黃建勳特寫

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1988 / 7月

文‧盧惠芬 圖‧黃建勳


在日本關西大學念的是經濟,留學美國專攻社會,獲伊利諾大學碩士學位;如此背景,黃建勳結果竟成為日本食品專業攝影的開創者。「我只是想在一個新的領域中,做一個頂尖者」,他說。

他的確是。廿五年來,他得過無數大小獎目,去年更被全世界規模最大的專業攝影組織——擁有一百年歷史、一萬五千名會員的美國專業攝影協會選為「大師」。他是亞洲第一個獲得這項榮譽的人。


黃建勳經常皺著眉,眉心皺出兩道深溝。問他為什麼,他哈哈一笑,眉頭乍解說:「嚴肅一點看起來才像可以信任呀!」

答案其實在攝影棚堙C

在鍋子還熱的時候按下快門

棚堳雃w靜,只聽得到燈光移動和管道具的助手在裝草莓奶昔的杯子上噴水的聲音。

奶昔是專業烹調人員在棚內附設的廚房作的。黃建勳堅持:食物愈新鮮拍出來的效果愈好,所以除了巧克力糖和餅乾以外,所有拍攝的食品都必須當場調製;而且在作好之前,拍攝的準備工作得全部完成。「你必須在鍋子還熱的時候就按下快門」,他常說。

對拍草莓奶昔來說,則是要在它融化之前;而在左右後三道強光下,這段時間不到一分鐘。所以烹調人員一杯接著一杯地作,她用餐巾紙包著杯子,避免碰觸時留下指紋;作好後還用吸管輕輕挑動,直到奶昔中不見任何氣泡,才送進棚奡奐s。

黃建勳右手持快門線、左手拿放大鏡,站在鏡頭前看著一切進行——首席助理記錄剛拍過的底片;燈光助理調整光線;道具助理正將一杯新的奶昔放在固定位置,然後噴上細細的水珠,讓它顯得更清涼。

試試讓顏色稍微紅一點!他的指揮打破沉默,燈光助理動手在燈上貼粉紅色的磨砂紙。黃建勳按下快門;拍了一下午,他始終表情嚴肅,眉頭幾乎沒有鬆過。

「我經常太緊張」,他承認。緊張,來自他對品質的要求,對每一步驟精確控制的要求。

天寒地凍拍冰淇淋

蝦子要看得出是剛燙過的,紅色的殼還帶點透明;竹筍則是才從土堳鶧_來的感覺,葉上的細毛清晰可見;關東煮堥C個魚丸,每塊油豆腐,看來都是飽含水份,而且熱氣氤氳……。從材料就是上品,沖印也利用新科技。

去年他開攝影展,展出的照片都不是一般的沖洗放大,而是按印刷原理分色、拼版,然後印出來。這樣雖然使一張16x22吋的照片沖印成本達一千美元,但顏色豐滿、細節清楚,效果最接近底片。

拍攝過程更是講究。以拍蛤蜊來說,他先觀察蛤蜊在鹽水中吐沙的情形;正式開拍時,為了不驚擾蛤蜊,攝影棚的燈全部熄滅,只點了一根小蠟燭。他就著微弱的燭光,緊盯蛤蜊的動靜,聽它們發出輕微的「滋滋滋」聲響,等了兩個鐘頭,終於有隻蛤蜊從硬殼中伸出一支管子吐出水來,就在這一剎那,黃建勳按下快門。

冰淇淋也是不容易處理的食物,在燈光下,往往還沒拍就融化。為了表現剛從冰筒挖起來的感覺,有些商業攝影用染色的乳酪頂替冰淇淋,效果也幾可亂真。黃建勳則堅持所拍食物必須都是「真品」。他把冰淇淋一球球挖好在冷凍櫃冰兩小時,以減緩它融化的速度;同時把攝影棚冷氣開到最強,還放了乾冰,讓室溫維持在將近零度,工作人員凍得發抖,「但即使是這樣,冰淇淋那種鬆鬆的、冰涼的樣子也只能維持五秒鐘」,他說。

沒有太多商業機密?

