03.14.2017 - No Comments!


Read the feature here.

How to Make Baby Bees and Other Weird Stuff Great to Eat.

Finke isn’t a foodie. He’s a photographer. He spent last summer shooting The Science of Delicious for National Geographic. The trip took him from a lab in Florida where scientists engineer tastier tomatoes to an experimental food workshop in Toronto where people inhale flavor clouds. And that was the normal stuff.

Dr. Linda Bartoshuk Lmbart@ufl.edu 352 392 1991 Dr. Jennifer Stamps Jstamps@ufl.edu 904 476 1350 Food Science and Human Nutrition Building  527 Newell Dr, Room 405 University of Florida Gainesville Gainesville, FL Dr. Linda Bartoshuk developed the Blue Stain Tongue tests fifteen years ago at Yale University.  This test determines if one is nontasters or supertasters. The test involves counting the number of papillae on the tongue- the more the papillae the more taste sensors a tongue has. Super tasters have much more papillae than non tasters.  This test was developed by Dr. Linda Bartoshuk 15 years ago at Yale. Bartoshuk is now a professor at the University of Florida. Normally, people prize highly acute senses. But taste is not so simple: super taste may be too much of a good thing, causing those who have it to avoid bitter compounds and find some spicy foods too hot to handle. This unusual corner of perception science has been explored by Linda Bartoshuk of Yale University, who first stumbled upon supertasting about 15 years ago while studying saccharin. About one in four, she discovered, qualified as supertasters, a name she coined. To find what made them special, Bartoshuk zeroed in on the tongue's anatomy. She found that people have different numbers of fungiform papillae, with tongue topography ranging from, say, sparse cactus-pocked deserts to lush lawns. To qualify for super stardom, which is a genetically inherited trait, a person has to have wall-to-wall papillae… Most people are tasters, but as many as 25 percent of people of Caucasian descent are non-tasters, according Danielle Reed of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Women are more likely to be supertasters than men. “Taste only happens when molecules bind to receptors on the tongue,” she says. “From there, signals go to certain parts of the brain. Smell happens when odour molecules bind to receptors in the nose, and from there signals go to different parts of the brain. They eventua

Head Chef R&D Lars Williams extracting rose flavor/water using a rotovap or a rotary evaporator; Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark; Contact: Arve Krognes  +45 32 96 32 97, ak@noma.dk.

The weird stuff included a visit to Louisiana State University, where scientists study catfish to better understand taste. The whiskered bottom-feeders navigate murky water using tens of thousands of tastebuds that cover their bodies. “It’s the same idea as if you took your tongue and, like, stretched it around your body,” Finke says.

Later, at the University of Florida, Finke discovered that he isn’t a supertaster. Such people have an unusually high number of papillae, the bumps on your tongue that contain taste receptors, and it makes them hypsersensitive to flavors. Experimental psychologist Linda Bartoshuk coined the term in the early 1990s. Her team tested Finke, who isn’t a supertaster, and his assistant, who is. “He doesn’t like foods that I would think are deliciously spicy, because it’s too much for his palate,” Finke says.

Not being a supertaster might explain why Finke is so gastronomically adventurous. When the folks at Nordic Food Lab, the Copenhagen outfit that investigates “food diversity and deliciousness,” offered him a few bee larvae, he happily popped them into his mouth. Oddly, he doesn’t remember how they taste—“Maybe crunchy? Maybe not crunchy?”—but he quite liked ants. “They have a very strong flavor,” he says. “Salty and robust.”

Finke visited 10 labs, cooking schools and restaurants like the Fat Duck in Melbourne, where the sorbet comes with a box of steaming oak moss that you sniff while eating. He shot, as he always does, with a Nikon D800 and off-camera flashes that cast everything in an unappetizing glow.

The project opened his eyes to the bizarre lengths people go in pursuit of flavor. But if you love food, you’ll try anything. Even ants.

01.09.2017 - No Comments!

It’s Nice That

Read the feature here.


