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Clearing the studio and the conscience in minutes!

On most afternoons, City Harvest London is contacted by food photographers and stylists around London, who are winding down their days and keen to prevent the abundant, high quality food left over from photo shoots to people facing hunger. Before City Harvest launched a few years ago, most of this food would have been placed in the bin and sent to landfill. We have experienced how rising awareness about both food waste and the convenient food rescue service we provide is transforming the food advert industry. We’ve been able to meet some of the top people in this field including the extremely talented Carl Warner, renowned for his foodscape art. Carl, in his own words, shares his thoughts on food waste and his interest in creating a work of art that depicts the food rescue role of City Harvest London.

“Working as a photographer and director in the advertising industry, I have always been aware of the amount of high quality food that goes to waste on food shoots in order to get that perfect shot. Whether it be for TV commercials, magazines, newspapers, food packaging or everyones favourite cook book, there is never just one plate of food to shoot. Food stylists order boxes of fruit and vegetables just to find the perfect specimen. A dozen or more chickens may be cooked so that several attempts can be made to carve the breast to surgical precision. Trays of potatoes are roasted in order to get the most golden colour and crispy texture. And at the end of it all when the shots are in the bag and the food is cold it usually all ends up in the bin."

"This situation however is hard to avoid. TV and photographic shoots are expensive productions and the food stylists responsible for buying and cooking the food need to make sure they don’t run out of food and it may take them several goes to something to look just right, as we as consumers respond well to aesthetically scrumptious looking food."

"To be fair, most shoots end up with the food stylist bagging up the leftovers for the crews to take home, and some of the cooked food can of course be eaten at the end of the day, but people can only carry a certain amount and most crews travel home by tube, bus or push bike, so what happens to the rest of the food on a large shoot I hear you ask?"

"Well this was the case for one of my shoots where I was creating a landscape made out of food for a well known supermarket. At the end of the day there was so much food left over that I could not bear to see it go to waste. So I rung around various homeless shelters but they had no-one available to collect the food, but more worryingly they were asking "what was wrong with the food?" as if we were trying to poison the homeless!"

"With the day drawing to a close and everyone looking to go home, my food stylist was given the number for City Harvest London. Within the hour a refrigerated van arrived with a very friendly driver who scooped up the crates of bread and boxes of fruit and veg, clearing both the studio and our consciences in minutes."

"As a way of saying “thank you” and in order to support this fine organisation I wanted to create one of my ‘Foodscapes’ for them, in the hope that the image can be used to promote awareness for what these wonderful people do, in order to collect good food from going to waste and in turn feed the poor and the homeless."

"So I had the idea of showing one of their vans driving through a landscape of food that was spilling out of a dustbin at the edge of a city of wheelie bins and refuse containers. This involved going to the City Harvest depot in order to shoot a van as well as some of the bins. Here I was fortunate enough to meet some of the volunteers and helpers who literally glowed with the satisfaction of doing something good for society and something rewarding with their lives."

"With the shots of van and bins in the bag I then turned to the magic of Photoshop in order to recycle the layers and images from previous works in order to create a new food landscape scene. By repurposing these elements I have ensured that the original food ingredients have been used once again for something more than just a meal."

"My hope is that the image will be used to champion their cause and raise both money and awareness for the City Harvest charity, as well as making a few people smile when they see what good can come from a dustbin!"

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