The Photographer Who Dares to Make Food Look Gross

Martin Parr's unglamorous photographs couldn't be less "on trend" in our age of social media over-filtering. But what they are is refreshingly original and real—and pretty funny.

Gross.

That's the first word that comes to mind when attempting to describe Martin Parr's close-up photographs of food. And that also happens to be what makes the images so compelling. The title of the British photographer's new book, Real Food, gives us a good idea of what he's up to here. It's packed with deliberately garish photographs of food from around the globe, frequently looking less than appetizing, no matter how hungry you may be when you crack it open.

Parr is known for work that addresses mass culture and consumerism in unexpected ways. The goal of his food photography is to capture the specific weirdness of what people actually eat. Real Food is a catalog of authentic fare from around the world—everywhere from Las Vegas, Miami, and Milwaukee to Accra, Beijing, Delhi, Cairo, and Glasgow. Think: cold cuts, sliced bread, hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, gravy, and every variety of sausage imaginable. (And, of course, Jell-O.)

It's the decidedly unglamorous cuisine that captures Parr's imagination—and the result is captivating.


Below, see a selection of Parr's unique photography—a refreshing antidote to the overly anesthetized food porn we've all seen plenty of in our social feeds. (If you're guilty of this, remember: it's never too late to post something gross-looking!)

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

America the Beautiful Cookie Cake

"New York City, New York, USA," 2001

The Sugar Addict's Hot Dog

"Tokyo, Japan," 1998

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

"I'll Have the…Two Slices of Bread, Please"

"Merthyr Tydfil, Wales," 1995

100% Perfectly Expired Cookies

"Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales," 2003

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Fresh Cut Flowers and Canned Meat in Tokyo

"Tokyo, Japan," 2000

Real Food by Martin Parr (Phaidon), $25, phaidon.com.

More from sweet: