Teaching Materials - Exercise

Food Modification

Name of Artist Educator: Doreen Chan
Excercise Category: Photographer's eye, Technical exercise

A name of food could arouse our familiarity to its smell, appearance, taste and function. It enables us to recognise it. But how does it look like before it is recognised as our food? Are there any other possibilities?

Concept / Inspiration:

A name could arouse our familiarity to its smell, appearance and taste. However, concepts along with the name are just for the purpose of recognition. We have never had a closer look to its pattern, to feel its touch nor to understand how seasons would have changed it. We thought that we may have had full understanding of the object. This is maybe because we generally believed that food can only be food. Perhaps our senses towards the stimulations coming from the outer world have long become apathetic. Starting from the basics of creation, we need to refresh the five senses in order to taste the fineness of everything in our environment.

Food has given us a wide range of sensational stimulations. It is also a kind of necessity in our daily life. We deconstruct it gradually in order to recognize what it was and its appearance before turning into our food. This is to activate the daily observing power. This exercise also teaches some stage photography skills to enable the students to transform their findings of food into art works.


  1. To allow students to make use of the five senses to perceive the things they have been so familiar with in their daily life.
  2. To strengthen the attention and outsight of the students towards the things that students would generally overlook most of the time.
  3. To practise the skills of still-life shooting and to obtain the skills of using small tool for lighting.

Materials / Equipment:

  • Large-sized drawing paper (1 per group), pencil, colour pencil (applicable in “The five senses about food”)
  • Banana, dragon fruit ( 3 ), plate, A3 paper, tools (scouring pad, toothpick, straw, fork, knife, dental floss, peeler, spoon ) (applicable in “Deconstruct the banana”; this is the package for one student only but the dragon fruit could be shared, i.e. in the demonstration, 3 dragon fruit is shared among 7 students)
  • Food, tools for cutting and containers (plate, bowl, toothpick, fork, knife, dental floss, peeler, spoon) (applicable in “Food modelling competition”)
  • Lamp, large-sized paper ( 1 ), tracing paper ( 1 ) (applicable in “Food modelling competition”)



Workshop Description:

Part One │ The five senses about food (15 minutes)

Aims: To allow the students to use those 5 senses to experience the things from their daily life.

Students form into groups of three. Instructor shows a picture of food to two of the group members. They have to make use of their senses and describe the characteristics of the food verbally (e.g. colour, textures, tastes, etc.) During the process, they are not allowed to tell the name of the food. The member who does not know what the food is have to turn all the information into visual elements and displays it on the paper until he/she can figure out the answer.


Part Two | Deconstruct the banana (60 minutes)

Aims: To allow students to deconstruct the common food, and to comprehend it again.

  1. Each student is given one banana, with the use of the cutting tools (e.g. toothpicks, straws and forks), they have to break down the banana into the different element. Sort out the smallest element of the banana. The smaller the better.
  2. With the deconstructed banana, students have to collage it with dragon fruit on a piece of white paper. Students could also be encouraged to first understand the fruits in different aspects. (e.g. lines, textures, etc.) in order to make and interesting matching instead of mixing the fruits randomly.


Part Three │ Food modelling competition (around 120 minutes)

Aims: To allow students to have a closer look on the layers and fineness of the food in the process of cooking. Students are able to understand more about the importance of lighting through the process of photo shooting. The position of the light source would affect the appearance of the food. Students could therefore understand there is a distance between the visual and actual image.

  1. Students need to prepare one or two of their favourite kind of food for making dishes (tips: something that is light and does not need cooking).
  1. Making poster for food. Students could use tools, such as tracing paper with lamp, to practise the skills of still-life shooting. They have to observe how the lights could make over the shapes of the objects in order to create a certain kind of atmosphere.
  1. At the end, instructor and students need try those dishes and vote for different prizes. (i.e. The most delicious one, the most special one, the most creative one, the one with the most layers, the best shooting.)


Note 1: Students will have to control the duration of making dishes. Students should be allowed to have more time to take pphotos of the food.
Note 2: Student are reminded to finish everything from “Food modelling competition” without wasting any of the food.

Expected Outcome:

Students may not be interested in Part Two. Instructor will then have to prepare some more interesting cutting tools, e.g. toothpicks, dental floss or sponge, etc.) This is to stimulate students’ sense and creativity of making use of this tools.

Actual Outcome:

Part Two “Deconstruct the banana”
T.W.G.Hs Li Ka Shing College_20151211_021

Part Three “Food modelling competition”

Simple lighting mode can also be put in practise at school. It is suggested to use those movable lamp as it can help generating different light source from different directions. (e.g. backlights, side lights and front lights) Students may switch off the lights of the classroom if it is necessary. This could make the lamp as the only light source and fully portray the effects of having light on the target products. Make use of tracing paper to adjust the lights on the food and to compensate the lights on the side opposite to the light so as the balance the contrast and avoid unnecessary shadows. Moreover, instructor could provide different colours of paper for background so as to match with the atmosphere students attempt.
T.W.G.Hs Li Ka Shing College_20151211_076



Part One “The five senses about food”
T.W.G.Hs Li Ka Shing College_20151211_001
T.W.G.Hs Li Ka Shing College_20151211_002
T.W.G.Hs Li Ka Shing College_20151211_003

Part Two “Deconstruct the banana” Student work
li ka shing process
T.W.G.Hs Li Ka Shing College_20151211_007


Part Three “Food Modelling Competition” Student Work

Fu Ka Cheung
Fu_Ka_Cheung_20151221_011 Fu_Ka_Cheung_20151221_013

Lo Sze Yan
T.W.G.Hs Li Ka Shing College_20151211_075

Student Feedback:

Part One, students were not used to describing common food with senses only.

Reference Materials:

Artist Sakir Gökçebag (applicable in Part Two)

Photography: Rene Mesman, food stylist: Claartje Lindhout, graphic design: Bas Koopmans (applicable in Part Two)