It started with a burger. Part of my college course covered the area of Corporate Photography and for the Product Shot, I took a picture of my son's burger over by the window in the restaurant. Yes, this is the sort of suffering my children have to put up with when out and about with me. They can't order food and expect to tuck in on its arrival. They have to wait while I try out a few variations on angles and lighting and then, usually once it's cold, they can eat. It teaches them patience. Ish.
Anyway, my lecturer liked my burger shot - it was the most effusive I've ever heard him. Said it constituted "professional level" photography. Once I'd picked myself up off the floor I had another look at it. Thought about what I'd done. And then when I included it in my portfolio for the application to the bigger Glasgow college, the bloke there called it "accomplished". Two people, much more qualified than I, liked it. And I do very much enjoy shooting foodie shots.
I have an interesting relationship with food. Until my mid twenties I was as skinny as a skinny thing on a fast day. Whatever I ate. Or drank. Then, after having kids, my weight crept up and up. I'd lose it all on a mad, strict-as-hell diet that saw me eating 1100 calories a day, writing every morsel down in a diary and forgoing all my beloved wine and chocolate and cheese completely. It worked brilliantly and each time I was able to slim back down to what I considered to be my normal size 8. Size 6 on a good day.
But I came to realise that this wasn't normal. It shouldn't be that a square of chocolate, the first in months, would put me into a spin of depression, make me feel like I had to starve myself the next day to make up for that transgression. How can one square of chocolate be such an awful crime? And I knew that, in my head, but I couldn't help myself. Then I'd feel faint and sick from not eating and the next day after that would be a total binge fest. Which would last six months or so until I'd gained three stone and had to start the process all over again.
I also came to realise that depression makes me eat and anti-depressants also make me eat. The first step was to come off the tablets and try to find other ways to keep my head going. The second step was to try and find a way to lose all this excess weight WITHOUT going on a majorly restrictive diet that I'd just end up rebelling against somewhere down the line. I want a life that allows me to eat a piece of camembert occasionally, and more importantly, enjoy it.
Someone mentioned a food diary, to keep track of what I'm eating. I've done that before though, and although it did make me stop and pause before I ate anything, it felt quite furtive. If I ate something that wasn't "on the diet" I'd write it down and feel shamed, and guilty. I wanted some way of recording what I eat that could be shared, and be out in the open and that actually would celebrate the joy to be had in good food and that might help me relearn a more positive approach to my health and diet. So the Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Project was born.
The basic idea is that I will take a photograph of everything I eat. Some of these shots will be nicely set up, lit, angled and given some post-exposure processing to produce what I hope will be attractive foodie photographs. Some, will probably be snapshots taken on my phone. All will be included in the project with no shame attached to bad photography or dodgy food choices - this is an exploration of my relationship with food as well as making it so that a quick "dip" into the fridge actually becomes a bit of a process and I have to be really sure I actually want that bit of cheese or that piece of toast - want it enough to be willing to wait and take a photograph.
How long will I be snapping my meals? I am not going to promise anything at this stage. It could be a week. Or a month. Or perhaps a week out of each month? Or four times a year. Or forever. Who knows. Let's see how it goes.