Brian Finke captures the glitz and glamour of the Ms. Senior America beauty pageant

The Ms. Senior America pageant was created in Atlantic City to celebrate the older ladies of America and challenge notions of beauty and its place in American culture. Photographer Brian Finke was asked by Good Housekeeping to “do his thing” and capture all the drama and glamour of the pageant in his brash and glossy style.

“I’ve photographed a lot of competitions over the years such as cheerleadingcompetitions and bodybuilding says Brian. “I’ve alway been interested in the subtle moments backstage where the anticipation and vulnerability comes out in the contestants, they’re very telling of the personalities of the people.” Capturing contestants aged 60 – 90, a range of emotions are portrayed in glitzy colours and intimate crops, yet Brian is careful to combine stage shots with behind the scenes images to create a richer narrative.

“[The contestants] loved the attention, they are there to be seen and perform; being there shooting was just adding to the scene,” he says. Like with many of his other projects, the photographer made sure to go in with an open mind. “I always like showing up without preconceived ideas and photographing what I’m drawn to. I was very impressed watching the ladies own it on stage – I wanted them to look amazing.”



12.01.2016 - No Comments!

The Standard

Read the feature here.

The Many Faces of The Standard Spa, Miami Beach by Photographer Brian Finke

Photographer Brian Finke, whose editorial work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, National Geographic, The New Yorker, and Esquire, turns his eye for detail to The Standard Spa, Miami Beach's poolside scene.
If there’s one thing we really know at The Standard, it’s how to create indelible spaces where people can let loose and be their true selves.A classic example is our beloved pool at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach. It’s as reliably joyous a place as you’ll find in this topsy-turvy world—as good for basking in the sun, sipping frosé, and taking a dip, as it is for some first-rate people watching.Day in and day out, a sundry cast of characters gathers around this idyllic spot to laze about, play, and plunge. It’s the kind of place where you’d happily ask a perfect stranger to apply a bit of sunscreen, and they'd surely oblige.Recently, we dispatched photographer Brian Finke, whose editorial work has appeared in The New York TimesWiredNational Geographic, The New Yorker, and Esquire, to document the many characters that comprise this iconic scene. From muscle men and flight attendants, to waffle houses and people eating at their desks, Finke has a special eye for the eccentric details of daily life. Sure enough, he captured that and much more at our Miami playground.

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11.28.2016 - No Comments!

One Shot Editions





One Shot is a new kind of online gallery that sells museum quality prints of exclusive photos from world-class photographers. Each One Shot photo is printed in an edition of one. After the prints are made, the negatives are destroyed, making One Shot the most limited, limited edition photo series ever. Each photo is sold sight unseen, meaning that buyers won’t know what the shots look like until after they’ve purchased them.


For each edition, One Shot commissions a world-class photographer to shoot a single roll of film, however they want. Buyers can select any available shot on the roll. Once each shot is claimed, it will be gone forever. The number of shots to pick from will vary based on the film format the photographer chooses. Each shot could result in a masterpiece, a happy accident or something else entirely. You won’t know until you take your shot.


Each buyer will receive an exclusive 1/1 print of their purchased shot they purchased. This will be the only print that will ever exist for this particular photo because One Shot destroys the negatives. Each featured photographer chooses the method of destruction for his/her edition.


One Shot launches with fresh work from award-winning photographer, Brian Finke, whose iconic work featuring bodybuilders, flight attendants, high school cheerleaders and hip hop honeys has been published in books and exhibited around the world. His editorial photography appears regularly in The New York Times, Wired Magazine, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Esquire and Newsweek. For One Shot, Finke will shoot a roll of medium-format Fuji Pro 400H on his Hasselblad 503CW.

“It felt good, strange and fun,” Finke says of One Shot, “I was definitely more decisive about each frame I made, but still had the same laser focus.”


Brian Finke’s twenty four 1/1 photos will be available exclusively through oneshoteditions.com on December 5th, 2016 at 9 AM Eastern time. Each One Shot print costs $150 + shipping and comes with a copy of the One Shot Zine: Edition One. The zine includes an overview of the series, a Q&A with Brian Finke and an essay from the founders. It’s available separately for $10 + shipping.


One Shot was created by Zack McDonald and Daan van Dam to help people reconnect with the mysterious and fragile beauty of analog photography.

