Xavier Buendia Raises Awareness on Suicide with a Photo Collaboration Project

All images by Xavier Buendia. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Creative minds are capable of making great things on their own, but collaborations always bring something interesting to the table. Some of the most unique and eye-opening collaborative projects also come from the merging of different industries. Brighton-based food and portrait photographer Xavier Buendia gives us an example of this in a recent project he did in partnership with a restaurant.

A week ahead of Valentine’s Day, Xavier shot a project for Silo Restaurant in with the goal of raising awareness for depression and suicide. Instead of making a straightforward food-related set, they came up with a series of blind portraits inspired by a prior project.

“So, these blind portraits are a way to show their ever-growing cocktail list and we always get a member of the staff to hold a cocktail right in front of the lens while their face is hiding behind the cocktail,” Xavier shared. “This idea came from a brainstorming session with chef and owner Doug McMaster. We wanted to show both the drinks and the person but having the drink as the main element in the photograph without the distraction of a recognizable face. So, I took inspiration from Rene Magritte’s painting, The Son of Man.”

Silo Restaurant wanted to do the same visual approach for a new campaign centered on raising awareness of the difficult subject of suicide, ahead of Valentine’s Day. Xavier and Silo ended up creating a series that was more centered around one of the most traditional symbols of the occasion: roses.

“We shot this as we usually do in the restaurant but with an emphasis on the subject making the photos more dramatic. Having a feeling of loneliness but expressing hope as the extending hand offers a rose,” Xavier said.

“The inspiration was finding meaning where there was none. Valentine’s Day has become a commercial event with little social value. I loved the idea of flipping the switch to ‘add beauty’ which is the Silo way,” shared Silo owner and chef Doug McMaster. “It’s a subject that has personally affected me, so when I heard Paul at Troll Burger talk about his Selfie competition I was very inspired to help. So we donate tickets for our Valentine’s even for the winners of his Selfie competition. And then came the ‘Reaching Out’ vision. The rose is a symbol of love, compassion and it’s something you give on Valentine’s Day.”

It’s definitely an out-of-the-box approach for a restaurant’s campaign, but I do feel they could have taken this up a notch and made it still related to food. For example, they could have created roses and flowers using food items using bacon (yes, bacon roses are actually a thing), ham, cheese, fruits, and vegetables.

Check out Xavier Buendia’s website and Behance portfolio to see his food and portrait photography projects.

Editor’s Note: Xavier is one of our contributors to the Phoblographer.