「只要研究食物的特性,瞭解它,就知道怎麼處理」,黃建勳說。他在攝影棚附近有間私人辦公室兼休息室,夜闌人靜時他經常在此對著食物、苦思如何拍攝。這是東京有樂町夜間燈火通明的辦公大樓中,最晚熄燈的窗口之一。

「只要肯下功夫研究、嘗試,有耐心,願意長時間工作」,他說:「拍攝上的技巧,沒有太多秘密。」

他的一個小秘密是:拍照前不吃太多東西,讓鼻子保持敏銳,嘴巴想張開,心裡對食物有感覺。「只有當你覺得好吃,拍出來的照片才能打動別人的食慾」,他說。

然而,對黃建勳而言,他終生投注的事業,還不只是讓人「享受用眼睛吃東西的樂趣」,或是幫助產品製造商客戶吸引消費者打開荷包,他從事的是一種掌握時代脈動,改變人類生活——飲食生活的工作。

看到未來

「要看到未來」,他強調。當他從紐約回到東京,於一九六三年開了日本第一家食品專業攝影公司時,日本的國民所得只有五百廿二美元(今天的廿七分之一),商業攝影更是剛起步。那時他就預測食品專業攝影有發展潛力。

「日本經濟會循美國的軌跡發展,產品將透過工廠大量製造,當經濟愈發達、人們愈來愈忙碌,簡易、方便烹調的食品,就會大量擺在超級市場中銷售」,黃建勳說:「大量製造的產品必須藉著大眾傳播的力量,才能很快地廣大被消費者知道、接受。能不能讓消費者一看到廣告就動心,或在超級市場堥ㄗ鴠]裝上的畫面就把它取下來,食品攝影扮演關鍵性的角色。」

不出他所料,現在他除了定期為雜誌拍攝食譜外,絕大部分的業務是為大量生產的商品拍攝廣告與包裝,而且其中一半來自新問世的產品。「一九八六年,日本有四千多種新的食品進入市場,只有百分之十能夠留下來」,黃建勳說:「在自由競爭的經濟制度下,產品的生命週期縮短,我在美國就看到這種趨勢。」

糕餅店老闆的兒子

他也看到了當經濟高度成長,人們有了豐富的飲食之後,必然轉而注意健康。於是,十一年前他在日本推出健康食品專輯;趕在日本人使用烹調工具的習慣改變前,一九七六年他出版了微波爐食譜;而最近他除了拍更精緻的食物,還致力介紹各國餐飲,「希望讓日本人的飲食國際化」。

他對社會動態的觀察能力,來自所受的教育。

黃建勳一九二九年出生在日本神戶,他父親從台灣嘉義到那兒開糕餅店,這也是他選擇食物世界做為一生投入對象的原因之一。他說:「我和其他攝影家的不同點,在於我學習了生產者的心理和觀念。」

一九五五年,他赴美留學,原來的志願是當教授,念了社會學後,轉攻大眾傳播,「當時大家都重視文字傳播,影像傳播才剛開始受注意」,黃建勳回憶。他一頭栽進這個新領域,進入紐約攝影研究所就讀,畢業後進紐約著名的食物專門攝影公司Midori Inc.工作三年,然後決定把專業食品攝影帶回日本,成為這方面的先驅。

成功之前別吃太飽

在中國家庭出生、在日本社會成長、在美國受教育,這三種文化各對他產生什麼影響?對工作強烈的理念,一踏入就終生不悔的精神,又是從何而來?黃建勳認為,三種文化在他身上已經混合,無法分出來;而對食品攝影的熱誠、對品質的嚴格要求,不是來自任何一種文化,「只因為攝影是我的專業」,他說。

而得自家庭的影響,黃建勳最記得的是開糕餅鋪的父親告訴他的一句話:「生命是不斷競爭的過程,成功之前不要吃得太飽。」

〔圖片說明〕

P.32

從農場直接運到攝影棚的蘆筍,夠新鮮吧!

P.33

竹筍、泥土,甚至土上的草、筍後的竹子通通是移到攝影棚堜蝒滿C

P.34

熄了燈,就著微弱的燭光,黃建勳等了兩個小時才拍到這張「蛤蜊的深呼吸」。

P.35

自古以來,鳥在天上飛,魚在水中游。黃建勳卻企圖表達「魚從清涼的海水中飛起來」的感覺。

P.36

這張「大村壽司」曾被印在月曆上。

P.36

(左)黃建勳今年一月應邀來台演講時的神情。(張良綱攝)

P.37

(右)黃建勳去年出版的新作封面。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

A Close-Up of Ken Huang

Chrissie Lu /photos courtesy of Ken Huang /tr. by Peter Eberly

He studied economics at Kansei University in Japan and earned a master's degree in sociology from the University of Illinois, but Ken Huang ended up becoming the founder and leading practitioner of food photography in Japan. "I only wanted to be tops in a new field," he says.

