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These Delicious Cooking GIFs Are Infinite Food Porn

Cinemagraphs are now part of a balanced breakfast, thanks to the cinemagraphs of Daria Khoroshavina and Olya Kolesnikova.
Images courtesy the artists

When it comes to GIFs or Internet animations, the usual descriptor one thinks of isn't “mouth-watering.” But thanks to the Moscow-based photography duo of Daria Khoroshavina and Olya Kolesnikova, some incredibly appetizing cooking photographs are now looping the Internet. Their eye-popping and appetizing image collection, Cooking Cinemagraphs, appears on their Kitchen Ghosts blog, detailing the creation of meals and recipes such as pear and walnut strudel and french toast. Each of the ultra high-quality GIFs isolate one movement in the cooking process, like the storm cloud that forms when you pour milk into teah, and chocolate being drizzled onto palmiers. The results are at once captivating and sure to make your stomach growl.

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To gain better insight into the recipe for delicious that produces Cooking Cinemagraphs, The Creators Project spoke to Daria Khoroshavina of Kitchen Ghosts.

The Creators Project: Could you describe how the two of you came to work together on this project?

Daria Khoroshavina: I’m a photographer and have been for about seven years. I became friends with Olya because I taught her to photograph—she’s a photographer too. And so we became colleagues and we’ve started working on fashion shoots and lookbooks and portraiture… all kinds of stuff. And now we continue working together on this.

What about this project? How did this vision come about?

It’s actually a funny story because we started with our first [cinemagraph]… just for fun because I was searching for ideas and trying to find something new to make, and I suggested to Olya that I come over for dinner and shoot how she cooked something. Olya said, “oh, I have such beautiful bell peppers, they’re so beautiful, we can make something with those!” And so we made our first recipe… It was actually not as pretty as our recent works. Some of the cinemagraphs weren’t looped, but we still put it online and left it there for like five months. We were just having fun and liked the results but it didn’t grow into anything bigger until we started getting feedback.

Who were the earliest people giving you feedback?

Well first we put our cinemagraphs on Tumblr and we’d been getting lots of notes and messages saying all of these were so beautiful. We got some e-mails from people who work with GIFs asking what we were going to do with them. Are we making this a big thing, are we doing it regularly? We decided we needed to move on and make more, and then this January we decided we needed to make more recipes.

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Are you both food enthusiasts, or share the same passion for food?

Olya is a really a food enthusiast; she likes cooking and food and she has a designer background and she loves compositions and lighting and styles. And I’m more on the technical side. I like shooting cinemagraphs and I’m not the greatest cook (laughs). So that’s why I try to partner with people who are really passionate about cooking and preparing things. I think it’s really important to be passionate about what you do.

The name you have for your site is Kitchen Ghosts…Where did that come from?

That came with no reason at all. I was just putting up our cinemagraphs on Carbonmade, and I needed to slap on a name. I just thought about the kitchen and how food moves itself and I thought that that would work fine as a working title. But then people started re-blogging things and asking and I decided I didn’t want to change it because it’s part of the story.

What is the step-by-step process technologically for creating a cinemagraph?

I just love the concept of cinemagraphs. The process is very simple. I found a tutorial on a website: I shoot video on a tripod and use maybe 30 FPS, then I import it to my computer and then I cut it with After Effects into small pieces. And then I try to stitch pieces together or layer it up or reverse it—it’s always different for every picture. Then I import to Photoshop. We might do the color correction, the sharpening. Once I tried to describe it to a person who didn’t know anything about cinemagraphs or how they look and I just described it as you have a video and you put a photograph upon it and then you cut a hole where you need it to see the video. If you know how to use Photoshop, you just use layers for it. And also we have a friend at Flixel, a Canadian company that makes cinemagraphs not in GIF format, but in a video format. We are hoping to continue making our works in GIFs and Flixels both of them… because Flixels are more beautiful than GIFs.

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What is it about cinemagraphs that makes you so drawn to them?

I think as a photographer you always try to make your photograph memorable. You try to catch a viewer’s eye to make them watch it as long as they can and cinemagraphs are a cheat in this way. When you spot a movement you can’t stop watching it, and if you see a sequence of cinemagraphs you are solving a puzzle and finding movement and you’ve got the next one… Here’s the movement, you watch it for some time. I like this process—I think it’s captivating.

Do you think that photographing food in this way is especially captivating for a foodie viewer? Is there something about food specifically that you wanted to incorporate into this medium?

Sure, I think that food aspect is the second cheat here. It’s captivating in and of itself. You know… A beautiful ice cream, an iced coffee… You like this picture. When I started making cinemagraphs, I did fashion, portraiture, nature, but I didn’t like the result very much because in fashion you really need the color and texture, and it wasn’t very good in the GIF format. When I started shooting nature it turned out nice but I also didn’t like the process of being cold and so uncomfortable. And besides, we don’t have a lot of great scenery here in Moscow in nature.

How have people reacted to these cinemagraphs?

We were greatly surprised. I could not have believed that we would have gotten such feedback from people all over the world. We had our share of mean comments as well. At the beginning we were making recipes in a sequence where each cinemagraph was a step and people were taking one step and publishing it on their website and saying this one step is not emotionally evoking anything and I knew that, and that’s why we’re now developing our style, wanting each piece to have a style itself—to have a story and a finished ending

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How might the future of how we represent food be shaped by technology?

I can say that I believe that what we do defines the future. There will be more cinemagraphs in the future. I’ve been talking to people working in the “GIF industry,” if you can call it that, and they’ve been telling me that the last couple of years have been great for cinemagraphs—people have started to use them commercially. I think in food photography, it’s going to be a great change.

What’s the next step for you with this project? Where do you go from here? 

I immensely enjoy working on this project, but now that we are developing our style and it’s recognizable and unique I know we’re going to start working with other people, with food enthusiasts, with restaurants, with brands who can provide us with imagery we can shoot and make our cinemagraphs with those.

Visit Kitchen Ghosts for more of Daria Khoroshavina and Olya Kolesnikova's appetizing GIF art.

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