darkroom in the kitchen

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In 1977, Deborah Barsel, a bored assistant registrar at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, N.Y., decided to try a fun side project. She would create a cookbook made up of recipes and images from famous photographers of the day. She sent letters to various artists and put an ad in the museum’s magazine asking for submissions. In return, she received 120 photos, recipes and even a postcard from urban photographer John Gossage saying simply: “I eat out.”

Then, like the projects of so many who leave their jobs for graduate school, the submissions were filed in a box titled “Photographer’s Cookbook” and stored away for 35 years. The museum’s current curator Lisa Hostetler found the box and brought it to print.

The Photographer’s Cookbook is a testament to the lost art of recipe writing. Today, thousands of recipes are just a quick Google search away, but there’s often very little personality to accompany the bare lists of ingredients and instructions. Then there are the recipes in this book — many of which are not the photographers’ dream recipes or even the most impressive items in their culinary arsenals.

From Darkroom To Kitchen: A Time Capsule Of Recipes From Midcentury Photographers

Photos: Neal Slavin, Stephen Shore/Courtesy of Stephen Shore and 303 Gallery, New York, Imogen Cunningham/Imogen Cunningham Trust, Ralph Steiner/Estate of Ralph Steiner, Courtesy of George Eastman Museum