For most people, creating one photograph that perfectly portrays humor, nostalgia, and drama all in one can be quite the difficult task. However, photographer, Corinne (Cori) DiPietro, has the amazing power to create not just one, but TEN exciting images with all of these attributes. Cori DiPietro’s project entitled “Food Noir” is an exploration of fine art self portraiture, witty advertising, classic horror film techniques, and creative imaging through photoshop.
Cori was born and raised on the west coast of Canada, but presently lives in Boston. She is currently graduating from the New England School of Photography this month, with a focus in fine art and advertising.
Laura Knapp: Cori, your project “Food Noir” is easily one of my favorite photo series that I’ve had the chance to see this year. How did you come up with the concept for advertisements that have such a unique and refreshing twist? It’s not everyday that you see advertisements that have so much to offer as a narrative. Your photos sort of trick the mind and make you forget that you’re looking at an ad.
Cori DiPietro: Firstly, thank you so much for appreciating my work and thank you for inviting me to talk about it.
While in my final year at New England School of Photography, Food Noir came to fruition as my advertising portfolio. Admittedly, I was not aiming for a practical commercial portfolio, as my ultimate goal and NESoP major is Fine Art. Of course though, one could say that I was selling a brand, a mood or a feeling, just not a product. Im very grateful that my instructor, Bruno Debas, was completely supportive in this approach.
As to the concept for this series, it came from a deep appreciation of film noir and dark humor. Cake Psycho was the first, very simple idea. I saw a frightening black and white photo of a crazy knife wielding crone and imagined a disemboweled cake in front of her. It made me smile. A few other ideas like The Birdos and The Potato from Shanghai came pretty quickly and easily after the first.
LK: Even though you didn’t start “Food Noir” with any commercial intentions, do you still see any commercial applications for this work? What kind of companies might want to utilize more creative and narrative advertisements?
CD:Having confessed that I didn’t hold commercial applications in mind, they are still present. Campaigns such as The Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas, ‘the Bold look of Kholer’, and other more creative brands could utilize my work. Other commercial applications such as film/television promos, PSAs would be well suited too.
Thankfully, the lines separating advertising, editorial, fashion, fine art photography are often quite blurred and it is not unusual for photographers to get their commercial work as a result of their personal projects. Photographers like Gary Land, Jill Greenberg, Tim Tadder, and Formento & Formento come to mind as great creatives working in many realms.
LK: What is the process for making “Food Noir” photos? How much time typically goes into one shot and what is the editing process afterwards?
CD:Each image starts with a creative spark in my mind, perhaps a classic quote or scene, or a funny food situation (such as birds chasing crushed Cheetos on the sidewalk) Once I get that first spark, through some research and prep, I build the idea.
I set up in studio or interior location as controlling the light is very important for these looks. Shooting digital and tethering my camera to my computer enables me to get what I want with this self portraiture. All the elements, including myself, props, food, shadows and background plates when necessary, are captured in their ideal light and added to the final composite in post.
Shooting can take a day and post production is typically 2 days. I use Photoshop to build and perfect the composite and NiK software filters to get the final look.
LK: What made you decide to use yourself as your own model? Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to use someone else as a model to take out some of the post processing time?
CD: At first, I wanted to use models, as yes, it does make things so much easier. However, as scheduling with others proved difficult, I put myself into the shots. The more I worked past the logistics, the more it made sense. This body of work comes from my long complex relationship with food and though, I know Im not alone with my food issues, the self portraiture really had me own it. Another advantage to this self portraiture, I don’t hesitate to overdramatize or ham it up.
LK: Who were your biggest influences when creating this series?
CD: My biggest influence in this series is Stanley Kubrick. I love his fabulous 1964 dark comedy, Dr. Strangelove and how he channeled his anxiety about the cold war and created art. Then, of course, Cindy Sherman and her film stills series.
LK: Do you think that “Food Noir” is a finished project or do you hope to create more in the future?
CD: Food noir was so much fun to make, I hesitate to say I won’t shoot more. For now though, it is complete. I am prioritizing another project and a gallery show in Vancouver, BC later this year.
For more of Corinne DiPietro’s work please visit: http://www.corinnedipietro.com/