The old saying "you are what you eat" takes on new meaning in this nude study by Seattle photographer Matt Freedman. Shot for a proposed book project, "Citrus" is part of an ongoing series of images created jointly by Freedman and James Beard Award-winning chef Tiberio Simone, owner of Seattle's La Figa Catering.
Called "La Figa: Visions of Food and Form," (lafigaproject.com), the photo series is a collection of posed nudes that are adorned — in some cases, totally covered — in painstakingly arranged gourmet ingredients. Here, a model is speckled with lemon, lime and orange slices. Others are painted with chocolate, sprinkled with seeds or buried in berries.
In nearly all of the poses, the sumptuous food brings a heightened sense of eroticism. "Tiberio has had this vision of food and bodies for years," Freedman says of his collaborator. "He's a very sensual and sexual person, and he has this philosophy of how a person needs to have both food and touch to survive."
Freedman and Simone like to use only food ingredients on their models, which led to some creative solutions for using edible substances for adhesives. For "Citrus," shot a couple of years ago, Simone used carrageenan, a gelatinous substance extracted from seaweed, to keep the fruit slices in place. In other shoots, he used olive oil to hold lighter foods, such as seeds.
Since 2007, Freedman and Simone have done dozens of shoots, and made 40 to 50 images in this series. "I do the photography, Tiberio does the food, but we collaborate closely on all the poses," Freedman says. "It's best to work out the poses first before you add the food. It can be a long process, especially if you're using two models at once."
For this shot, Freedman used a Nikon D300 with a 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, a black velvet backdrop and SB-800 Speedlights, although most of the shots are produced in his Seattle studio using strobes. As the project has progressed, he has moved to a wide variety of indoor and outdoor locations.
This summer, Freedman says, the "La Figa" project will be ready to shop around to book publishers. The finished book will also include some "food and form" essays by Simone, photos of individual food arrangements and a few "making of" photos, showing how some of the images were art directed.
For more information on the book project and on Freedman's work, visit silentcolor.com.