According to McDonald, “There’s a wildness to analog photography that’s been all but forgotten. Having only a handful of chances to land that perfect shot is almost unthinkable. Waiting days or even weeks to find out if you got it is damn near unbearable. That way of shooting feels dangerous. And incredibly exciting. We want to remind people of that feeling.”

“We founded One Shot to highlight everything that’s remarkable about analog photography,” says van Dam. “We aim to do it in the most fun, interesting and accessible way possible. Where else can you get an affordable 1/1 original print from one of the best photographers in the world?”


Concept & Curation: Zack McDonald & Daan van Dam

Design & Art Direction: Zorica Radovic

Code: Hannah Smith

Production: Eva Koster & Sheri Radel Rosenberg

Film Edit: Herman Forsman

Film Music: Josephine Forsman & Herman Forsman


Download the full press kit including hi-res imagery and video here.


For more information contact: one@oneshoteditions.com

11.15.2016 - No Comments!

Ms. Senior America

 Read the feature here.
For this national contest, you have to be at least 60 years young to compete.

The Atlantic City boardwalk is quiet in October. The sky is washed a sandy gray, and most of the carousels and bumper cars are locked up behind a large green fence. The beaches are deserted, save for the lone wanderer who craves privacy while speaking on her smartphone. Trump's Taj Mahal, a once prominent hot spot on the oceanfront strip, now has white bars over the entrance doors, its many slot machines flashing for an audience of one — an on-duty security guard.

But in late October, if you were to wander into the Resorts Casino Hotel, walk past the blackjack tables and shops, and head up the escalator, you'd encounter a crowd of women gathered — all of a certain age, all decked out in sparkly gowns, heels, sashes and lots of makeup. Follow them down the corridor and you'd eventually reach a set of six or so mahogany doors leading inside the Superstar Theater. There, you'd find the 2016 National Ms. Senior America Pageant.

This year marks Ms. Senior America's 36th year. Over the course of three days, 45 contestants between the ages of 60 and 90 gather from across the country to compete. They've each already won titles at the state and county levels. The show revolves around a three-part public competition: Evening gown presentations, talent performances and a special category called Philosophy of Life, where the contestants share a life "mantra," are the main focus of the first two days. There's also a formal interview, during which the women are sent into a hotel conference room to answer questions in private. The theater is filled with an audience of hundreds, mostly friends and family there to cheer the women on. But it's the five distinguished judges — three men and two women — that this year's contestants need to impress the most. They're scoring the women on each category, narrowing the lineup down to 10 finalists, who compete again on the last day. Then, a winner is crowned. She'll spend the next year visiting county fairs and other events nationwide.


Around 1 p.m. on October 20, the curtains open to all 45 contestants, dressed in full evening attire. It's complete eye candy — every color of the rainbow with more sparkles than a country sky at twilight. They're swaying to the beat as Louis Parisi, a founding member of New Jersey's Smooth Sailin' Orchestra, croons an original song for the crowd. "They were wives, they were lovers, reading books to kids under the covers …" The women are dazzling — big hair and red lips — as they walk up to the microphone and introduce themselves, except for one senior in a stunning sequin dress who appears to have her eyes closed. She's in a wheelchair, with her sash delicately placed over her chest. Louis moves closer and places his microphone near her mouth when it's time for her introduction, as a hearty "Ms. Minnesota!" sounds through the speakers.

A few other gowns are also clear standouts. Ms. South Carolina, Pamela Cannon-Cook, wears a dress made almost entirely of peacock feathers, and Ms. Alabama, Elaine Willingham, a 62-year-old ballerina, has perfect posture as she walks in her black lace and velvet gown across the stage. Ms. Mississippi, Trina Schelton, is one of many in red, but crystal embroidery all along the bodice makes it stand out. You can't help but smile watching each woman enjoy a solo moment in the spotlight before walking up to the microphone and presenting her Philosophy of Life.

"Rumor has it life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you're gonna get! And I'm determined to try each and every one," says Ms. Senior Alaska, Charlotte Werner Ambrose, who volunteers for veterans and at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

"Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day," says Ms. Senior Texas, Sandy McCravy, a pediatric surgical nurse, who talks about calming parents' fears while their kids are in the operating room.

