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© Matthieu Lavanchy

Work / Photography

Matthieu Lavanchy recreates food emojis “irl” for The Gourmand’s tenth issue

The Gourmand is a biannual food and culture journal featuring 120 pages of “specially commissioned content – not to be found elsewhere, in either sentiment or execution". The publication, founded in 2011 by David Lane and Marina Tweed, has become well known for its witty and inventive representation of the world of food.

This playful reputation can largely be attributed to The Gourmand’s covers, with previous editions featuring The Cookie Monster, hotdog smiley faces or plastic chips and ketchup. The magazine’s tenth issue continues this tongue-in-cheek attitude with Swiss photographer Matthieu Lavanchy bringing some of the world’s most-loved food emojis to life in his cover story irl.

The shoot is deceptively simple featuring single colour backgrounds and one “emoji” per shot. The replication of everything from the lighting to the angle the “emoji” sits at, creates such a likeness that the images almost become an optical illusion.

David Lane and Hannah Meri Williams art directed the shoot and approached Matthieu due to his aptitude for still life photography. Although working on a variety of projects, including fashion photography and reportage, Matthieu’s work tends to revolve around objects and abstract compositions. This can be seen in some of Matthieu’s recent work for Novembre Magazine, which we recently featured.

Alongside food stylist Seiko Hatfield, the team discussed whether they should pick “the more iconic emojis or go for the more obscure ones that you don’t use that often, like the sweet potato,” explains Matthieu. Having settled on the most well recognised, the team proceeded to recreate the banana, peach, coffee cup, avocado, ice cream, cheese and aubergine. “We did shoot the lollipop and doughnut but those didn’t make the cut,” Matthieu tells It’s Nice That. The resulting story pokes fun at our culture in a light-hearted manor, bringing humour to the often serious and commercial world of food photography.

Other features in the issue include Garb which sees the staff at The Savoy, London captured “in all their starched finest” by photography duo Sofie Middernacht and Maarten Alexander; Kelly Maclean exploring the healing power of food when coping with loss and mourning alongside illustrations by João Fazenda in Soul Food; and Mature Dating in which Ellie Robertson and photographer Victoria Held-Hutchinson explore the London restaurants that “are definitely older than you, and have been pulling in the punters for at least 101 years”.

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© The Gourmand

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