Tiny people play around on food in surreal photos

Tennis Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida
These tiny figures play tennis on a court of eggs.

Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida met as photography students at the School for Fine Arts in Paris, but they quickly realized they shared another love besides art — food!

The two friends began working on their project "Minimiam" in 2002, creating photos that show tiny people interacting on backdrops of giant pieces of food, like fruits, nuts, vegetables, and sweets. The flip-flopping of sizes creates a fun but dramatic look, and the whimsical pictures have become big hits online, with many recently going viral.

At first, Ida explained to TODAY, they shot the images with a Polaroid camera. But the advent of digital film gave them the ability to create multiple layers. “That allowed us to evolve the characters,” he says.

Still, he is quick to note that the basic process for coming up with a scene, characters, and backdrop has not changed much since the two artists began working: “The ideas must remain simple and accessible.”

'Slice' Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
Tennis can also be played on top of a watermelon.

Since there are no captions or dialogue bubbles on the photos, the "storylines" have to be easy to understand.

The images often play off of well-known pop culture moments or iconic photographs, such as the moon landing or New York City construction workers eating lunch on a bridge. Some are domestic scenes, some involve sports, and a few — like one of people standing around looking at stacks of peanuts the way museum-goers look at pieces of art — poke fun at themselves.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Photographers create small, sweet universe

    Artists turn pomegranates into playgrounds and sushi into skyscrapers in this series of creative food photos.

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    Playing around -

    Photographers Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida stared their project "Minimiam" in 2002, in which they capture playful images of tiny figures interacting with everyday foods. In this piece, dubbed "Avocat," a miniature athlete gets airborne near an avocado.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Bento -

    This image evokes the iconic photograph of construction workers eating lunch on a bridge over New York City. Here, however, they're tiny people balancing over a bento box.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Cupcake -

    The artists like to keep their ideas simple so the images are easy to understand.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Papy-luge -

    In this image, the miniature figures take a sled ride through a bowl of whipped cream.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    220 Grammes -

    These tiny bodybuilders show off on a baking scale.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Smash -

    Tennis takes a toll on the court when you play on an eggshell.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Sweet Green -

    This golf course is awfully sweet - and icy.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Amande -

    Miniature rock climbers scale a sea of almonds.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Noisette -

    Standing on hazelnuts.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Piment Rouge -

    Putting the fire - from a bunch of hot peppers.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Slice -

    Watermelon doubles as a tennis court.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Spaghetti -

    Not your average bowl of noodles.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Mont Ventoux -

    Riding up an egg mountain.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Guimauvator -

    This robot/monster creation looks eerily like a Rice Krispie treat.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Grenade -

    Watch out for the exploding fruit!
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Galette -

    Anti-gravity cake?
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Parachute -

    Floating over an otherworldy landscape.
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida
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    Curry Rouge -

    The surface of another planet, or a powder spill?
    Pierre Javell and Akiko Ida

The pair of professional photographers, who work on Minimiam together as a side project from their regular paid gigs, say that simply putting food in a picture means it might not get taken seriously. But the sense of fun and whimsy come through for just about any viewer.

“When they see the images, they change their perspectives,” Ida says. “At exhibits, people have come up to me and thanked me for making them happy. That’s a great gift – and also a kind of responsibility.”

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