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- Thursday, 19 September 2013 14:16 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
Isabelle Rozenbaum was assistant to Jean Louis Bloch-Lainé for two years before launching her own independent photo studio in 1983 with Frederic Cirou. In 1994, she co-founded PhotoAlto library with the latter where she was the artistic director until 2001. After that she completely devoted herself to her job as a photographer, especially with chef Guy Martin, with whom she created her first culinary books. Sometimes referred to as an “ethno-culinary” photographer, Isabelle has published many books with different chefs and authors through such publishers as Editions de La Martinière, Minerva, Agnes Viénot, The Oak, Marabout, and South West, many of which were awarded a "World Cookbook Award" or the price "Jean-Charles Taugourdeau," "Guerlain," "Ladurée," and "Antonin Carême."
In 2008, she took a new approach to the culinary world through video, making Thierry Michel Bettane Desseauve’s first stories in French vineyards. She continues this work in the wine world, most notably with the owner of Château Fonroque (Saint Emilion) and Alain Moueix and Château Lagrange (Saint-Julien). In 2009, Isabelle extended this work into the worlds of literature and contemporary art, where she made portraits of artists and writers for the online publishing platform D-Fiction. Isabelle also continues to lead culinary photographic studios.
As part of her work, Isabelle developed in 1991 a photographic series related to intimate self-portraits and the world of sleep. Her achievements in video production also echo her photographic series. She has made many films where we find questions and concepts centered around identity and sleep, such as "Two Trees” (2009) and "Diplopia" (2009), or in her serial work on dreams associated with colors, such as "White Dream" (2010), "Red Dream " (2011), and “Black Dream" (2012).
Isabelle’s photographs and her videos have been showcased in exhibitions and at festivals in cities such as New York, Paris, Sofia, Bienne, and London. Her work is in the collections of the National Library of France (BNF), the Library of Contemporary International Documentation (CID), and in private collections.
- Tesi: Being a food photographer is a creative profession many people dream of having, but it is certainly not easy to stand out in this field. What motivated you to become a photographer, and how did you discover your talent?
Isabelle: (laughs) Sometimes you don’t make a decision. It’s more that life decides for you. I started with classical photography. After awhile, one of my clients asked me if I would like to do a shoot with foie gras and wine. So it was that food photography more came to me than I came to food photography.
I love that taking pictures of food is always new and always a challenge. I remember a shoot with ice cream while it was 37°C degrees (99°F) outside. The ice cream was melting more quickly than I could position the camera!
I never work with artificial material. I like the taste, the smell, and the texture of food. Food is never just food. Food represents the relationship between people and cultures. To capture that in pictures is a challenge that I like very much! My latest book is a personal book: The Culinary Body (http://www.editions-d-fiction.com/les-corps-culinaires-the-culinary-body).
2. Tesi: What are the top three pictures you are most proud of, and can you give us some background on those pictures?
Picture 1: Ho Chi Min, Vietnam
Picture 2: Ho Chi Min, Vietnam
Picture 3: Ho Chi Min, Vietnam
I took these three photographs in Vietnam. Street food is the best food for me when I travel. It’s easy to eat all day long. When I photograph scenes like the above, I look for the beauty of the gestures and dishes and the strangeness of the situation.
3. Tesi: What does good food mean to you?
Isabelle: Une bonne nourriture pour moi est celle qui donne envie. Vouloir bien manger est une philosophie de vie. J'en ai pris conscience aux côtés de nombreux chefs et dans mes voyages à l'étranger. Je suis très influencée par ce que j'ai vu et photographié depuis de nombreuses années. Les cuisines Thaï, Indienne, et Vietnamienne sont celles que je cuisine la plupart du temps dans mon quotidien. Je cherche tout le temps un subtil équilibre de saveurs et de textures, un plaisir des yeux et des papilles.
Good food for me is the one that makes you want. Wanting to eat well is a philosophy of life. I realized this along with many leaders and in my travels abroad. I am very influenced by what I saw and photographed over many years. The Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese cuisines are the ones I cook most of the time in my daily life. I always try for a subtle balance of flavours and textures, a feast for the eyes and taste buds.