Mike Langford takes a glass and a half of full cream photography and asks, what do we have against the perfect photograph?
"Back in the late 19th Century, ‘chocolate box art’ referred literally to decorations on chocolate boxes. The term was first introduced by Richard Cadbury, son of the founder of Cadbury confectionery, when using his own paintings of children, flowers and holiday scenes on chocolate boxes. They were used to evoke a sense of pleasure, positivity, harmony and security in a caring, loving family environment. Their design was intended to make people want to buy the products as gifts for special occasions like anniversaries, weddings and birthdays.
"The use of photographs soon replaced paintings as the preferred medium, offering pastoral scenes, sunsets and images of travel destinations that were in vogue at the time. These in turn extended to feature on postcards, calendars and cheap wall art.
"The use and understanding of the term ‘chocolate box’, has been turned on its head. Today, it is used to describe a work of art as being clichéd, hackneyed, over-sweetened or saccharin, over-sentimental, picturesque and obvious. It is now used very much as a derogatory ‘art’ term.
"Having grown up in a period when the term still had a positive and enticing meaning (and a time when eating chocolates was the best thing ever), the art of chocolate box decoration in a photographic sense, meant displaying examples of visual positivity with a sense of beauty and
perfection. With this understanding still in my mind, I started to explore some of my own images that just might be coined as being ‘chocolate boxes’, in the hope of gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of what they really mean."
Can you take great chocolate box shots? Are the shots you take of famous locations or scenes as good as the ones you are inspired by? Join Mike in the current issue of Better Photography and find out. You can subscribe at www.betterphotographyeducation.com.