The contestants all speak with fervor and without notes. During intermission, Gayle King, one of the judges and a former Ms. Senior America herself, talks about what she's looking for in each contestant. "It will be that special someone who will go out on stage and will sparkle," she says. In other words, she just has it.

There are some stumbles in the cadence — a curtain opens too early or a name is mispronounced, but all is quickly forgotten once a performance takes off. This year's competition includes several tap dancers, singers and a cowboy poet, who tearfully describes her youngest son's two tours in Iraq. But it's Ms. Missouri, Peggy Lee Brennan, who brings down the house singing and tap dancing to "People Will Say We're in Love" from the musical Oklahoma!.

Backstage, Ms. Nebraska (Shirley Fisher) bends down to help a fellow contestant pin on her sash, while Ms. Arkansas (Patricia Genovese) adjusts her crown.


The second day is much like the first: A second group of contestants are on tap to share their evening gowns, talents and Philosophies of Life. This time, Dr. Barbara Mauldin, the current Ms. Senior America, is emceeing alongside VinI Lopez, a drummer whose main claim to fame is backing Bruce Springsteen in the late '60s and early '70s. Louis Parisi kicks things off again with his pageant theme song.

"It's been an experience of my life," says Ms. Michigan, Sharon Peters, who performs "How Great Thou Art" on piano for her talent. "Whoever would have thought that someone who lived in Michigan and graduated in '61 would ever be Ms. Senior Michigan."

"I went to the Wheatland Blue Grass festival recently," she recalls. "There were, like, 18,000 people there. I had a tie-dyed dress on, and I walked around with my sash and crown. I couldn't take three steps without someone wanting to take a picture."

This afternoon, she is presenting her Philosophy of Life, but admits she's having a hard time remembering it.

"Last night, I got a call from my one son, that he's been holding things back from me for about two months. He has a tumor on the back of his brain. He said, 'I don't want you to worry, Mom, I'm okay,'" she says. "I could not sleep. All I did was pray and tried to remember my philosophy — and I still don't remember my philosophy. It was a rough night."

Later, in the mint green ladies' restroom backstage, Ms. Missouri, Peggy Lee Brennan, talks about her performance of "People Will Say We're in Love" from the day before and reveals that this pageant is the first time she's admitted her age since she was 23. "My agents wanted me to lie and I'm a good Catholic girl, so I would never tell," the 62-year-old former actress says.

Brennan also confesses a simple mistake she made that morning: She walked into her private interview and stood behind her chair, ready to share her Philosophy of Life. The judges asked her to please sit down for the interview, that she'd get to share her philosophy on stage later that day. "'Oh no,'" she recalls saying, bending her knees beneath her red dress as if she's pleading. "At our state pageant, you do it all at once. That threw me."

The more you talk to her, the more you realize things couldn't have been that bad. In the '70s, Brennan played Frenchie in Grease on Broadway, working with Patrick Swayze. She later met her husband, Geoff Haberer, while working on Applause in 1988. Considering those theater chops, the woman probably knows how to improvise.


Brennan is a mother, but didn't come into motherhood until she was 48. After years of looking into adoption, she and her husband were offered a baby girl from Nepal. Now 15, her daughter Heleena is the reason she got back into pageants.

"I did a pageant on Staten Island when I was 19," Brennan says. "I was first runner-up. I wanted it, but it didn't happen. I've been a pageant chaperone for three years with my daughter, and I got to see the Miss America system is all about service — all about sharing, volunteering, and using your talents to be a blessing in other people's lives."

Ms. Missouri, Peggy Lee Brennan, walking on stage to present her Philosophy of Life.

Near the end of the day, Ms. Minnesota, June Delores Lynne Lacey, is sitting in her wheelchair near the stage podium next to another woman, also in a wheelchair, who looks to be in her '50s with grey hair pulled back in a long ponytail. It turns out her companion is her daughter, Joyce Lacey.

