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Milly Eliyahu

Published:

I grew up in a family that loved to cook, eat, and mostly to host. Every family gathering was like a big, carefully planned event my mother had started early in the morning.

I would get up in the smell of fried onion with garlic and a scented orange cake that just came out of the oven. I already know that a good meal would be at noon.

I remember the guests coming from all over the country to enjoy food prepared by my mother and my father’s first wife. My father remarried but always kept in touch with his first wife, an amazing woman who actually raised me and became my second mother. We were a large, double family that opened a packed table full of delicacies. We have expressed love through food.

The kitchen was the busiest place in the house, two mothers, each working on her own delicacies. I remember looking at my mother, hypnotized as she kneaded the yeast dough that would soon be smeared with an excessive layer of chocolate and baked in the oven and the smell would make the neighbors crazy. In that exact kitchen, in those days, I fell in love with cooking and baking. I was a girl with a very developed imagination, I could barely concentrate on studying.

Once, at a parent-teacher meeting, my teacher told my mother that instead of studying, I was painting or daydreaming. And yes, I dreamed a lot, I dreamed of fairies, angels, magicians and wizards and dragons. I loved to draw and illustrate anything I imagined. In high school, I chose to study art history because the other professions like math and physics were very difficult for me. I admired artists such as Diego Velázquez, Johannes Vermeer, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt.

It was the only profession I loved.

After high school, I decided to study graphic design. I worked for a year at a printing-house. I felt that I was moving away from dirty charcoal pencils, pastel chalk and my old Sketchbook and replacing it in a digital world. But I had to work to make a living.

After a year, I started an independent graphic design and branding business and my main job was with cafes and restaurants. I made sure the food was around me even indirectly.

For 12 years I worked in front of the computer and designed nonstop. I had to reinvent myself every time, I felt worn out. At that time, my dear father died of lung cancer. It was one of the hard times of my life, I felt empty and sad. I was not inspired and could not continue to design. I was looking for a way to keep my father’s memories, because basically what was left of him were just the memories.

One evening while visiting my mother, we had dinner, the atmosphere was depressing and sad. It was hard for me to see my mother like that and the house that was once a very happy home. I remembered how food was the one that connected us, food made us happy and there were lots of dishes my father loved, and I came up with an idea, to write all the recipes my father loved to eat. The idea was to print a few copies for the family.

The next day I bought a professional camera without understanding anything in photography. At first, I started taking pictures of the food my mom made, or just cookies and cakes that were at home. I learned on my own how to get good lighting and found that my best photos were taken in natural lighting.

After 6 years, I wrote the family food recipes and photographed them. I felt deep in my stomach that I could at least try to submit this book for publishing. I submitted it to several literary agents but without success. The amount of “no” I received was so big that I couldn’t contain the disappointment. The design was exceptional and original, the recipes were perfect and the pictures were mouth-watering. I felt that this project, the “project of my life” came out of the stomach, from my soul. It just broke my heart.

I continued to cook, bake, and shoot pictures. An inner voice told me not to stop and continue to create. Even when most of my money went to ingredients, props, fabrics, wallpapers. I felt it was stronger than me.

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”

Carl Sagan

I took lots of pictures that looked like the other pictures most food bloggers take, it looked the same. The food was stimulating and beautiful but not special. My fingerprint was not there. I baked again and bought more groceries and more fruit and more fabrics and couldn’t create one picture that would characterize me. I was very frustrated and almost impoverished.

One afternoon, while cleaning the warehouse, I came across some old books from my high school years. Two art books, Baroque and Renaissance. I adored these books, I would flip through them before bed.

While browsing, I found notes that were stuck on certain pages and tried to remember why I put them there. I understood what was common to all the pages with the notes—still life paintings appeared. Then I remembered how much I loved fruits and vegetables; instantly I was flooded with nostalgia and all kinds of stories about my father.

My father had a farmer’s soul even though he owned a neighborhood grocery store and was not the one who grew the fruits and vegetables, but always appreciated the freshness. My dad couldn’t make food because he was an old generation dad, a simple man who loved to eat simple food and listen to old songs on his old transistor. Sometimes he would take me to the farm, where he would import the fresh goods into his grocery store. I would go into the white van and sit among the crates of tomatoes and cucumbers. Maybe it was the first time I learned to appreciate fresh vegetables and fruit.

