A couple months ago I had a fun shoot with Chef Ashley Shelton and Bess Kretsinger Heffernan, the GM, from Sardella, one of the newer Gerard Craft joints here in St. Louis. One of the things that Ashley and Bess focus on is a environment in their shop that breaks the mold of most kitchens. These two were a lot of fun to work with – I had a blast at this shoot. Hey, this is for Wine Enthusiast, so why not swig from a bottle in a paper bag like a bodega forty? Nailed it.
I had a fun shoot for Feast Magazine a couple of months ago, right before Easter. It was fun to spend some time back in the small downtown studio as opposed to the big one I’m now working out of in the county. Don’t get me wrong, the big studio is awesome – the extra elbow room is fantastic (and it is also pretty great working with a larger team). But sometimes the small, streamlined shoots can be fun as well. In any case, can’t go wrong with cheese!
When I was growing up, my dad had a wonderful garden at our home in Pennsylvania, and we always had access to fresh vegetables in the summer. When I moved out of my parents house in the late 90s though, I chose to live in more urban areas, and while I would love to have a garden of my own, this is never possible. When I was in NYC I dreamed of having a rooftop garden, but that was never possible. When we moved to St. Louis I attempted some balcony farming, but never put the appropriate time or effort into it. Hey, it’s a balcony and I’m lazy. However, the folks at Urban Harvest STL are much more dedicated that I am to urban farming, and I was lucky enough to photograph their fabulous roof top farm located just a few blocks from my studio.
Chef Kevin Nashan is an institution in St. Louis. His first restaurant, Sydney Street Cafe has received numerous awards and is on the top of everyone’s list of great places to eat in St. Louis. He recently opened up a second restaurant down the road from Sydney Street called Peacemaker Lobster & Crab. As you can tell by the name, Peacemaker has a focus on shellfish but even if you’re not a fan of lobster (although who isn’t) there is lot of other great food to choose from as well … brisket po’boy with a side of fried green tomatoes anyone?
Who wants a sandwich? How about six of them? In August I had the opportunity to photograph five of the most popular sandwich shops in St. Louis for Feast Magazine. The art director, Lisa Allen, has a thing for stacking things when we do our studio shoots and this shoot was no different. After we’d made the beauty shots of each individual sandwich, we broke out the skewers and went to work.
Each month I am luckily enough to shoot a column for Feast Magazine called What We’re Buying. The column focuses on a variety of products from a variety of different manufacturers that tie-in together as a theme. In the April issue, the focus was on spring and gardening, so the art director and I set about creating a quaint country potting shed … in my downtown urban studio.
I worked on a number of assignments for Sauce this month including a feature called The List, where Sauce talks about “the people, places, dishes and drinks we love.” As part of that assignment I photographed the Moll’s Cup No. 3 Cocktail, the brainchild of bartender Jeffrey Moll, Jr. Moll makes his own Pimm’s-eque liquer, mixes it with house-made pastis, and then bottles it with carbonated ginger-infused water in individual serving sizes. This is really helpful when serving, because the garnish takes quite a bit of time to prepare. To say that it is a garnish is not really fair … as Sauce put it, the fruit is an “edible work of art.”
Last month I got a fun assignment for Sauce Magazine: photographing Tripel in Lafayette Square for the November issue. The photos were for the the Nightlife section, which is a column that I cover regularly. Each month the column includes a main opening photograph of the crowded nightspot and a couple of food shots for the side bar. Despite the fact that the brief is usually pretty simple, this column is a little tricky to shoot each month. For one thing, most bars and restaurants don’t want you to come in during peak hours to photograph the food portion of the assignment. Unfortunately it’s hard to get a good crowd shot of a bar in the middle of the afternoon. As a result I usually end up going back at least once more after dark to get the “nightlife” shot, sometimes multiple times because inevitably the bar has a slow night, or empties out exactly when I arrive with my camera. Gar.
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, one of the great things about being part of the food industry is getting to see what goes on behind scenes at restaurants – the controlled chaos (or sometimes uncontrolled chaos) that results in the food that is brought to your table. Some kitchens are quiet and orderly, some are just insane hubs of activity with steam and flames and smoke everywhere. Most fall somewhere in-between, and while there are often a lot of similarities, each kitchen has it’s own unique culture and feel.
The great thing about digital photography is that we are no longer bound 12, 24, or 36 frames at a time. And we don’t need to waste time during setup to snap a few polaroids. And yes, as a commercial photographer, it is in my best interest to be economical with my shots if for no other reason than the amount of time needed to edit 1000 shots is obviously much great than 100 shots. That said, however, I’m not afraid to keep shooting until I’m sure I’m got the shoot, and more importantly, until the client is sure as well.