

Hungry now. Could someone run out and fetch us a bacon sandwich, please?

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.

Next time we're in Moscow we're totally popping round to Olya's for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner

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."

What would a piece on Russian cooking be without a bubbling pot of borscht? Here you go!

If we've whetted your appetite for their work, you can see more of Daria and Olya's delectable cinemagraphs here.

Words: Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for children's parties.

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