On page 30 a picture of a still life of a painter named Caravaggio appeared, it was the most beautiful picture I had ever seen. There appeared a basket with grapes, apples, figs, and quince. I decided to try to revive the picturesque scene into a photographed scene.

I opened the fridge and it was full of grapes, apples, and peaches. I put everything in the basket, set up a stand with two dark background boards, chose a beautiful tapestry fabric from the selection I had and started taking pictures. I liked the result but something was missing. There had to be a surgical intervention for graphic software in order for the image to look like an old drawing. So I uploaded the images in the graphic software and started playing with the effects. Darken and clarify, blurring certain parts. And finally, I saved the changes. The picture came out like the Baroque paintings. Dark, dramatic, exactly how I wanted it to come out. Ever since then, every photo I take is going through the same process.

In the early years, most of the pictures were taken in my living room. Because I did not have a “fancy” studio, I had to be creative and build a “studio”. I searched for the best spotlight in the house, and found it in the living room, and always in the same corner near the window. I took beautiful pictures. The images underwent the same image design process to look periodic and picturesque. Later, I started shooting outdoors and found that back- grounds like magical gardens, orchards, and forests add drama and depth to the images and that became my best studio to work with.

My main inspiration comes from the farmers market, fragrant spice shops, and fabric stores. I like to use linen fabrics and tapestries. I buy my props at the flea market. I choose props that when you look at them you can see the story beyond. That’s why I always choose used cookware.

I illustrate on my sketchbook how the scene will look like, where I will place the fruit and where the cake will stand. In this way, it is easier for me to see the picture in its entirety, even before I shoot the picture. I create the backgrounds myself. I buy or find wood plates and paint them in dark colors.

When I start preparing a photography scene, I have to get into the vibe and prepare the area. I turn on YouTube and play music such as new age. The main thing is that the head will not employ the words but only the melody.

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you
see them.”

ELLIOTT ERWITT

I grew up in a family that loved to cook, eat, and mostly to host. Every family gathering was like a big, carefully planned event my mother had started early in the morning.

I would get up in the smell of fried onion with garlic and a scented orange cake that just came out of the oven. I already know that a good meal would be at noon.

I remember the guests coming from all over the country to enjoy food prepared by my mother and my father’s first wife. My father remarried but always kept in touch with his first wife, an amazing woman who actually raised me and became my second mother. We were a large, double family that opened a packed table full of delicacies. We have expressed love through food.

The kitchen was the busiest place in the house, two mothers, each working on her own delicacies. I remember looking at my mother, hypnotized as she kneaded the yeast dough that would soon be smeared with an excessive layer of chocolate and baked in the oven and the smell would make the neighbors crazy. In that exact kitchen, in those days, I fell in love with cooking and baking. I was a girl with a very developed imagination, I could barely concentrate on studying.

Once, at a parent-teacher meeting, my teacher told my mother that instead of studying, I was painting or daydreaming. And yes, I dreamed a lot, I dreamed of fairies, angels, magicians and wizards and dragons. I loved to draw and illustrate anything I imagined. In high school, I chose to study art history because the other professions like math and physics were very difficult for me. I admired artists such as Diego Velázquez, Johannes Vermeer, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt.

It was the only profession I loved.

After high school, I decided to study graphic design. I worked for a year at a printing-house. I felt that I was moving away from dirty charcoal pencils, pastel chalk and my old Sketchbook and replacing it in a digital world. But I had to work to make a living.

After a year, I started an independent graphic design and branding business and my main job was with cafes and restaurants. I made sure the food was around me even indirectly.

For 12 years I worked in front of the computer and designed nonstop. I had to reinvent myself every time, I felt worn out. At that time, my dear father died of lung cancer. It was one of the hard times of my life, I felt empty and sad. I was not inspired and could not continue to design. I was looking for a way to keep my father’s memories, because basically what was left of him were just the memories.

