Kimberly Davis Recreates Memorable Food Scenes from Holiday-Themed Pop Culture

Nov 26, 2019
Photographer Spotlight

I had never seen anyone recreate the food from holiday movies before. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time.

Accordion fold

Kimberly Davis has spent the last few months taking her clever, original idea and turning it into a holiday promo. Alongside food stylist Darcy Folsom and graphic designer Jennifer Stewart, Kimberly created imagery of some of the most memorable food scenes from holiday classics. Though this personal project is centered mostly around movies, the inspiration for this concept came from a show.   

It started with the Thanksgiving trifle from 'Friends.' I thought that would be a fun idea to recreate but it was actually the most difficult food to make. Stacking all those layers and trying to keep things from sliding down was challenging.

Trifle instead of truffle how funny

I made a list of my personal favorite [classics] and edited it down. We have food represented from Friends, The Nutcracker, Love, Actually, Home Alone, You’ve Got Mail, Christmas Vacation, and Elf.

From pre to post, this project was incredibly time-consuming. Kimberly had worked with Darcy before, but this was her first time collaborating with Jennifer. Upon creating a basic outline of the work, the Austinite enlisted the graphic designer to help figure out the look of the printed promo. 

There was a ton of pre-production for this. From coming up with a list of favorites, researching the actual food scenes again, and figuring out what each scene would look like, there was lots of propping and meetings. This is definitely the most expensive personal project I’ve done.

Books

Prior to shooting I met with Jennifer, a designer from Laughing Lark Studios, to figure out what the printed pieces were going to be. I wanted to do an accordion fold printed piece, so that's what we landed on. 

Along with the delicious imagery comes a stop motion video inspired by 'The Nutcracker.' With Jennifer helping put together the booklet, Darcy spent her time recreating the dishes and 'setting the scenes', if you will.

Set the scene

The Nutcracker isn’t a movie but it just had to be in there. It’s not Christmas without it!

Nutcracker

I knew I wanted to include sweets and candies for the ‘Land of Sweets’ for the Nutcracker. Darcy really brought her vision to life and built that whole set.

It was Darcy’s idea to get the little mouse king. It’s stop-motion animation, so we shot a still, moved it a little, shot another photo, etc. I was kicking myself for shooting with natural light on that one because if I had used strobes it would have been a little bit easier to put together but I’m still happy with how it turned out.

This being Kimberly’s thing, it’s okay for her to take some liberties with the project and stretch out the concept to include her favorite holiday content. Take, for example, the film “Love, Actually.” It’s the photographer’s favorite holiday movie but doesn’t have a particularly memorable food scene, so Kimberly went in a slightly different direction.

I can’t have a favorites list without including ['Love, Actually'], so we recreated my favorite scene: the gift-wrapping scene with Rowan Atkinson where he’s buying a gold necklace for his secretary.

Love Actually

We made the necklace out of chocolate and dusted it with edible gold powder. We included all the elements in that elaborate gift-wrapping scene in the photo. I suppose you could argue it’s a stretch, but I stand by it.

The rest of the work featured actual food scenes from some of the biggest holiday titles of the past few decades. "Home Alone" gave Kimberly a couple of options to work with, and there was no way she was going to leave any stone unturned for this project.  

I always remembered the big food scene where he sits down at the dining room table on Christmas Eve with his macaroni and cheese right before he takes on the bad guys.

Home Alone

Other people said they thought of cheese pizza as the representative, so we included both.

Some of the brightest imagery from the project revolves around the “You’ve Got Mail” recreation. One hitch: since the scene has caviar, Kimberly had to purchase more of it than she’ll ever need in her entire life. 

I really love how the tomato aspic and caviar garnish turned out for ‘You’ve Got Mail.’ If you haven’t seen that movie in a while you should watch it, it’s so adorable!

Caviar garnish

The aspic from the actual movie wasn’t very pretty so we elevated it. It turned out so beautiful. I bought $80 worth of caviar for that photo and it’s all still in my fridge because nobody likes caviar. I even tried to give it away on NextDoor, and there were no takers.

Caviar caveat aside, most of the food didn't go to waste. This includes the largest food prop, a turkey that was the star of the “Christmas Vacation” reimagining.  

The turkey scene from 'Christmas Vacation' where Clark Griswold cuts into it and it cracks open and smokes is such a good food scene. It was fun smoking that turkey! We wanted the food to be beautiful because, after all, we are professionals showing off what we can do for actual clients so we chose to show the beautiful perfect (but smoking) turkey.

Smoking turkey

I actually bought the turkey from Honeybaked Hams and we were able to use it so it could be eaten later. I made some great turkey soup out of that bird.

A holiday project of this ilk wouldn’t be complete without the most recent movie of the bunch: "Elf." Will Ferrell’s character has a sweet tooth that would put a hummingbird to shame. Due to Buddy the Elf’s, shall we say, unique meal preparation, Kimberly and her crew got a number of shots to highlight the different aspects of the dish.

Elf

That was actually the fastest image we created in the whole project. I like the minimal aesthetic to it, and I think it’s obvious what it’s from.

Four main food groups

The shot [above] was really just a detail, but I ended up liking it the best. I had bought a giant serving fork to use as a prop with that in mind. We had several types of Pop-Tarts and that one looked the best.

The project wasn’t complete until the challenging post-production came to a close. Pinpointing the right printer and making sure the final product would feel just right took some time. It also served as a learning experience for Kimberly.

The post-production was much harder than I thought. Trying to find the right printer took many tests but I am very happy with Modern Postcard and will work with them first next time.

In the end, Kimberly produced a fun, one-of-a-kind project that has gotten a lot of love since it launched. When I asked Kimberly about what’s next for this work, she discussed the process of setting up meetings with potential clients and also put in a request for moviemakers to create more holiday films.

So far people are loving it, which makes me so happy! I feel like so many others know these lines as well and hopefully they’ll watch these films that they haven’t seen in a while. I’d love for creatives to see my personality through this and appreciate the effort, humor, and craft. I really love food photography and I’m always happy to work with new clients.

Other accordion fold

I have a few more ideas that could be photographed but, for now, let’s leave that to Hollywood to make more Christmas movies! Elf was released in 2003 and is the youngest holiday favorite on the list. It’s time for some new favorites to be created.

Credits:

Food Stylist: Darcy Folsom 
Graphic Designer: Jennifer Stewart  

Check out more of Kimberly's work at kimberlydavisphotography.com.

Check out our other great photographers on our Find Photographers page!