During the second day's performances, the audience learns 87-year-old Ms. Minnesota is a comedian and actress, who has appeared in more than 22 films. During her pre-recorded talent routine, photos of her with celebrities and fans appear on the screen. In September 2014, June was named as Senior of the Year in her state, a nod to her 77 years of community service. Today, June has lost most of her vision — the result of a stroke she experienced just three weeks before the pageant — and can hardly hear or talk.

Joyce does most of the talking instead. She recounts how her mom helped her during her first scholarship pageant, when she was valedictorian in high school. "I went to Nationals and my first dress was $9.99 — I think it was a bridesmaid's dress. It was peach. It was 1980," she recalls.

As an adult, Joyce was in a major car accident. Trying to dodge a deer, she drove her vehicle down a 200-foot embankment; her injuries left her unable to walk. After she was released from the hospital, Joyce and her mother, who took on the role as her Personal Care Attendant (PCA), shared a room at a Days Inn for about $25 a day until Joyce could move into an apartment of her own again. Doctors told Joyce she should've been completely paralyzed, "but I think the Lord knew I would have to do this down the road," she says.

After about 15 minutes of chatting, Joyce volunteers her mom for an interview. When asked, "What does it mean for you to be here this week?" Joyce repeats the question louder for her mother, closer to her right ear.

June is unresponsive, so her Joyce chimes in again: "I know she told the judges that it was such a great honor and privilege, and she would cherish it for the rest of her life."

"Is that true?" she prompts her mom. "Like what you said to the judges? Mom?"

Ms. Minnesota (June Lacey) and her daughter, Joyce Lacey. June suffered a Hemorrhagic stroke three weeks before the pageant, but it was her dream to compete at Nationals.

I tell Joyce I just want to ask her one last question: "Do you have a favorite memory with your mom?"

She thinks about it and says, "I have so many, to be honest. I just cherish her so much and I thank God for her every day."

Out of the blue, June speaks up: "It's my dream. Most people don't get that experience. I'm just lucky to get it."

It's not clear if she's talking about the pageant or about being a mother. Maybe it's both.


By the third and final day of the pageant, the entire audience can practically sing along to Louis Parisi's opening song: " ... but what I know, they cannot hide ... besides their beauty and their pride ... they still all have, the little girl inside."

And if the theater felt crammed before, it looks twice as packed by the finalist round. There are more photographers and reporters in the room, and people are just anxious. After the National Anthem and lengthy judge introductions, which the regulars have heard twice already, the day's emcee, pageant Vice President Louise Ferla, comes to the stage to announce the Top 10 finalists: Alabama, Missouri, California, Mississippi, New York, Maryland, Tennessee, Iowa, Louisiana and Oregon.

Backstage, emotions are raw.

After suffering a major foot injury at 51, Ms. Alabama (Elaine Willingham) performed for the first time in 11 years at the 2016 Ms. Senior America pageant.

"I'm trying to understand … and crying!" says one finalist, Ms. Tennessee, Noelani DeRossett.

"I'm so elated!" yells another finalist, Ms. Mississippi, Trina Schelton, in passing.


Meanwhile, the pageant coordinator is hollering commands at the final 10. "Take off your crown and banner and get back up there in the order you were told," she says. "Go, go, go!"

For those who didn't make the cut, there is an obvious change in morale. Some of the women, still in their evening gowns, gather with sodas and water around a white plastic table.


"I was sure you were going to be in the Top 10," Ms. Virginia, Rebecca Tebbs Nunn, says to Ms. Oklahoma, Dove Morgan Schmidt.

"That's okay because God governs everything I do," Nunn replies.

Ms. Mississippi reveals she almost couldn't compete today because one of her porcelain teeth fell out and got lost on the dance floor at last night's pageant ball. "I went back to a little corner and started praying and I asked God to bring that crown back to me and praise the Lord he did. Some lady found it and turned it in."

"I never dreamed at 70 years old I would be doing this," she says, smiling in a bright red gown. The singer was married to Troy Shondell, a teen idol from the '70s, but lost him to a seven-year battle with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's in January.

"I was lost when he passed," she says. "I didn't have anything to look forward to and then all of the sudden God brought me this opportunity to meet so many other people. I just feel his spirit with me, he's giving me the strength and courage to do this."

