Show Me Your Food Porn: Michael Harlan Turkell

The photographer behind some of Edible Magazine's most memorable shots talks about the photo assignment that started it all and shooting on the fly.

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Kids, doing your homework pays off—just look at photographer Michael Harlan Turkell. His story begins with a simple assignment for his photo documentary class. While working as an aspiring cook in Boston, Turkell brought along his camera, shooting all aspects of the restaurant industry to complete his project. That small homework assignment ended up laying the groundwork for his Back of the House series, later featured in Edible magazines and eventually nominated for a James Beard award. Talk about extra credit.

Since his literal back of the house days, the Brooklyn-based shutterbug has gone on to photograph for the Edible magazines, Tasting Table, and a number of cookbooks. Even with the busy life of a photographer, he hosts his own show on the Heritage Radio Network, The Food Seen. Of course we’re major fans of that too, but it is Turkell’s chef-honed creativity and infectious zeal for all things food that really got our attention, not to mention our appetite.

From slathering and shooting jams on opaque boards for Laena McCarthy’s Jam On to capturing the craft of Chris Cosentino’s well-marbled meats at Incanto, Turkell gives due credit to the chefs and ingredients he works with as well as injecting a dose of fun into his favorite food images. Shooting Sara Jenkins’ salivating porchetta and the classic, yet surprisingly elusive hot dogs from Gray’s Papaya is all in a day’s work for Turkell—if only all school assignments led to such delicious ends (for the record, we’d take that porchetta over an A any day).

Follow Michael Harlan Turkell on Instagram (@harlanturk), and check out his website: harlanturk.com.

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