One evening while visiting my mother, we had dinner, the atmosphere was depressing and sad. It was hard for me to see my mother like that and the house that was once a very happy home. I remembered how food was the one that connected us, food made us happy and there were lots of dishes my father loved, and I came up with an idea, to write all the recipes my father loved to eat. The idea was to print a few copies for the family.

The next day I bought a professional camera without understanding anything in photography. At first, I started taking pictures of the food my mom made, or just cookies and cakes that were at home. I learned on my own how to get good lighting and found that my best photos were taken in natural lighting.

After 6 years, I wrote the family food recipes and photographed them. I felt deep in my stomach that I could at least try to submit this book for publishing. I submitted it to several literary agents but without success. The amount of “no” I received was so big that I couldn’t contain the disappointment. The design was exceptional and original, the recipes were perfect and the pictures were mouth-watering. I felt that this project, the “project of my life” came out of the stomach, from my soul. It just broke my heart.

I continued to cook, bake, and shoot pictures. An inner voice told me not to stop and continue to create. Even when most of my money went to ingredients, props, fabrics, wallpapers. I felt it was stronger than me.

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”

Carl Sagan

I took lots of pictures that looked like the other pictures most food bloggers take, it looked the same. The food was stimulating and beautiful but not special. My fingerprint was not there. I baked again and bought more groceries and more fruit and more fabrics and couldn’t create one picture that would characterize me. I was very frustrated and almost impoverished.

One afternoon, while cleaning the warehouse, I came across some old books from my high school years. Two art books, Baroque and Renaissance. I adored these books, I would flip through them before bed.

While browsing, I found notes that were stuck on certain pages and tried to remember why I put them there. I understood what was common to all the pages with the notes—still life paintings appeared. Then I remembered how much I loved fruits and vegetables; instantly I was flooded with nostalgia and all kinds of stories about my father.

My father had a farmer’s soul even though he owned a neighborhood grocery store and was not the one who grew the fruits and vegetables, but always appreciated the freshness. My dad couldn’t make food because he was an old generation dad, a simple man who loved to eat simple food and listen to old songs on his old transistor. Sometimes he would take me to the farm, where he would import the fresh goods into his grocery store. I would go into the white van and sit among the crates of tomatoes and cucumbers. Maybe it was the first time I learned to appreciate fresh vegetables and fruit.

On page 30 a picture of a still life of a painter named Caravaggio appeared, it was the most beautiful picture I had ever seen. There appeared a basket with grapes, apples, figs, and quince. I decided to try to revive the picturesque scene into a photographed scene.

I opened the fridge and it was full of grapes, apples, and peaches. I put everything in the basket, set up a stand with two dark background boards, chose a beautiful tapestry fabric from the selection I had and started taking pictures. I liked the result but something was missing. There had to be a surgical intervention for graphic software in order for the image to look like an old drawing. So I uploaded the images in the graphic software and started playing with the effects. Darken and clarify, blurring certain parts. And finally, I saved the changes. The picture came out like the Baroque paintings. Dark, dramatic, exactly how I wanted it to come out. Ever since then, every photo I take is going through the same process.

In the early years, most of the pictures were taken in my living room. Because I did not have a “fancy” studio, I had to be creative and build a “studio”. I searched for the best spotlight in the house, and found it in the living room, and always in the same corner near the window. I took beautiful pictures. The images underwent the same image design process to look periodic and picturesque. Later, I started shooting outdoors and found that back- grounds like magical gardens, orchards, and forests add drama and depth to the images and that became my best studio to work with.

My main inspiration comes from the farmers market, fragrant spice shops, and fabric stores. I like to use linen fabrics and tapestries. I buy my props at the flea market. I choose props that when you look at them you can see the story beyond. That’s why I always choose used cookware.

I illustrate on my sketchbook how the scene will look like, where I will place the fruit and where the cake will stand. In this way, it is easier for me to see the picture in its entirety, even before I shoot the picture. I create the backgrounds myself. I buy or find wood plates and paint them in dark colors.

When I start preparing a photography scene, I have to get into the vibe and prepare the area. I turn on YouTube and play music such as new age. The main thing is that the head will not employ the words but only the melody.

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you
see them.”

ELLIOTT ERWITT