The 10 finalists must go through their routines one more time. With all the passion she can muster, Ms. Mississippi performs "Where the Boys Are," the title song of a comedy film written by George Wells in 1960. Ms. Missouri then nails one last rendition of "People Will Say We're in Love," breathless by the time the song is over. After each finalist performs, the results are tallied and it's time for the big reveal. Family members and friends shift nervously in their seats and the lights blink red, signaling that the emcees are free to announce the winners. Second runner-up goes to Ms. Alabama, a 62-year-old ballerina who performed on pointe. First runner-up is Ms. Maryland, Sherri McGhie, who sang a soulful "When You're Good to Mama" from Chicago. And, at last, the winner: Ms. Missouri, Peggy Lee Brennan. She's overjoyed and trades her state crown for the national one.

Brennan's daughter, Heleena, sporting her own Miss Outstanding Teen sash, cheers near the front of the stage. "I knew she was going to win," she says. "I'm just so excited for her because I know this has been a dream of hers since she was 19 years old."

But it's Brennan's husband, Geoff, who seems the most sentimental about Peggy's win: "The moment I first saw her, we exchanged glances from across the rehearsal studio and she had that unbelievable smile. I looked at her and tears came out of my eyes. She's been my soul mate since the day we met."

As the crowd pours out of the theater, a pack of photographers snap pictures of the runners-up along with the newly-crowned 2016 Ms. Senior America on stage. Minutes later, Brennan gets the photographers to herself, and Geoff and Heleena join her and the rest of their family for more pictures.

Ms. Minnesota's daughter, Joyce, looks on from her wheelchair in the curtain wings. Like Heleena, she also knew it was her mother's dream to be at this pageant, and despite her stroke, she was determined to come.

"A lot of people in my mom's situation would just stay home and close the drapes," she had said the day before. "But she's trying to get out there."

And she's right. Winning or losing doesn't really feel like the point of the pageant. It's getting out there — proving to yourself that you can still dance in your 80s, or do your stand-up routine even after life hands you a stroke.

And there's always next year.

Every contestant in this pageant had a story to tell. To read more about them, go here

All photography by Brian Finke

10.30.2016 - No Comments!

GUP Magazine

Read the feature here.

Brian Finke (b. 1976, USA) photographs life and lifestyle, using a hard flash and a hard gaze. While editorial in nature, his work’s sociological stance and lush colours make them fascinating as art, with the result that he’s published three monographs of his photographic studies, including a book on cheerleaders and football players (2-4-6-8, Umbrage Editions, 2003), Flight Attendants (powerHouse Books, 2008), and Construction (Decode Books, 2012). Over the last three years, he’s worked with National Geographic’s photo editor Todd James to take on three assignments on the complex issue of today’s food industry: the beef industry, the study of taste, and food waste. Finke tells us more about his food photos.

Your photo story The Science of Delicious looks at all the contemporary ways that research and expertise goes in to our sense of taste. How did that story get started?

My photo editor, Todd James, researches the topic and pretty much decides where I go. Sometimes it’s a little bit of a conversation, but he basically researches and produces it. A writer works independently from our photographs, and some of it overlaps, but his goal is basically to figure out what would be the most visually interesting narrative.

Food is great to shoot – everyone is interested in it, so there’ll always be stories about food produced. I enjoy shooting it in my style, the same way that I would photograph people or places – kind of matter-of-fact and also just the casual relatability of seeing something, shooting it and moving on.

Considering the fact that we all eat, you’d think of food as a pretty straightforward thing that we as individuals would understand easily, but your story basically tells us otherwise. Tell us about some of the research that you saw.

I loved photographing the supertasters – that’s the picture of the blue tongue. This is where they stain the tongue blue, and then they take a picture of it with a microscope – it’s basically just counting the amount of taste buds and papillae, and the more you have, the more sensitive you are to taste. My assistant and I also did the whole supertaster test. He’s a supertaster, I’m not – most of the population is not. This means, in contrast to myself, my assistant is overly sensitive to hot sauce and very strong flavours. Most chefs are not supertasters, because if they were, then food for most of the population would be very toned down – which is kind of interesting to learn.

