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Photographer Ryan Matthew Smith

An interview with the lensman behind "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking"

by Karen Day in Culture on 29 November 2010

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The lead lensman and photo editor behind the forthcoming book "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking," photographer Ryan Matthew Smith captures food and drink with a keen eye for composition, detail and delectability. In a recent interview with Feature Shoot, Smith discusses the making of the 2,400-page tome and his contribution to making the book renowned chef Ferran Adrià says "will change the way we understand the kitchen.”

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From compositing several individual exposures for one enticing cutaway shot of hamburgers on a grill to shooting a lineup of eggs with a 308 sniper rifle at 6200 frames per second, Smith masterfully executed and edited the cookbook's selection of images down from the 1,400 he shot. Smith explains that while he had little studio experience before beginning the project, his extensive portfolio of architecture- and nature-focused photos helped prepare him and that "having a strong artistic sense toward photography in general can easily transfer through any of the disciplines from advertising all the way to fine art."

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Smith primarily used a Canon 5D Mark II with zoom and macro lenses to create "minimalist, high contrast imagery that really pops off the page." The small team of food stylists and cooks were generally led by chef Maxime Bilet, who Smith says "endlessly contributed cool photo ideas and did excellent styling on the food plating shots," as well as played an instrumental role in the production and engineering of the cross sectional photos.

Building the sets, shooting (and sometimes reshooting) the food and finally editing the photos was a three year process in total, Smith says. The upshot—a meticulously photographed book that demonstrates the full art form of cooking. "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking" will sell online starting 14 March 2011.

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