The eggs and I: a love story

Art of the stovetop, art of the camera: for photographer Mike Zacchino, a daily gift of fried eggs becomes a portfolio of variations on a theme

Art on the grid: a series of 49 of the first 52 eggs in the series, arranged by choice, not sequentially. Photo montage by Mike Zacchino

“Everyone loves a good love story.”

That’s what Anne said to me this morning as we ate breakfast on our 15th wedding anniversary. Anne loves eggs, and I love her, which is why I have been making her breakfast daily since sometime last year.

Earlier this year, I began photographing the process of frying an egg. Since then, I’ve photographed every egg I’ve fried; today, I fried and photographed the 59th egg.

Recently, I told Anne I could find myself wandering down a rabbit hole with this project.

“Honey, I think that day has long since passed.”

She’s correct; what began as a lark has developed into a routine endeavor that feeds my soul, and keeps her sated until lunch.

Once the egg lands in the pan I begin shooting and don’t touch the egg until I am ready to flip it. Earlier, I may have popped an air bubble or two, but no more; now, the egg continues its journey without intervention.

Sometimes, I find myself heating the pan longer or changing the amount of oil I use to see how it impacts the cooking process, and ultimately, the image.

For each day, I choose just one frame to represent the day. Some days are easy because one image speaks to me more than all the others; on other days, I’m deleting an intriguing image because another feels like the proper choice.

Regardless of whether I cook them hotter or with more oil, they always taste good, according to Anne; I try and not lose sight of the fact that this is still about feeding her.

I posted the first nine singles on my Instagram feed so they would appear as a 3 x 3 grid. Seeing them grouped together inspired me to continue photographing them.

Recently, I compiled a 7 x 7 grid of 49 of the first eggs I cooked. Instead of arranging them chronologically, I arranged them in no particular order but for how I thought they should lie. This was the most satisfying display I’ve compiled, and am looking forward to many more.

So far, the images have been shot on my iPhone X, but I am in the process of figuring the best way to consistently photograph them on my DSLR.

Where this takes me and when I’ll stop is anyone’s guess. For now, I’m having fun, and keeping Anne fed.

The first nine, sequentially from lower right to upper left. Photo montage by Mike Zacchino

I wrote the following on the day I photographed the ninth egg, which helps explain how this all began:

***

WEDNESDAY, 7 APRIL 2021–Lately, the egg has become my muse.

As some of you know, I make Anne’s breakfast every morning, and eggs are a constant.

Often one, with two on Saturday, and sometimes none on Sunday.

We’re into a routine.

I believe it was Jolie Wilson who remarked that it was so romantic, my daily ritual of making breakfast before Anne dashes off to work.

Some men bring roses. I fry an egg and slide it onto a quesadilla.

What is love, after all?

This morning, I slept in.

Anne had been awake for three hours, and my first words to her when I came into the livingroom were, “Please tell me you didn’t make your egg this morning!”

“No honey, I waited for you; but I‘m starving.”

Recently, I took a photo of an egg as it cooked.

Today, I photographed the ninth egg before serving it to my starving spouse.

She said it was perfect, but they never look perfect, and that is why I photograph them.

They are never the same, but they are always perfect as they are.

I use the same cast-iron “GRISWOLD SQUARE EGG SKILLET”, given to me by my brother-in-law. I much prefer the square skillet and one egg option. They cook better.

After moving to Southern Oregon, I’ve struggled to find that daily inspiration to make pictures.

For now, it’s eggs.

Now, I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 37 years and will only consider eating eggs if they are disguised in pasta or baked goods, but never as the lead act.

Still, they have a special place in my heart. They are always beautiful, even when they are broken; and they never lie the same way twice.

Their imperfection is pure, as is my love for Anne.

Tomorrow, we’ll try again.

One egg, at various stages of cooking.. Photo montage by Mike Zacchino

***

Mike Zacchino’s love of photography began when he witnessed the process of developing a print from a black and white negative in his friend’s darkroom. He carried his passion into a career in journalism, where he had a variety of roles in photo departments at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and The Oregonian. Currently, Mike is the Assignment Manager at NewsWatch 12, the ABC affiliate in Southern Oregon. When he is not photographing eggs frying, he may be found in someone’s garden, photographing bearded irises. Find more of his work on his Instagram page.

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