New England-based photographer Jen Drociak is fascinated by highly-processed foods. For her series This Is Food? High Fructose Corn Syrup and Other Additives, Jen turns the camera on popular edibles like fruit leathers, frozen TV dinners, and sugar-packed yogurt.
Drociak wished to explore the idea of what passes as “food” in this country, and the decisions we make when feeding ourselves and our children. We chatted with Drociak and asked more about the inspiration behind the series.
What are you trying to say with these images?
Through this series, I wanted to explore the idea of what we call “food,” and what we choose to fuel our bodies or the bodies of our children with. The highly-manufactured items which I photograph have little-to-no nutritional value, and little-to-no ingredients that the consumer can recognize or even pronounce. Brightly-colored “foods,” and foods that come in shapes that do not resemble the whole food from which they came (smile fries, for example), also intrigue me.
I became a vegetarian at the age of 12, was a vegetarian until the age of 28, and have been a vegan for the past 10 years. I have always been interested in the politics and the mass production of food, and have been fairly health conscious since a young age. I am inspired by such thought-provoking individuals such as Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle.
What is the process behind creating the photos, and what camera do you use?
I use a Canon D7 SLR with a Sigma 18-55 lens. I photograph on a Manfrotto tripod, a double-bubble level, laser level, and typically between f11 and f22. These photographs were shot under ambient window light on a white background.
Is photography your day job?
Photography is not my day job. I am trained as a water quality/aquatic biologist but currently work as a compliance specialist for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. I have a degree in Environmental Conservation.
I started college in 1994 as an English and Journalism major, then switched to studio art, and then exited college with a degree in science. I almost left art behind for 10 years, but enrolled in a photography program with the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2008 and graduated in 2012. I have been working seriously on my photography portfolios since.