Tops indeed. He has won numerous awards over the past 25 years, and last year he was presented with a "master of photography degree" by Professional Photographers of America, the world's largest photographic organization, becoming the first Asian to receive that honor.


Ken Huang often knits his brow. When asked why, he laughs and explains with a grin: "If you don't look a little serious, people won't trust you."

Actually, the answer comes in the studio. That's where he produces his mouth-watering portraits of culinary confections, paying meticulous attention to the least detail and arranging camera, subject, and lighting to the best possible advantage.

"I'm too nervous," he admits. The tension comes from his demand for quality, for precise control of every step. Near the studio is his private office and lounge, where he frequently stays up at night pondering how to handle a new assignment. His office is often the last in the building to have its lights turned off.

"As long as you're willing to put in the time and effort to study and experiment and you have the patience," he believes, "there aren't many secrets to successful photography."

One little secret of his is not to eat too much before shooting. "Unless you think the food's delicious yourself, the photo you take won't stir up an appetite in others."

To Ken Huang the career that he is engaged in means more than just allowing people to "use their eyes to enjoy the pleasures of eating" or helping his clients to attract consumers and turn a profit. It's an occupation that's bound up with the pulse of the age and changes in people's lives.

"You've got to look at the future," he stresses. When he returned to Tokyo from New York and opened Japan's first food photography studio in 1963, Japan's per capita income was just US$522 a year (one 27th of today's) and commercial photography was just getting off the ground, but even then he foresaw that food photography had great development potential.

Japan's economy would develop along the lines of America's, he predicted. As the economy became more developed and people ever more busy, foods that are simple and convenient to cook would be displayed in mass quantity in supermarkets. "A mass-production economy needs the mass media to exist," he says. "Food photography plays a key role in whether consumers are moved by an ad and in whether they pick up a product in the supermarket when they see the wrapper."

Just as he had expected, by far the largest part of his business now, besides the pictures that he takes regularly for recipes in magazines, is photographing advertisements and packaging for firms with large-scale production. And about half of the business is for new products. "In 1986 more than 4,000 new food products were offered by Japanese manufacturers," he says. "And only 10 percent were successful enough to survive in the market-place. I see this trend in the U.S. also, where free and competitive economies and changing societies encourage short life cycles for many food products."

He also foresaw that as the economy expanded and people's diets grew richer, they would pay more attention to their health. Ten years ago he brought out a book in Japan on health foods, and seven years ago he published a cookbook of recipes for microwave ovens. Most recently, besides seeking continually to improve his photography, he has tried to introduce the Japanese to foods from around the world, "in the hopes of internationalizing their food."

His ability to observe the way society is headed comes partly from his education.

Ken Huang was born in 1929 in Kobe, Japan. His father had moved there from Taiwan to open a bakery, which is also one of the reasons why he chose the food world as the object of his life's work. "Where I'm different from other photographers is that I've studied how the producers think."

When Huang went to the U.S. to study in 1955 his original ambition was to become a professor, and he studied sociology before switching to mass communications. "Everybody emphasized the written media at the time," he recalls, "and the image media had only begun to be noticed." Plunging headlong into his new field, he entered the New York Institute of Photography and then after graduation joined Midori Inc., a famous food photo studio in New York, where he worked for three years before deciding to take his experience to Japan and become a forerunner there in the field of professional food photography.

Born into a Chinese family, raised in Japanese society, and educated in the U.S.--what effect does he think the three cultures have each had on him? Which culture is it that has given him such strong concepts about his work, to set out on a new path and stride on without looking back? Huang believes that the three cultures in him are inseparably mixed and that his enthusiasm for his work and his strict demand for quality don't arise from any single culture. "It's just because photography is my profession."

And the family influence that he best remembers is a sentence that his father the baker told him: "Life is a continual contest. Be hungry before you succeed."

[Picture Caption]

(Photo by Vincent Chang)

Asparagus delivered to the studio straight from the farm--fresh enough for you?

The bamboo shoots, the soil, the grass and the bamboo in the back were all transferred into the studio for photographing.

Huang spent two hours to snap this picture of "a clam taking a deep breath."

Huang here tried to express the feeling of a fish flying out of the sea.

This picture of sushi was printed in a calendar.

(Left) Huang was invited to Taiwan this January to give a lecture. (photo by Vincent Chang)

(Right) The cover of Huang's latest book, published last year.

 

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