Watching the Clock With Martha

I’ve got to admit that I’m not a regular reader of Martha Stewart Living. I don’t buy very many “women’s” magazines at all, so this may very well be a trend that has been on the go for some time now. But yesterday I was in a magazine shop flipping through stuff and the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living was especially disturbing. A visit to the website reveals the same. Almost all of the food photographs have been taken from above. The “clock shot” has reared its ugly head.

From its very inception MSL broke new ground when it came to food photography. Stewart’s whole schtick was clean, tidy, and organized paired with rich yet classic elements. This was not only obvious in the magazine’s recipes but in the photographs of the food. MSL set the standard for many, many years in terms of how magazines styled and shot their food articles. It was the MSL photographers who turned on their macro settings and got us in there to see the crumb of a cake, the glistening crispy skin of a roast chicken, the grain of a slice of roast beef or the detail work of a spectacularly decorated cookie. “Food porn” originated in the MSL studios where they managed to make food look sexy well before anyone else ever thought of it that way.

MSL was the inspiration not only for every other food magazine, cooking show and blog that followed in its footsteps, but it made us all strive to not only become better cooks, but better food photographers.

Which is why the shot from above place setting is so disturbing.

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