Organic is a feast to the senses. Much more than just a photography book about farmers and chefs of New York’s Hudson Valley, it is a message about integrity. The individuals – and they are individuals! – encountered in this collection are less concerned about USDA organic certifications and government issued labels and more into creating healthy food, grown and prepared in traditional ways – food that is wholesome, sustainable and chemical-free.
Francesco Mastalia made the critical choice to photograph 136 organic farmers and chefs (103 appear in the book) with a reproduction of a large antique plate camera and original lens Dallmeyer 3B from the 1870s. No camera tilts or swings here. The camera is back to basics. It is modeled on a camera manufactured by E. & H.T. Anthony, the company that supplied Mathew Brady and his team of Civil War photographers with their cameras and chemicals.
In order to turn a piece of glass into a photographic negative or a positive (an ‘ambrotype’), it is necessary for the itinerant photographer (i.e. Mastalia) to travel with a lot of ‘stuff’: chemicals, trays, a specially designed box to transport the fragile glass, a ‘darkroom’ of his own design to sensitize and develop the photographs and, of course, a camera and tripod. The skill it takes to make a photograph is enormous, the dedication to craft extremely rare in the age of digital cameras. Every plate Mastalia makes is different, just like every meal prepared by a master chef.
Read the complete article and see the photo gallery: http://sublimemagazine.com/book-reviews/organic-new-york
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