What This Year’s Best Food Photography Says About Next Year’s Trends

Andrew Scrivani — Best CookbooksThis article is part of creativeLIVE’s 12 Days of Giving series.

It’s the time of year hard to open your email without getting battered with “10 Best of Everything Under the Sun!” This is not one of those lists — this is instead a roundup of my favorite cookbooks published in 2013, based on the strength of the food photography, not the recipes. These cookbooks, to me, illustrate rising trends in the industry and hint at new directions for 2014.

The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon Recipes From the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop
by Emily and Melissa Elsen with photography by Andrea Gentl

We’ve been seeing a messy, masculine edge to food photography for a few years now, and The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book blew that trend out, literally, pairing moody, high-contrast photographs with rustic recipes. Emily and Melissa have been rising stars in the food scene for awhile, but this book will be getting plenty of attention for it’s visuals too. It’s a moody, delicious cookbook — a surprising aesthetic for pie, which is usually treated in a precious, perfectly-plated way.

Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More
by Andrew Schloss with photography by Alan Benson

This cookbook is a gorgeous example of food photography’s deviation from perfect, static composition and towards more dynamic styling. In general, there is less formality than there has been previously — the best food photographers are showing the beauty of the cooking process as well as the finished dish.

Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand
by Andy Ricker with photography by Austin Bush

This book is very vibrant, indicative of Andy’s food and experiences in Thailand. It’s messy and bright, unfolding as both a memoir and a cookbook. David Chang’s Momofuku (with photographs by Gabrielle Stabile), really opened the door for photojournalism in food photography — especially in restaurant cookbooks.

The Glorious Vegetables of Italy
by Domenica Marchetti with photography by Sang An

The cover itself, a photograph of a cutting board covered in chopped artichoke halves and a visibly roughed-up lemon, speaks to the trend towards process shots and away from staid plated images. Food photography in 2014 will continue to trend towards this lived-in style, capturing drips, crumbs, half-eaten food.

I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes
by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara with photography by Francesco Tonelli

Fully capturing the rich diversity and abundance of the New York food landscape, this book visually explores the full range of produce and recipes that are New York. Francesco Tonelli’s photography which is at once masculine and elegant embraces the ethereal beauty of individual ingredient and the sublime simplicity that those elements become when combined.

Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird
by Gabe Rucker with photography by David L. Reamer

The photography in Gabe Rucker’s book is very informal and masculine. David Reamer really captured Gabe’s unique style, which combines traditional, decament elements with fanky, avant garde execution (ex: foie gras profiteroles). There’s even a short chapter on Gabe’s love letter to Plymouth Valiants.

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Andrew Scrivani is an award-winning food photographer and regular contributor to The New York Times.