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Field Guide

For commercial photographer Chris Whonsetler, taking the camera out of the studio and into the wild provided a close-up of the food on his plate.

Chris Whonsetler processes whole-animal game.Photo courtesy Chris Whonsetler

MAGAZINE FOOD SPREADS, fashion, and portraiture have long been the mainstays of photographer Chris Whonsetler’s camerawork at his downtown studio in the Stutz building. Yet the Marion native, who grew up eating his dad’s tomatoes warm from the garden and snacking in the kitchen while his mother cooked, has always been curious about where his meals came from. Whonsetler moved to Fishers after he got married and started focusing on photography jobs, but he never lost his fascination with the inner workings of the natural world.

A growing interest in hunting (encouraged by his uncle and a best friend) as well as shows like Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods and the Chef’s Table series on Netflix, got Whonsetler’s gears moving. It was then that he took his camera out into the wild. The result was From Field to Table, a sleek web collection of videos, photo shoots, and cooking demos complete with a small merchandise line, all aimed at teaching viewers about the art and skill of living off the land.

Shots of duck carcasses, severed frog legs, and felled deer might not seem the stuff of Instagram accounts, but Whonsetler is building a dedicated following of viewers curious about gardening, foraging, and processing whole-animal game. “Photography triggers that same chemical process in your brain that you get when actually smelling and eating a dish,” Whonsetler says. “So it’s no wonder food photography is so popular on social media. Now, I want to show people what I’m doing so I can inspire them.”   

Terry Kirts joined Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in journals and anthologies including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the 2011 collection To the Refrigerator Gods.
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