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!
How many posts do you think I can possibly start with some variation of the phrase “It’s been a busy month and I haven’t had time to work on the blog”? Apparently a lot. The good news (for me anyway) is that the reason posting has been so light lately has been because of the a whole lotta work which I hope to be able to share shortly. The other thing that has been taking up a lot of time for me is several personal projects.
I have been in St. Louis for just over a year now (where did the time go??) and while my navigational skills are getting better, I still have a lot to learn about the various neighborhoods in the area. I have enough trouble getting around these neighborhoods, let alone familiarizing myself with all of the restaurants in each. This is where my recent food photography assignments have come in handy: they force me out of my usual haunts and get me out into neighborhoods that I don’t normally get to, in this case, Webster Groves.
I photographed The Block in Webster Groves for Sauce Magazine on a hot and steamy Tuesday night in early August and despite the fact that it had only been open a matter of weeks, word was definitely out. As I photographed some of their amazing meat and fish dishes at a small table by the door people started to arrive in droves. By 5:30, the dining room was filled to capacity and the bar had standing room only, packed with people. I, for one, would happily wait in a line just for their milk chocolate ice cream with bacon and chocolate syrup. Yep, that’s right, chocolate and bacon. I realize that bacon has become perhaps a little too ubiquitous these days but still, it’s bacon. In this case, bacon on ice cream.
My shoot at The Block was pretty intense – there was another photographer there on an assignment from another magazine and as I mentioned, the place was slammed. I usually try to schedule my restaurant shoots for slow times, but it seems like there are no slow times at the Block. The owners and staff rocked it though, and were super helpful with me and the hungry patrons packing in the doors. I’m looking forward to going back on a night when I’m not working so I can enjoy the food even more! You can read the full review of The Block over at Sauce Magazine’s website.
I recently had the pleasure of photographing Dvin restaurant in Webster Groves, St. Louis. Dvin is a tiny family restaurant run by the mother/daughter team: mom cooks and daughter serves. The interior really feels like you’re having dinner in a Ukranian grandmother’s living room filled with Eastern European tsotchkes and knick-knacks. The exterior windows are obscured with lace and houseplants giving the place a closed appearance even when it’s open. It was definitely a challenge to photograph but I had a blast doing it. Read the Sauce review of Dvin then get out there and support a great family restaurant.
I usually try to update my website every year or so to adapt for the way that my career and life has evolved. Last year when I updated jonathangayman.com I was more focused on marketing towards my corporate clients, but in the past year my work has started to slide more towards the food and lifestyle side. I had two main goals when putting together this site refresh: simplify the design for a more professional look that would really focus on the images, and to have an overall light theme rather than a dark one.
I have been using a combination of WordPress and PhotoShelter for years, but with this iteration of my site I decided to integrate PhotoShelter a lot more. I have been a PhotoShelter subscriber for several years, but I have never taken full advantage of the website features that they offer. WordPress is a great content management system for blogging, and while they have decent image management for the casual user, they just don’t have the kind of image heavy processing ability that I need. So I turned to PhotoShelter to handle 90% of the image galleries, portfolios and image distribution/sales.
Give it a look, kick the tires, let me know if anything is broken…
As I mentioned in my previous post, I did some work for Sauce Magazine, a culinary magazine here in St. Louis. While the majority of my work these days is corporate, I have been exploring food culture and photography over at my blog Shoot To Cook, and it is always exciting to get food assignments.
My assignments for the July Issue included The Boat House in Forest Park, a recipe ingredient’s shot, and the vegan banh mih at Sweet Art. If you haven’t been to Sweet Art you should totally check it out, and I have to say that the banh mi tastes just as good as it looks. I am a dedicated carnivore, but I have to admit that it is a fantastic sandwich and shouldn’t be missed.
In the world of corporate photography, the summer is always the slowest time of the year. In my experience Memorial Day sparks the time of the year when companies face the challenge of dealing with vacations. I think that in a lot of cases, one or more decision makers for any given project are out on vacation, so if plans haven’t been made well in advance, decisions like hiring photographers for projects tend to slow down until the end of August.
Despite this slow down I haven’t been idle. In addition to my usual clients I had the pleasure of working on a few assignments for one of my favorite local publications, Sauce Magazine. Not only an excellent culinary resource, Sauce also sources great images from our pool excellent local photographers. I’m excited to be a part of it. If you haven’t seen Sauce you should definitely hit up your news stand now to grab a copy. If you don’t happen to live in the area, not to worry it’s available in a digital format as well.
One of my assignments was to make some photographs of the beautiful Boat House in Forest Park.In Sauce Magazine’s Reader’s Choice issue that just came out, the Boat House was voted Best Place for Kids, but it’s a pretty great place for the adults too. The Boat House is an popular place to hang out in the evenings, have a drink and watch the sun set. If you’re so inclined you can also rent paddle boats and canoes to troll around the waterways of the park. It’s definitely a great place for dinner and drink year round. Here are a few outtakes from the shoot:
As an interesting side note, this is the first project I’ve worked on that I have been bitten by a dog! I was stationed out on the far shore across from the Boat House just after sunset to capture a long exposure night shot when all of a sudden, out of nowhere a tiny ball of fur came running out of the darkness. It was a ferocious and very determined teacup poodle trailing a leash. This little Napoleon apparently thought I was the paparazzi and before I could move he gave my ankle a good nip. Luckily for me, his bark was definitely worse than his bite and I was unharmed.