Far from the food and travel porn certain among your friends and colleagues inevitably facebook, tweet, instagram, or whatever… Puxan BC uses photography and video to tell personal stories through movement and everyday interaction with what we eat. His colorful work focuses on the details, the intimate sensory experience of seeing people cook in their own environment, playing out their singular relationships to ingredients that are dear to them. Out with the how-to ingredients list or that smug voice telling us what’s chic or where their chicken came from, and in with the unadulterated experience of the moment, of people creating and enjoying food.[vimeo https://vimeo.com/68053673 w=700&h=394]
How did you get into travel videos and photographing food? Has food influenced the way you travel?
My mother raised my brother and I in Bayonne in the South (of France), and she was always in the kitchen cooking. Everyday coming back from school I’d be looking forward to the meal she’d have ready. I was always into food – first at home with my mother and then my godmother, who was into French gastronomy exposed me to that world when I was young. Must have been 7 or 8. I was into food from a young age and I remember wanting to be a chef when around that time.
Life happened and I went into other different directions with my studies at AUP but I started taking my photography more seriously, and mixing both together around the time I graduated. I knew I wanted to go back to my creative side and pursue photography and videography, which I learned the basics in a journalism class. But, I didn’t know through which format. I thought of journalism for a while after a Broadcast Journalism course. I know that the film industry isn’t for me per se, because I like to catch moments rather than to script. It’s a whole other world. That’s where the food interest comes from, growing up and being exposed to different food cultures, and just loving to eat with family and friends at different gatherings. You know… Christmas, Diwali, just like everyone. So I took it a step further and started concentrating on that.
How do you translate this gustative sensation visually? What’s the affinity between seeing and tasting?
For me it’s the perfect mix of all the senses. When you’re eating, you smell it, you feel it, you see it, you hear it when its being made. It’s a great experience, the sizzling sound of food cooking, the boiling sounds and cutting sounds. It always reminds you of a certain experience, a certain family get together, something very personal. The way I translate it in video is by focusing on the technique, the hands, the product itself. Not so much on the recipe. I don’t really care about writing a recipe down and telling you to put 200 gr. of this or that. I like to focus on the process from the beginning to the end result.
How does your interest in food work with the Travel Moments series?
The Travel Moments series just started when I got a camera that did video, so I just started filming more and editing it together. I realized that when I traveled, I filmed food a lot. That was at a point where I wasn’t doing any food videos, but a lot of food always came back in my rushes. When you travel you discover new foods, so I liked introducing it through the videos because its always been a big part of traveling for me.
Food absolutely influences my travel. For my next project I am going to southeast Asia for five months, leaving in November and the idea is to go there to really link the food aspect and Travel Moments together for the first time. So the idea is that I’ll be traveling through the food, basically; looking at the cultures I come across and seeing their relationship to the food they eat. Food is important. Its at the center of every culture. This will really put the two ideas together from the origin. The original Travel Moments started with me traveling through Europe with a GoPro and my iPhone, filming the experiences along the way and then piecing everything together. Since then, I started to take the videos more seriously here in France and working on different projects. The goal is now to mix in the food with the Travel Moments.
Would you say that you have a particular approach to photographing food?
I like the macro aspect of food, to focus on the detail. So, technically its a lot of macro shots, I go straight for the cooking technique and highlighting the quality of the products. If you like cooking, its great to see a finished dish, you know, there are a lot of photos online of delish dishes, and thats a great thing. But I like to see what the person was doing, how they approach things, because everyone has their own techniques and relationship to the food, the ingredients. The videos I do are not with professionals chefs really, so it isn’t perfect technique; and everyone has their own new trick they bring to the table. For me its all about assembling the dish. I’m interested in the idea of starting with raw ingredients, and then see how each person shapes them into a dish. Because you can give the same ingredients to two different people and they’ll come up with two completely different dishes.
So you’re documenting the interaction of people and food more than the food itself.
Oh yeah. When I film a recipe, its like doing a profile on the person through the way they approach food. I’m not trying to psycho analyze or anything, but it just highlights a certain side of the person. You meet a lot of people, but when you see them in the kitchen its a very personal moment. You get to learn a bit more, and sometimes you’ll be surprised by the way they cook and the attention they bring to the process. Plus it’s always good to get to know someone over a dish they have prepared for you!
What is one of your favorite culinary experiences that you’ve filmed or photographed?
It was probably in India a few years ago. We had this thing called Paan. It’s a sweet treat you have at the end of your meal for digestion. Its made with a Paan leaf which comes from a certain kind of tree. They put a mix of different kinds of dried fruit, spices, lime paste and sometimes tobacco; but I usually choose ones without tobacco. So, they have these stands everywhere in the north of India mostly where the sell them. Paan walahs its called. One of my favorite experiences was seeing this guy in Mumbai making them on the side of the street. He had his trays, and so many different ingredients that I couldn’t even tell you what they were. I was watching him pouring the jelly, pouring these little fruits, spices, cardamom on a silver leaf, folding it up; and it was just great. I filmed the process and snapped a few pictures, and it’s stayed with me ever since. A quick break from a family visit, the perfect pitstop after a meal. When the locals saw me filming, they must have been surprised, like “Why is this important? We have this every day.” But for me, it’s those everyday moments that I like to capture.