Were the other things you were allowed to participate in?

Everywhere we go, we were eating the food and trying things out, to experience it. A neat experience was in Melbourne, photographing at the Fat Duck restaurant, which was doing a six-month popup there while they renovated their restaurant in England. It’s a tasting menu, and it’s all about senses and how sight and sound plays into taste. There’s this one dish called ‘Sound of the Sea’, which is basically like a sushi dish, but they serve the meal with an iPod and headphones, and you listen to the sound of waves crashing, and under the sushi is some foamy, frothy stuff that’s very salty so it’s like tasting the ocean, and that’s all served on top of a glass plate with sand underneath... so it’s this sight-sound-taste experience. It’s fun. It’s a very different way of eating than what I know from growing up, with eating being much more of a functional thing than an experience.

How do you try to translate that experience visually in the photographs?

Not very intentionally. (laughs) Sorry. I just go in and try to make interesting photos. I like to be very close to the situation, so the viewer is front and centre, so hopefully the experience or the situation comes across very clearly. I like that proximity, I like it to be intimate, whether it’s photographing a flavour cloud, or a catfish down in Louisiana – oh, I should tell you about the catfish, they’re interesting. They’re the supertasters of the animal kingdom. With them swimming in murky waters, they need some other way to see, so they use the sense of taste instead – it’s like their whole outside is full of taste buds and they use that to navigate the water. It’s kind of like if your tongue was taken out and stretched all around your body. When photographing it, I just like to be extremely close to the catfish in the research lab.

Was there anything that changed about your own tastes or how you experience food through this process?

I think just being aware of now seeing all the different or more elaborate ways of eating, like being in Copenhagen was pretty amazing, shooting at the Noma restaurant and in Nordic Food Lab. The whole multi-sensory experience was great – like, they bring out food and twigs are burning and you’re smelling all this different stuff.

But by the end of the trip, I just wanted to go for something quick and simple and straightforward. I love cooking myself, I love barbequing. Food is important to me, I think it’s a nice thing to share and bond over – I have two boys, and I love grilling and cooking together.

Let’s talk about your other series, Meat, in which you look at the beef industry. Beef has become a controversial food source over the last few years, not just for diet or moral reasons but also because of its environmental impact. How did that get started?

It was my first time to work for National Geographic. That same editor reached out to ask about the assignment to look at the beef industry in Texas, and I was like, “Oh my god, I’m from Texas, I would love to go back and do this and hang out with cowboys”. It originally came about from my Instagram feed actually – from posting pictures of my own barbequing and grill pictures.

That was a much more organic process, I just started out in Amarillo at some old classic ranches and just going out to meet and photograph people, then going to local butchers, and then BBQ restaurants. It’s a kind of nice and unique way that the magazine works, with the amount of time that it commits or allows for stories to grow. I was photographing probably on and off over three months, all around the state.

You visited cattle ranches, butchers, restaurants, and homes – basically the end-to-end of the cow-to-table process. How was the butcher?

I thought it was amazing. I love to eat meat, and it just seemed like a natural thing to do, to see that whole experience. The first one that we photographed was a small town artisanal butcher outside of Amarillo. It was just two dudes with knives that were five inches long – well, they would use a saw to cut the cow in half. They would kill it, drain the blood, cut it in half, then like hang it up and skin it, and then it would be in a freezer – all in twenty minutes. It was amazing watching them, and being in the room – it’s called the ‘kill floor’, and it’s painted red.

There’s a health inspector there, inspecting every cow as it’s slaughtered – and even he was like, “Is this turning you off meat?” and I’m like, “This is fucking amazing!” It just made sense to me.

There were other experiences where it was much more of the mass production type of thing, and that was a very different experience, and was much more intense. You can almost feel the death in the air, with that kind of volume, or maybe just the mental thing, just going in there and seeing everything going by...

But it was fine to see – I mean, I eat a lot of meat. It is what it is.

You’re a Texas native, where beef is basically built into the daily life. Did the photo story exploring the controversy change how you personally viewed eating beef?

