“There are such a lot of things that we just don't see or don't notice within food, like hundreds of water beads on a slice of cucumber, the hair of a kiwi that looks like mowed grass, the block of ginger that looks like a rocky mountain to climb up...”
How did you come to start creating these scenes and images?
At first our aim was to create unique food images. In 2002, a big industrial food ingredients company asked us to create a series of food pictures using their products. Since they were very open about the style of images we looked for the new ideas, and the idea of using these small people to portray their stories came quite naturally.
Why these small people and why these macro photography?
The answers lie in our childhood: we noticed that each of us had been fascinated by thumbnail images since we were young. Pierre kept the memory of small Chinese statues in a flower pot in his grandmother's house. He was became intrigued by recreating a composition of colourful pebbles, a small bridge, with plant and flowers. It was a mind-blowing landscape that impressed him.
A thirteen hour flight away in Japan, Akiko would draw the adventures of small characters in incredibly detailed comic strips. She was quite a greedy little youngster and indulged in bread of all kinds. She would photograph them and create photo albums. Upon returning to Japan many years later, she showed me (Pierre) a small box with all sorts of miniature pastries that she had made when she was fourteen.
As individuals, how do you work together to create the scenes and images?
As two photographers working in very close proximity, in addition to being husband and wife, work life can quickly turn to a nightmare!!! At the start we used to fight a lot and our egos clashed. But with time, we started to learn to respect each other’s rhythm, their way of thinking and reacting, their qualities as well as their weak points.
What inspires your work?
In addition to our aforementioned childhood, the beauty of the details and the textures of our everyday food give us daily inspiration. There are such a lot of things that we just don't see or don't notice within food, like a hundreds of water beads on a slice of cucumber, the hair of a kiwi that looks like mowed grass, the block of ginger that looks like a rocky mountain to climb up...
It invites us to look at things much more carefully, with respect and with attention! The beauty is everywhere around us!
What is the creative process behind your work?
It all starts with an idea. It can come at any time, while we walk through markets, while we cook, eat, clean, drive, or just walk! Then we try to create a quick drawing on a note so that we don’t forget the idea. Then the time comes to create the image.
On a shoot Pierre often works on the lighting and Akiko dedicates her time to styling. But we always prepare every single detail on the scene together, and when it's time to shoot we stand behind camera and check images, discuss and elaborate as a team. It's quite laborious but the results are often much more amazing when our four eyes are at work!
Some of the scenes are very complicated and we imagine quite fiddly – how do you create
such miniature precision?
With a lot of concentration, time and patience!
If you could illustrate a fine-dining, very minimal dish, what would you do?
Just a grain of rice with one salmon roe? Both of them represent something very precious: life -especially for Akiko, as rice in Japan has a big value in life.
What exciting projects do you have coming up in 2014?
We’re planning an exhibition of mini people and dairy products in the coming International Agricultural Salon in Paris, which will take place between 22 February and 2 March. It will be quite similar to the one we put on for the MILK gallery last March.
How do you foresee Minimiam progressing over the next 5 years?
We hope it will progress like our own children progress!! We’ll have more exhibitions, which will give us new dimensions to our photography.
Finally, what is your favourite piece that you have created?
It’s very difficult to choose one but we the very first image that we created as Minimiam, “Tarte Imposée”, is held dear to our hearts. We shot it with natural light and we love the tenderness of the couple skating on the surface of tart mould.
Find out more about Minimiam here.