Sometimes, when I tell people what I do they say, "That sounds like a fun job." I can't deny it–it's great work when you can get it. Then there's Zack Brooks from the Food Is The New Rock podcast. He has a really fun job. He gets to talk to musicians about food and chefs about music. I worked with Zack for a while but what does an audio podcast really need a photographer for anyway?
The answer came when Zack called me to see if I was interested in shooting 5 LA chefs in their restaurant kitchens and then a dinner party. It was for a promotion Ultimate Ears was doing for their portable Bluetooth speaker, the UE Boom. "Uh, hell yes!" was my brilliant response.
The concept was family meal at the restaurant. The tradition of the staff eating a meal after prep and before service has been getting mainstream attention thanks to some books on the subject and industry Instagramers. The 5 chefs would share a family meal recipe and a music album that inspires them. My job was to get a shot of the chef in their kitchen and also a shot of the family meal. The challenge: often I had about 15 minutes to get in, get the shots and get out before the staff descended for their much-deserved dinner before service.
Setting up lights was definitely out of the question. I didn't have the time or the space to do it. The best I could do was bring one or two Speedlites to strategically bounce some light around the kitchen. Shooting the food required some quick finesse. I got lucky at a couple of the restaurants and was able to shoot close to a window. The others I just winged it.
The chefs were Jeremy Fox at Rustic Canyon, Bruce Kalman at Union, Josef Centeno at Orsa & Winston, CJ Jacobson at Girasol, and Karen Hatfield at Sycamore Kitchen. Everyone was great and helped to accommodate me as best they could in the flow of the day.
The second part of the assignment was to shot an overhead of a table with all five family meals labeled with the chefs and their musical inspiration and then a party with people enjoying the food. This was a produced shoot so I could take the time to do what I wanted.
Thankfully, I was helped by food stylist Nicole Kruzick who cooked the five of the family meals. Prep for this shoot took all day to get ready for the evening party. While Nicole cooked, I set up for the overhead shot. I didn't want to shoot it with a wide lens so I put the camera on a second floor landing with the table below.
Once the overhead shot was done, we transferred everything to the kitchen and let the people loose on the food while I captured the action. It was a long day but a really fun one.
I was able to capture some of the behind-the-scenes action for a 'making of' video.