Jon Feinstein's photographs focus--really focus--on fast food meals.

Even though chains like McDonald's have served billions and billions of meals, it's unlikely most diners have seen their food quite like this.

Feinstein uses a flat bed scanner to catch the slabs of food in high relief.

The project was born out of Feinstein's personal relationship with fast food. When he ended a six-year hiatus on eating meat, he felt a growing curiosity over the mass-produced burgers.

The stark portraits don't cast the fast food meals in a favorable light--but that's not Feinstein's objective.

“You can see that some are disgusting, some are quite colorful and delicious-looking, and both have the ability to induce nausea and hunger in viewers at the same time,” he says.

“I'm interested in this layered reaction.”

The food came from the kitchens at Wendy's, McDonald's, White Castle, and Burger King.

After Feinstein moved to Seattle, he sourced the meals from West Coast chains.

For meals so familiar to so many Americans, some surprising details show up here--like strange patterns of dribbled sauces.

That kind of high fidelity suggests that these photos could, someday, be artifacts of historical eating habits...

...and advances in the lab-grown beef market only make these meals seem more like potential relics of the past.

See more of Feinstein's work here.

Co.Design

Appetizing Or Nauseating? Up-Close Shots Of Your Favorite Fast Food

Images address the billions-served phenom, showing salt, grease, special sauce, and every pore of burger and bun.

Something happened in 2013 that was totally run of the mill, and yet, upon closer inspection, awe-inspiring. McDonald’s served its (estimated) 300 billionth burger. The text "Billions and billions served" is by now just part of the average highway landscape.

But consider the number: 300 billion burgers, when the total population of the U.S. is more in the range of 300 million. People are eating an awful lot of patties. Keep in mind that allegiance we pledge while looking at Jon Feinstein’s portraits of fast food meals.

Depending on your palate, his photos might make you hungry. Or they might make you take your time preparing a very slow salad tonight. But neither extreme is necessarily Feinstein's goal with the series. Like our relationship with food, it’s more complicated than that: "You can see that some are disgusting, some are quite colorful and delicious-looking, and both have the ability to induce nausea and hunger in viewers at the same time," the photographer tells Co.Design. "I'm interested in this layered reaction."

Feinstein, who's based in Seattle, uses a flat bed scanner to catch the slabs of food in high relief so that every breaded flake, blot of Heinz, and wilted pickle shows up. ("Seeing pockets of grease, specks of salt, and pores in a hamburger at that level of detail is fascinating," he says.)

The roster of food came from the usual suspect’s kitchens: Wendy's, McDonald's, White Castle, and Burger King (shot in New York), and more local West Coast chains after Feinstein relocated to Seattle. His portraits come at a peculiar crossroads for the fast food industry. The subjects of his photographs could someday be anatomical studies of patties from the past, if this summer’s lab-harvested cow muscle burgers succeed in taking over the fast food future. But for Feinstein, that’s just fodder for the series: "I'd absolutely love to make a picture of a stem cell hamburger," he says.

See more of Feinstein's work here.

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3 Comments

  • wsuschmitt

    It is interesting that this photographer/artist decides to take "close up" shots of products that consumers see up close anyhow, while they are eating the products.  The commentary isn't for the eaters, it's for the people that are avoiding the products already...

  • Simon Cohen

    Great, just what the world needs: more photos of food. The sheer number of these images on Facebook, Instagram and everywhere else is the truly nauseating part. Our relationship with food might be broken, but obsessively photographing it isn't going to help. It can only serve to remind food-based businesses that we care more about how a food looks than what it does for us at a nutritional level.

  • Amanda McDaniel

    Really excited that my brain has fundamentally changed- years ago these would have looked good.  Constantly cooking at home, reading articles and self-educating have changed the way I look at food.