Beautiful Distilled Moments:
Q&A with Kitchen Ghosts

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Every step in a recipe causes its results to change form. So many more people watch cooking shows rather than cook for themselves, and aside from cultural changes I wonder if the shows have maintained as a result of what’s missing: a longing to watch the process. A kind of nostalgia for when we were finally able to see over the kitchen counter and learn how someone created something we first craved.

Kitchen Ghosts manages to amplify that pleasure by turning those fleeting moments into looping cinemagraphs. They’re reminders of first loving to add cream to tea; how it looks like liquid smoke. Or, how beautiful hands look in motion, while working, like when squeezing an orange for juice. Daria Khoroshavina, the photographer behind Kitchen Ghosts, spoke with us about the magic behind this project and how it has taken on a life of its own.

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You’ve said that you normally shoot portraiture but were looking to experiment. Can you tell us a little more about your background and how you got started with this idea?

Well, I love experimenting a lot, I still like to think that I’m at the beginning of my career and not stick to any particular style, so I find lots of ways to express my creativity. Kitchen Ghosts appeared when I had a two month time in between jobs and needed to entertain myself at my home studio.

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It’s really interesting that there was no real planning behind the name Kitchen Ghosts. That it just sort of came to you as a temporary placeholder when you were first creating the website. It’s almost like the project named itself. How do you think that same instinct or process plays into the rest of this project?

Oh sometimes I think this project has a life of its own. It has named itself, it took its niche and keeps promoting itself everywhere. I barely even do anything, just reply to emails and keep shooting!

All of these cinemagraphs feel very natural, like these beautiful distilled moments. How do you make sure to recreate that feeling outside of the moments they’re shot?

I think it’s all about the environment, I always try to make the set look home-like and relatable. Also, the moving parts aren’t something I invented, those things like running water or sparkling dust are universally attractive. I just take them and put in my images, or create a set around them and film.8icecreamcoffee

What role does magic play in Kitchen Ghosts? You’ve talked about how your childhood love of magic has contributed to your need to create, but more specifically, how does that help you create “what doesn’t exist”?

Ah, I make cinemagraphs with magic! Sometimes I really believe it. I think that any creative process is an inner dialogue between you and your imagination. You take it from there and bring it into the world, isn’t it fascinating? Hope this makes sense 🙂

Your recent series Russian Dad’s Beer and Honeysuckle Cheesecake feel very tied to place. How do location, food, and heritage play into Kitchen Ghosts?

When we made our first recipes we didn’t tie them with some particular cuisine, they were simple universal meals that anybody can relate to. However, after a few months, we gained a bit of followers and were quite surprised that almost none of them were Russian, so that is how those recent series appeared. We wanted to have fun and show them something from our culture and maybe have a bit of attention from our local friends. I think in the future we’ll be making more universal recipes.

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I’m interested to know more of the practical details behind your process. How do you choose the food and create the setting?

If it’s personal work, I love to decorate everything in my favorite style—rustic, vintage, a bit Scandinavian. I like to use items with history, and everything handmade. And I get inspired by recipes a lot, I’m not a huge fan of cooking myself but I love YouTube cooking channels and old cookbooks. Every time I see a recipe I imagine how it would work in motion and then try to recreate it in our style.

I love when work bleeds into life in random ways. Since Kitchen Ghosts, has your perception changed; the way you eat or look at food?

Definitely! I started cooking a lot more myself, trying new recipes. For example, before this project I never imagined myself spending several hours in the kitchen making a cake on a weekday. But if we’re doing something for a client and we have to stick to a particular style then it feels more like work, and I can return from an 8 hour shoot in the studio and eat a frozen pizza. But overall, my own foods have become prettier and often get filmed, like that shot with a steaming cup, a randomly caught moment.

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What is your end goal with Kitchen Ghosts? What would you like to accomplish?

I would love to work more with chefs and food bloggers, collaborate with people who are as passionate about cooking as I am about filming.

What can fans of Kitchen Ghosts look forward to seeing in the near future?

A bit of commercial work and more recipes from our home, we are now accepting suggestions at our tumblr:  http://butteryplanet.tumblr.com/

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