Announcement: Midterm Exam and Blogging on Class Website

Keep Calmp PhotoAs you all know Monday October 27th is our MIDTERM, and it’s also the beginning of the 7th week of class (mid-semester!) If you have yet to do so, you should study all the pictures listed on the short list (what’s important about each one, who made it, what’s it about, etc.).

Unfortunately, I will not be able to hold my office hours before class (I’ll be in an observation at that time). If you have any questions, please send them to me via email.

We decided last week that we’ll have 10 days to submit to all blog topics and the cut off will be Wednesday midnight (after your cooking and baking classes!).

Lastly, I am in the process of submitting mid-semester grades, which you will find on Blackboard. For some, I will need to wait until the midterm is graded before submitting a grade.

Possible mid-semester grades are:

P = Passing work

BL = Borderline

U = Unsatisfactory

SA = Stopped Attending

I usually issue a BL for attendance problems. Don’t forget that more than 2 absences will result in course failure since our class meets only once per week.

If you get a U, it’s because you didn’t submit a paper and have yet to blog on the class website (yes, papers and blogging are that important).

Extra credit assignments will be posted at the end of the week.

Week 7 Discussion Topic: Why Does It Look Delish?

A pie for the Fourth of July

A pie for the Fourth of July

This week I would like you to post an image of something delicious and talk about the pictorial qualities of the image that communicate “deliciousness.” For example, this is a picture of my husband’s July 4th pie that is half-strawberry rhubarb and half-blueberry. I think the glistening blueberries and strawberries with the runny, jam-like edges evoke the sweet syrupy coating of the baked fruit. The irregular edges of the pie crust and unevenly cut up strawberries reinforce the “homemade” quality of the pie, and people often assume that anything handmade must taste good.

I would like you to post a photograph that you have taken yourself rather than an image you find on the internet. Photographs taken with smartphones are perfect. Please resize the image when you upload it. Follow the instructions to resize your photo to smaller than 600 x 700 pixels here.

Please post your responses by Wednesday, October 29th.

Week 6 Discussion Topic: Picturing Breakfast Around the World

Typical kid's breakfast in Istanbul with brown bread, hardboiled egg, olives, tomatoes, cheese, jam, and honeyed butter.

Typical kid’s breakfast in Istanbul with brown bread, hardboiled egg, olives, tomatoes, cheeses, jam, and honeyed butter.

Last week the New York Times Magazine published a slideshow about what children eat for breakfast around the world. Read the article and share with your classmates your thoughts on breakfast as a meal. Do you think its essential? Are American breakfasts too sugary? In addition, please post a picture of something you think is essential for breakfast. If possible, please take a photograph with a smartphone or digital camera, resize and upload the photo along with your post. Follow the directions to resize your photo to smaller than 600 x 700 pixels here.

Read the NYTimes article “What kids around the world eat for breakfast.”

Please post your responses by Wednesday, October 22nd.

Week 5 Discussion Topic: Walker Evans’ Subway Portraits

Walker Evans’ photographed people on the New York City subways between 1938-1941. He only published these photographs 25 years later in his book, Many Are Called, which was re-issued in 2004. Read a review about the new edition in the New York Times or listen to a radio interview of the book’s re-release and a related exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then look at some of Evans photographs on the Getty website. What do you think of Evans’ clandestine approach to photography? Do you see similarities between the riders’ expressions during the Depression Era to today’s riders?

Walker Evans, Subway Couple

Walker Evans, Subway Couple

New York Times Book review

NPR interview with Met curator Jeff Rosenheim (audio)

Getty Collection of Walker Evans Subway Portraits

Please post your responses by Wednesday, October 20th.

Announcement: Updates and Deadlines

Clock Cake from

Clock Cake from

The latest slide lists have been uploaded under class files, including the “short list” for midterm (Monday October 27th at 11:30 am).

Don’t forget that will do not meet on Monday October 13, school is closed for Columbus Day.

We will meet on Monday October 20th, the day Writing Assignment #1 is due!

Week 4 Discussion Topic: Documenting Spiritualism

Shannon Taggart, Reverend Jean heals Jennifer, Lily Dale, NY

Shannon Taggart, Reverend Jean heals Jennifer, Lily Dale, NY

In class, we briefly touched on the beginnings of spirit photography. The contemporary photographer Shannon Taggart has photographed Lily Dale, the world’s largest Spiritualist community in western New York. Taggart gave a talk here at CityTech last spring on her work. Her photographic projects often focus on alternative types of religious experience. Taggart’s photographic work includes a project on the Haitian practice of Vodou right here in Brooklyn.

We will discuss the difficulty of producing religious imagery via photography (for example, look at F. Holland Day). For this post, I would like you to read an article of Taggart’s work in Slate and consider the difficulties of documenting spiritualism or any religious experience. Do you think such documentation possible? valuable? intrusive?

Click here for the article on Shannon Taggart’s photography “The World’s Hub for Spiritualism in a Tiny New York Town.”

You can explore her photography on her personal website here.

