We speak to the duo behind Wardrobe Snacks, a photo-series inspired by monochrome clothes and informal dining
There’s something undeniably pleasing about encountering a person dressed from head to toe in a single colour. “Real geniuses” is what San Fransisco-based photographer Kelsey McClellan and Ohio-based set and prop stylist Michelle Maguire call those they notice at a bus stop or flea market effortlessly pulling off the full look. It’s these everyday muses who have inspired the pair’s new photo-series, Wardrobe Snacks – an amusing yet sleek collection which takes inspiration from informal diners, from the commuter on a crowded bus pulling out a snack from a bag, or “a lunch-breaker on a park bench eating from her lap,” as well as from Michelle’s very own stepdad, who “rests his sandwich on his thigh between bites”.
Aiming to capture the zen-like state of snackers on the go, the two have created a striking set of images using only minimal equipment, and shooting at one another’s homes. “We’d start by setting out all the props and materials for each shot, and then go through each option to see what felt right together in the frame,” McClellan explains. “We liked making up small narratives for each shot – envisioning where this person eating a pink wafer might be – to inform the poses. The idea was to just play around with colour and texture to create a series of casual monochromatic ‘sets’ – in this case, zoomed-in views of a very specific section of a body.”
It's the attention to detail which makes this concept work so well. Everything from the perfectly co-ordinated choice of foods, to the bitemarks, to the bashfully tucked-in arms, is executed with the utmost precision. It’s no surprise to hear that colour and food are two of Maguire’s greatest loves. “Some of the foods shown – Sicilian-style pizza, for example – are actually my favourite snacks,” she tells us. “Others, like the Zero bar, I slip in simply for nostalgic reasons, or because they’re beautiful.” The most entertaining part of the whole process was deciding which edible prop will become the star of the show, she continues. “Sometimes I’m stumped to think up a food item that’s grey, and then Kelsey will shout: ‘OYSTER!’”
The two friends, who first met while working on Jeni Britton Bauer’s Splendid Ice Creams cookbook, have been working together on various personal projects for several years now, in spite of the fact that they live 2,500 miles apart. “When we see each other, three to four times a year, we cram in as many shoots as possible,” Maguire explains. The two collaborators dream of one day working together full-time. “Even now that I live in San Francisco, I try to convince Michelle to move here every day, so we can always be working together!” says McClellan. Until then, the duo’s latest serving is definitely a project worth savouring.