No matter the genre, clever approaches for photography projects are always interesting and inspiring to see. When it comes to food photography, for example, I’m always impressed with concepts that reinvent or re-imagine food and food items into something totally unexpected.

Of course, mouthwatering food snaps never go out of style, but out-of-the-box approaches are sure to make us rethink food and out relationship with it. Case in point is a 2018 project by Beijing-based food photographer and visual designer Yum Tang, who used different food ingredients for crafting clever visual comparisons.

Using food to realize dreams

On her project statement, Yum said that she always thought that food would only be the stuff of dreams for food artists, foodies, chefs or photographers. However, she eventually realized that food can also become a force to realize dreams. Hence, she came up with the title “Food Dreaming” for the project.

The concept is simple yet brilliant. Together with FF Agency for art direction and Lito for styling, Yum used some of the most common ingredients in Chinese cuisine to bring to life the dreams of some kids in rural China. A little girl dreams of having a doll, while another wants a piano of her own. A little boy wanted to have his own basketball, another asked for a chair he could use comfortably in school. Two other boys wanted a hat and a school bag.

Yum and her team then used their visual design skills to put together a potato teddy bear, a piano made of black and white rice, a red and black bean basketball, a sugar cane chair, a hat made of peanuts and a school bag made of red dates. Of course, she let the kids join in the fun to realize their dreams using food!

Making an impact with clever food photography

Aside from its visual impact, this cleverly thought out project is also noteworthy for the symbolism it brings to the table. For the kids she involved in the project, their dreams, no matter how simple, may be difficult to realize because of their situation. She said that in rural China, 25% of agricultural products cannot be sold every year. This is a major setback since local farmers rely mainly on agricultural products to fund their living expenses.

Still, my hope is that through this creative exercise, she was able to inspire them to turn to creativity to make their own dreams happen. While a food basketball, school bag or teddy bear isn’t at all the same as the stuff they wanted, it may be a poignant visual metaphor for all the possibilities they can craft with their own hands.

“Dreams, big or small, even if they are just a bunch of unsold food, can weave and realize dreams.”

Don’t forget to check out Yum Tang’s Behance portfolio to see more of her food photography.

All photos by Yum Tang. Used with Creative Commons permission.