Please share your thoughts with your classmates by next Wednesday, October 8th.

Week 3 Discussion Topic: Photographing Food Texture

tex·ture          /ˈteksCHər/       noun

  1. the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or a substance.
Olivier Richon, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 2012 (from

Olivier Richon, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 2012 (from

This week we were introduced to the wet-plate collodion process of mid-nineteenth century photography. The photo historian Helmut Gernsheim once referred to this collodion era as the “culinary period” of photography (Gernsheim, 1969, 258). Aside from the sticky collodion that photographers like Roger Fenton and Mathew Brady applied to their glass plates, photographers tried all sorts of ingredients to keep the collodion moist for longer periods of time, including treacle, malt, raspberry juice, milk, licorice juice, chestnut juice, beer, tea, and coffee.

For this week, I ask you to think about the idea of texture in food, and how does one capture texture in a photograph. The key to communicating texture in photography is to pay careful attention to detail. In this week’s post, you get to practice taking a photograph, re-sizing it, and uploading it to our class website. For example, look at the photograph by contemporary photographer Olivier Richon and note how it gives you a strong sense of the texture of the fish. Take a food-related photo (something you made or saw), resize it (follow the directions on how to resize you photo to smaller than 600 to 700 pixels here) and upload your photo to the class site with a short passage describing the texture of your photo.

Lastly, this week we also talked about the albumen process that makes use of egg whites. What happened to all those egg yolks? You can click here to see a recipe for a 19th-century photographer’s cheesecake.


My apologies for the late posting, I thought I already posted this week’s discussion topic. Because of the delay, I have extended the deadline for posting by another week.


Week 2 Discussion Topic: Civil War Food and Coffee!

Union soldiers cooking dinner in camp, Army of the Potomac, 1861-1865

Union soldiers cooking dinner in camp, Army of the Potomac, 1861-1865

If you had a choice, which would you give up? Food? Or coffee? This coming week, we will look at photography of the Civil War and the difficulties of producing photographs during war. To help better understand the conditions that photographers worked in, in this week’s blog topic we will explore what Civil War soldiers ate and their dependence on coffee. The typical food ration for a Union soldier included small amounts of meat, coffee, and hardtack (what’s hardtack? Look here to find out.) The Union side half-jokingly believed coffee helped fuel their soldiers. Meanwhile, the Confederate South suffered vast food shortages due to strong Union blockades, and resorted to unique recipes (called receipts in the 19th century) to produce coffee substitutes. Read about cooking on the battlefront and the importance of coffee (the word ‘coffee’ appears more frequently than ‘rifle’ or ‘bullet’ in Civil War diaries).

Share what you think is most fascinating about a Civil War soldier’s diet AND post an image of a food item that you cannot live without. You can link to a photo on the web, or take a picture!

Read about what Union soldiers ate at

Read the NYT’s article “How Coffee Fueled the Civil War” 



Week 1 Discussion Topic: Taking Pictures of Food

My own example of food photography: Duck confit and potatoes at Brasserie Mollard in Paris

My own example of food photography: Duck confit and potatoes at Brasserie Mollard in Paris

I usually begin the blog in the History of Photography class with a New York Times article by the art critic Roberta Smith who is dismayed with the increasing use of cameras, especially cellphones by viewers when interacting with art. I ask my students to share their opinions about taking pictures of pictures but for our Art of Food learning community, I want to know what you think of the more prevalent practice of taking pictures of food. Read the NYT article “First Camera, Then Fork” on people who take pictures of food and then display them online. Taking pictures of food is so common nowadays that the comedian Adam Sacks produced a spoof commercial when the iPhone 5 was released that highlighted food photography. There are numerous tumblr and flickr groups dedicated to food like the flickr “I Ate This.”

Read the “First Camera, Then Fork” NYT article here.

Watch a parody ad of the “iPhone 5” for Food Photography

Share what you think about taking pictures of food, you may post an image if you wish.

Don’t forget to log in to your OpenLab account (you need an active CityTech email account to register/confirm your OpenLab account) and join the class (request membership!) in order to add a blog post.

See instructions on how to “post” and “comment” under “Blogging Guidelines” above.


Looking at Food, Looking at Photography

Hong Yi, cucumber landscape

Hong Yi, cucumber landscape

Welcome! If you’re here, then you’re probably enrolled in “The Art of Food” Learning Community. We are three classes that will go through the Fall 2014 semester together. All students are enrolled in Prof Cheng’s History of Photography ARTH1100-D401 class and either Prof Garcelon’s Culinary I HGMT 1203-D422 or Prof Jacus’s Baking & Pastry I HGMT 1204-D428 class. This website is where you’ll submit much of your discussion and work for my History of Photography class. Although I’ll be grading your work here, Professors Garcelon and Jacus will be looking in too, as well as commenting and participating. You will get many opportunities to think about what you produce in Culinary I and Baking & Pastry I in artistic terms, and better understand the history of an ever-changing medium.

I look forward to meeting you in class. Look around, and check back frequently as I develop our class site, and please do  not hesitate to contact me.