Chiron Cole: the photographer documenting Sunday Dinners

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Sunday is the day we most associate with relaxation, slowing down and eating long-lasting lunches. Everyone seems to have their own Sunday traditions: whether it involves sleeping that little bit longer, catching a movie on the couch, sharing a roast or barbecue with friends and family, or perhaps getting some fresh air. Perpetual fly on the wall and talented photographer, Chiron Cole captures these quiet moments via her ongoing photography project Sunday Dinners.

We took some time out with Chiron, to find out what she’s discovered by getting a firsthand glimpse at other people’s Sunday rituals:

How did Sunday Dinners come about? What inspired you to begin this project?

I love people watching and I love photographing people in their own environment. I am also pretty obsessed with food and how it connects us with each other and comforts us. I’ve always discussed with friends what we do on a Sunday and I’ve been intrigued for a long time as to what people do if they can use a Sunday as a day of rest. I thought there was something in a photo study of what people eat and how they spend the day, who they spend it with and what they do, if anything. Sundays are the one day of the week that is universally known as a day of rest. I love seeing and hearing about recipes people have tried or want to try, so I thought it might be a fun personal project. It then escalated from there.

Chiron Cole - Sunday Dinners

Is it purely by chance you meet the people you shoot? And have people generally been welcoming?

So far, it’s been a mixture of chance and also being connected with people through mutual friends/acquaintances that have heard about the project. I was walking across a busy main road in Walthamstow where I live and a chef who I really want to shoot was walking towards me. We both had our dogs with us who stopped at the most inappropriate time in the middle of the road to have a canoodle. It was adorable but both myself and the chef were a bit preoccupied with not getting run over, so we carried on walking, dragging the dogs apart as if they’d instantly fallen in love.

I thought that was a perfect opportunity (if a bit random) to drop her an email and see if she would be interested in taking part. She’s signed up! Generally, people have been wonderful. People have been really interested in what others do and it’s been amazing to learn so many stories and rituals and habits people have. Or don’t have, which I’m finding just as fascinating. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming and helpful and have been trying to feed me food. It’s really not my objective to eat people’s dinner, but I have to admit there have been some very tasty dishes!

From viewing the way different people spend time on a Sunday, have you discovered anything people seem to share in common?

I think what people have in common is that everyone is focusing on unwinding and spending quality time with others, or themselves. I’ve shot people that have spent the Sunday on their own, or with a partner, or friends and/or family but it seems to be important for people to down tools, do very little and recharge, ready for the new week. That is the beautiful thing about this project, everyone has a slightly different way of achieving that, but ultimately most people are striving for the same thing.

What do you love most about this project? Has there been any unexpected challenges along the way?

The variety. People do all sorts on a Sunday and it’s been such a fun journey for me to document all kinds of rituals. There are still many more I’ve got lined up and I’m always looking for new stories to shoot as it’s an ongoing study. I can honestly say there haven’t been any challenges so far. Only that I can’t get to everyone quick enough. I’ve got people signed up to take part in various countries around the world so the challenge is getting to them as soon as possible. People have welcomed me into their homes and have allowed me to be a fly on the wall and it’s been a wonderful experience so far.

Chiron Cole - Sunday Dinners

When you’re not photographing another person’s typical Sunday, how do you spend yours?

By doing as little as possible. Both my husband Tim and I are photographers, so if one of us was shooting on the Saturday, the other will cook. We’ll usually take our dog Henry (a two year old miniature schnauzer) for a walk together to either Walthamstow Marshes or Wanstead Park, then one of us will cook. We’ll then spend the rest of the day on the sofa with a snoring Henry and watch a film or two, or plow through as much as we can of a box set. There’s usually a competition to see who will fall asleep first. I think I win every time!

What do you like to cook on a Sunday?

As much as I love summer weather, I love winter food. I love cooking comfort food. A roast, or wellington or toad in the hole. Parsnips, stuffing, Yorkshires, the works. Tim and I are always battling to outdo each other with our roast potatoes. I have just lost the crown. I am gutted!

What are your Sunday traditions? Comment below or head to the forum

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Chiron Cole Sunday Suppers

Want to see more?

Head to Chiron’s Sunday Dinners website to glimpse her gorgeous photography. And, follow Chiron on Instagram.

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Chiron Cole