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Work / Photography

Sad lunches and awkward eating faces: Brian Finke captures desktop dining

Lunching at your desk is never a glamorous affair; crumbs gather in your keyboard, mayo gets smeared on your mouse and the reality of spending more time at your desk at work than at home slowly sets in as you gulp down the low fat yoghurt you bought as a “treat”. Capturing the banality, misery and tediousness of eating at your desk is American photographer Brian Finke for The New York Times Magazine earlier this year. Known for his bold, colour-saturated style of photography, like the bodybuilders we showed last year, here Brian manages to elevate the act of eating a sandwich next to a computer into a cinematic affair. Brashly lit with the focus solely on the eater and their lunch, never has a Tesco meal deal seemed so compelling. 

“The series is a look at contemporary office lunches and I photographed a wide range of offices in the US from trading floors in New York City, TV production places in New Jersey, law firms in Chicago, tech companies in San Francisco and special effects studios in Los Angeles,” explains Brian. “I had complete freedom to shoot whatever people were eating and wherever they were around the offices.” Brian’s commission accompanied an article in The New York Times Magazine that dissected the phenomenon of desktop dining and the culture that’s formed around it.

A hotchpotch of classic office spaces are photographed with people eating an array of food ranging from greasy takeaways, limp homemade sandwiches, and shop-bought pasta pots, all with various foodie accoutrements like hot sauce, side salads and fruit cups. Throughout Brian captures the “wonderful awkwardness of people multitasking eating and working,” which is perfectly epitomised in one shot as a woman manages to simultaneously hold a slice of pizza while navigating her mouse. It’s these genuine moments that Brian has found that makes this series so brilliant: “I always feel one cannot make it up as great as it can be found, reality is the best,” says Brian.  

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine

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Brian Finke: Desktop Dining, The New York Times Magazine