I just appreciate it on the smaller scale, like with these small butchers. Seeing the giant feedlots with the thousands of cattle, it’s more about the volume. There’s environmental impacts, but... people have to eat.

Working on the food waste story, I started composting and doing other things – doing my own part, in a little way. That story influenced me more. It would just seem hypocritical to spend three months working on a story on food waste and then not change anything.

Tell us more about that story.

I shot the food waste story in September 2015, and it was photographing different activists or programs around the world that were taking positive steps to help reduce food waste. For example, in San Francisco, I photographed the Imperfect project, which is an organization that collects all the ‘ugly’ produce, to sell it at a reduced price. In a similar direction, a company up in Boston is providing food at very low cost, so people can have access to healthy food instead of buying fast food.

You said that story had the biggest impact on you. What did you see that affected you the most?

Photographing in the south of San Francisco – the produce I mentioned – and seeing the amount of food that is just dumped and goes into landfill. There was an image I shot for that of a dump truck carrying all this perfectly good lettuce. I was photographing at a transfer station, as it was going to the dump.

Perfectly good produce is dumped for various reasons. I think in this case, it was a problem of where the lettuce was being packaged, like some bags weren’t being cut properly, so everything was just being dumped. What was important in the photo is that everything looked edible – nice and fresh – and it was just amongst all the other trash as it was going to be dumped. It was interesting being there and seeing that process taking place. It drove it home very clearly.

It seems our relationship with food has become very complicated. How do you see food these days?

I think it’s nice to buy locally, but... look, I have two boys who are 8 and 11, and they’re picky eaters and it’s a pain in the ass. So, I just try to be aware of these other things. You want to enjoy food, you want to be responsible as to what you eat, and also just eat healthy, but I’ve also just got to get food in their stomachs. And try to make it interesting, too.

You mentioned Instagram earlier – are you the kind of guy to photograph your food?

Normally only when it relates to meat. It’s great to be in the backyard, grilling and drinking beer and taking meat photos.

10.14.2016 - No Comments!

Beware Magazine

Read the feature here.hhh_22

Intérieur cuir ou velours, rolex, chaînes en or, avec son lot de filles maquillées, presque grimées, les ongles fluo, des chaussures de strip-teaseuse aux pieds, équipées de révolvers en toc…

Dans la dernière série de clichés réalisés par le photographe américain Brian Finke, c’est un véritable festival d’artifices où le clinquant semble être le mot d’ordre. Depuis deux ans et demi, il écume les tournages de clip de hip-hop, mitraillant ce qu’on appelle dans le milieu les « hip-hop honeys », ces jeunes filles sexy se déhanchant  sur le flow du rappeur, dans les clips dont nous abreuvent l’entertainment américain. Captant les détails d’un monde ultra-codifié, Finke nous révèle les coulisses d’un rêve comme les façonne si bien l’Amérique, dans lequel toutes ces filles n’aspirent finalement qu’à obtenir leur quart d’heure de gloire. Elles se cambrent avec exagération, prennent des pauses lascives devant le rappeur virile, jouant la carte du pimp si répandu, le tout entrecoupé de soufflettes et de quelques dollars lancés nonchalamment sur leurs postérieurs.
Bien entendu, toute l’industrie du hip-hop n’est pas au même régime et loin de moi l’envie d’alimenter les mêmes stéréotypes encore et toujours ! Mais Finke nous donne à voir qu’au final, rien n’est si brillant dans l’imagerie qu’on nous offre si ce n’est le fantasme qui nous habite ensuite.

hhh_03De nombreuses critiques pilonnent le hip-hop à cause de cette récurrence des clichés sexistes. Les femmes sont des objets mal traités et les hommes, des idiots engoncés dans leurs apparats grotesques. « D’abord, ce n’est pas le seul milieu où ça se passe comme ça, nuance le photographe dans M Le Monde. Et puis, il ne faut pas oublier une chose majeure : c’est du divertissement, rien d’autre ». Il ajoute enfin : « Il n’y a aucune prétention. Mais tous veulent être vus, sortir du lot ». Finalement, tout est une question de recul.