There’s nothing worse than ants ruining a picnic. That is, other than a mob hit before dessert.
This is the basic premise behind Meals Interrupted, a photo series by husband-and-wife team Davide Luciano (photographer) and Claudia Ficca (food stylist), along with Maeve Sheridan (prop stylist). Each photo is a scene–a highly ornate meal that has been cut short by some level of tragedy. But we only see the aftermath, rain-drenched pink princess plates, a post-fireball carbonized lobster and asparagus, and yes, even a bloody arm resting near a plate of spaghetti. In fact, the entire delightful series was inspired by a dark mob hit.
“We were walking in Brooklyn and Davide was telling me the story of Carmine Galante, a mobster who was assassinated just as he was finishing lunch in an Italian restaurant,” Ficca tells Co.Design. “The scene Davide described left us thinking about the meal that was so horribly interrupted by gunfire and bloodshed. As we kept walking and talking, we started pondering what other incidents would interrupt a meal so abruptly–and from there the idea for this series was born.”
But the gimmick is only one reason these photos are so intriguing. It’s really the detailed execution that keeps your eyes exploring for the littlest of touches. This intricacy is largely due to the fact that these are completely practical shots rather than Photoshop composites. Everything, right down to the swarm of bees devouring a picnic, actually happened.
“We found a bee keeper near Montréal, Miel de Chez Nous, who was interested in working with us,” Luciano explains. “All the food had to be prepared ahead of time and transported to the apiary. We all had our bee suits on and worked calmly and quietly, so as not to disturb the bees. In ‘Charred’ we burned everything in steps. We started by burning all the props, set the table, added the food, and blow torched it. For “Tossed” (the food fight scene), Claudia started the ‘food fight’ very slowly by throwing some french fries around, and before she knew it the table was covered in Jello and ketchup.”
The result is that despite the photography’s staged nature, you can sense an underlying authenticity. Even in “Soaked,” the drenched princess party scene, the team put faith in the weather rather than a hose, setting up the elaborate meal in a friend’s backyard while hoping the weather report panned out. (It did.)
“Everything is real, well except the blood in ‘Al Dente’ (the mobster hit scene),” Luciano adds. And let us be the first to say, we’re thrilled that not everything in the collection was reenacted literally.