Finding Inspiration with Food Photographer Ilva Beretta.

Posted on 20th December 2020 in General

Ilva Beretta Art
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The importance of slowing down.

My name is Ilva Beretta and I work as a professional food photographer. Although always a profession where work can be sporadic, the current COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated just how erratic things can be. It can be hard finding yourself in lockdown and staying home with very little social or creative input which can potentially create a sad place when it comes to photography.

When I find myself in these interim moments I often turn my attention to fine art still life photography, where I have time to develop my ideas. With still life it is important to slow right down, to ponder and take your time.  For me, still life photography is the perfect thing to work on when times are tough.

I like to use food as a subject as it is something which we can all relate to. Life depends on food. Food accompanies us from the beginning of our existence to the end. It is, therefore, a relevant subject to work with although, despite it being so fundamental to life as such that it has no real status as a metaphor, it just exists, a banal presence, necessity or pleasure which makes it a very interesting and flexible motif to use in order to express the themes I have chosen.

At times I draw inspiration from photographers of the past, sometimes by a concept or topic that disturbs me. Below you will find a few photos from some of the series I have done, if you want to see more you can visit my page or

Got a taste to see more?

Grapes (6000 B.C.) and Telephone (1970’s). From the series Juxtaposition.

The series explores the timelessness of the food that nurtures us as juxtaposed to consumer goods. By juxtaposing everyday food that has accompanied human for hundreds if not thousands of years to technology, I wanted to show the contrast between the constancy of what we really need and the torrent of devices and gadgets that quickly go out of date and are substituted with newer versions, all due to our consumer economy. The series received a Silver award at 2018 Px3 Paris Photography Prize in the Fine Art Still Life category.

Artichoke from the series “Corners. An Irving Penn Tribute”

It’s a series of food 'portraits' inspired by Irving Penn's famous corner portraits. The restricted area of the corner and the way it frames the subjects underlines and emphasises their intrinsic forms and nature, it allows the viewer to see and appreciate the natural grace and interesting forms of the vegetables and fruits 'portrayed'. The series was shortlisted in the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards and two of the photos took part of the exhibition in London.

Electricity. (Introducing a current to a victim via an electrical device is a common torture practice.) From the series Natura Mortale.

In this series of still lifes, I have worked with the contraposition between the domesticity of the setup of each still lifes and the terrifying traces of violence that are taking place all over the world, be it for political or criminal reasons. What appears to be the subject of the still life is in reality only the first layer of the image; when the viewer looks further into it, she/he will see instruments used for different methods of torture. The shadows and the darkness are symbolic of the hidden violations of human rights that are taking place in the world every day. Selected for the ADDIS FOTO FEST 2020 (due to Covid now 2021) Finalist SIPA 2019, Shortlisted Athens Photo Festival 2019, Honorable Mention Fine Art Category IPA 2019, Honorable Mention Fine Art Category TIFA 2019, published on Dodho July 2019

Dentex. From the series Shadows.

What is a memory if not a shadow of the object remembered? The series was initially inspired by one of Edward Steichen’s photos of Fred Astair from 1927 but it evolved into a shadow of that memory and took a rather different form, i.e. still lifes of food.

Tin of Fish. From the series Simplicity.

The series “Simplicity” is a modern interpretation of the Dutch Renaissance still life genre with its attention to light and its predilection of common subjects but whereas the traditional approach is to set up scenes crammed with various objects, I have stripped down the composition to a more minimal format, giving the subject and the light the central role.