Photo Series Documents American Life by Capturing Families Eating Together


For the past decade, photographer Douglas Adesko has been creating a photo series that is half photography, half anthropological study. His series Family Meal captures families of all types, cultures and sizes sitting together and enjoying a meal.

According to photographer Timothy Archibald, who became the subject of one of the project’s photos, Adesko takes the photos using an 8×10 view camera. The resulting images are powerful in the subtlety with which they capture each family member’s relationship to one-another.

Discussing the photo series, Adesko explains:

There are only a handful of activities that are truly fundamental to our existence, and eating is one of them. Family Meal is a visual exploration of this primal act in the context of contemporary American family life.

Each photo shows a family engaging in their version of what is essentially a culturally universal ritual: sharing a meal together. Be a mother and her four children, two good friends, or a family that spans several generations, each photo reveals a family dynamic that may never be as obvious as it is at the dinner table:












In all, Adesko has captured more than 75 portraits of families and friends sitting down to eat. To see more of Adesko’s work, including more photos from the Family Meal series, head over to his website by clicking here.

(via Feature Shoot)

Image credits: Photographs by Douglas Adesko and used with permission.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    Great idea, great photos.

  • Aus_Guy

    Fantastic concept and execution. But do families still eat together? Can’t help feel that families don’t do this sort of thing anymore, which is sad.

  • Adam Cross

    great idea, but there are too many different post-processing techniques used in different photos and it kinda throws you off, some look candid, some look really posed – I don’t know, it’s just me – I like uniform series ^_^ just my opinion :D

  • Mansgame

    Seems very staged.

  • Joey Duncan

    I think it partly is, I mean the photographer didn’t JUST show up and say “hey let me take some pics, I swear I’m not creepy look at my smile :-) ” So ya there is some setup, I’m sure the people were given a number of instructions, in non of the photos is anybody really doing anything but eating, including expressions.

  • Joey Duncan

    Although, I really like the idea of seeing people ‘around the world’ doing whatever, and seeing the different houses and the way people live, this idea is no longer a “concept” or a “great idea”, it’s cool to see, but the “concept” in it’s similarity has been done before, maybe not with food at a dinner table but the whole idea has been done. It’s defiantly cool to see, and doesn’t seem to get old as your imagination runs with the idea of something different than your own regardless of good or bad.

  • Random

    A few of these photos seem so odd to me…for example the first one : that’s a kitchen/dining room? It’s ‘modern’ and probably expensive deco but feels a bit like a lifeless office building. As well as the fifth photo (blue tablecloth and sky painting). It looks like they just put a table in a dentist’s office (white carpet, white walls, white blinds)??? @_@