Blood & Sand

Last month I was given an assignment to photograph Blood & Sand for Feast Magazine. Unlike other speakeasy-style bars in St. Louis, you don’t enter this one through a back door in an alley by the dumpsters. Tucked away on a side street off of Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis is a small set of stairs which leads to a classy wood and glass revolving door. A small silver plate which says Blood & Sand is the only exterior adornment. Despite the fact that it is easy to find, the occasionally seedy atmosphere of it’s location adds the necessary clandestine feel.

T.J. Vytlacil, Mixologist at Blood & Sand in St. Louis, MO

Through the revolving doors you go, and enter a surprisingly large bar area separated from an even larger dining room area by hanging antique windows (a design element I aspire for my own loft). The feel of this joint is definitely that of a mixture of antique and modern elegance and style. And that is kind of the point. Blood and Sand is meant to make you feel like you’re in a private club, and indeed, you are. A monthly membership fee is required to eat and drink at Blood & Sand, currently a modest $15 per month.

Why member’s only? The idea is to give each and every customer a personalized experience and to develop a relationship with everyone who patronizes the establishment. From the Blood & Sand website: “We are members-only for this reason: we are deeply committed to providing unparalleled service and an extraordinary dining and drinking experience. The meaningful relationships we create with our members and their guests are the source of our inspiration.”

Behind the bar you’ll find dozens of varied and interesting glassware, may of them one-of-a-kind. You’ll also see a wide variety of liquors, bitters, tinctures, simple syrups and garnishes that mixologist T.J. Vytlacil uses to create custom cocktails. I’m a man of simple tastes myself (give me some Irish whiskey on the rocks if you want to make me happy) so I tend to gravitate towards the classics like the old-fashioned and the Manhattan. But whether you are plain jane imbiber or a bit more adventurous, T.J. will find the perfect cocktail for you

Scallop Ceviche and Fried Chicken at Blood & Sand in St. Louis, MO.

Chef Chris Bork at Blood & Sand in St. Louis, MO

I didn’t get a chance to try the food that I photographed (above) but I’ve been back in a social capacity several times and grabbed some drinks and food with several of my friends. Chef Chris Bork has developed a great menu of small dishes, and at this point I think we’ve at tried most of the menu. The hand made tater tots are a must have, and then I have one word for you: sweatbreads. If they have sweatbreads on the menue when you visit Blood & Sand: get the sweatbreads. And of course the cocktails are intense, interesting and inventive. Bottoms up!

The Other Side of the Camera

As a professional photog, it is a rare occasion when you are the subject rather than the photographer, and it can be a bit disconcerting to be on the other side of the camera. Last week, my friend and fellow photographer Corey Woodruff lugged his gear over to my studio to photograph me as part of his Shoot The Shooter series.

Photograph by Corey Woodruff

Corey is a talented photographer with a completely different style than my own. In addition to food and music photography, Corey also shoots interesting portraits. His work features strong, rich colors and a quirky sensibility which lends itself to editorial portraiture. He has photographed a number of other photographers for his project and I was flattered to be a part of it.

Corey wanted to rif on the fact that I split my professional work between food photography and corporate photography and had me dress in a suit and tie and the we experimented with several food-related scenarios. Also I think he wanted to see how long he could get me to hold an apple in my mouth.

Photograph by Corey Woodruff

Corey also played off of the concept behind my food blog Shoot to Cook. I started the food blog last year as a way to teach myself how to be a better cook, so Corey took the concept of the bachelor learning how to cook and ran with it. Miller High Life really is the champagne of beers you know.

Photographs by Corey Woodruff

Check out more of Corey’s work at

Corporate Head Shot FAQ

These days having a professional portrait is as important as ever. When you are asked to provide a head shot for a trade magazine or when you upload your picture to a social media site like LinkedIn or Facebook, you will want to have great images to choose from. Snapping a shot with your cell phone camera in the hallway outside your office isn’t gonna cut it. Unless you are a creative professional you have probably never had to hire a photographer. The following is the first installment in a series of Frequently Asked Questions that will help you understand all of the various parts to a professional photo shoot. For more information about corporate photography, check out

How do I know what kind of portrait I am going to need?

When you are ready to start thinking about have a portrait made, the first thing you should do is set up a time to talk over the project with me. I will be able to give you a recommendation on what I think will work best for you. The most important piece of information you can give me is an outline of what you’re going to be using the images for. If you’re going to be using the images for proposals, trade publications, general marketing and social media, a professional head shot is probably what you need. If you need images for an ad campaign or a annual report, you may need something a little more complex. I would be happy to schedule an in-person meeting or phone consultation to determine what will best suit your needs!

Do you shoot in a studio or on location?

Rather than making your head shot in a studio in front of the proverbial gray backdrop, I specialize in custom and creative location portraits. Choosing the location for your head shot is a big decision. We will talk over your marketing strategy together and will find a location that will suit your particular needs. For a head shot, the best location is one that provides an interesting visual texture to the image and is aesthetically pleasing without drawing attention away from the most important part of the image: you!

Can we shoot my head shot in at my office?

Your own office or home are the perfect places to start with our location search. Working locally means I will be able to provide images that are uniquely suited to your needs and reflect your every day environment. As an added bonus, working at your location means that you won’t have to take as much time out of your busy day to travel to a studio – I bring the studio to you!

My office isn’t very exciting, can we still shoot the head shots here?

In many cases, your office is the perfect place for your head shot – even if you think your particular space is boring. Over the years I have seen my fair share of drab office spaces and I have a lot of experience making even the most basic spaces look exciting.

Can you do head shots for a whole team?

Yes! Consistent head shots for your entire team can be a powerful marketing tool. I can help you create a library of images of your team that can be used individually or side by side. Once I know the number of people on your team and we decide on the specifics for your shoot I’ll be able to provide you with a time estimate to photograph the whole team. In addition to individual head shots, I can also photograph your team as a group.

Are you able to work within the confines of my company’s brand?

Many companies work with branding experts to develop a look and feel that is standard across all of their marketing materials and publications. I have extensive experience working with corporate branding and will work with your marketing and creative teams to make images which work within your brand guidelines.

I need something a little more complex than a head shot for my marketing needs. Can you help?

Yes indeed! In addition to head shots I also do corporate portraits, group portraits, and annual report photography. If your marketing needs are more involved and require something more than a simple head shot I would be happy to discuss the details with you. Depending on the type of shots you have in mind, there may be some additional logistics that factor into a location decision, particularly one that involves shooting on public or private property you or your company doesn’t own. Give me a call and let me know what you have in mind and I’d be happy to provide you with a recommendation.

Do you have experience working with marketing departments and creative teams?

You bet! Prior to opening my photography business I worked in corporate creative departments for more than ten years. With a background in graphic design, I can work with your creative team, marketing department, or agency to make images that fit seamlessly into a new or existing marketing campaign. Feel free to have your creative professionals contact me with questions, or we can sit down together as a group and figure out exactly what will work best for your situation.

More Questions?

Not finding the answers you’re looking for? Check out some of the other articles in the FAQ section. You should also feel free to call (314) 514-5238 or send an email to for a free consultation. You may also contact Jonathan by filling out the form below:

Corporate Headshot by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman

Portrait Photography

Nothing says success like a professional portrait. Jonathan has worked with Fortune 500 companies on marketing materials, annual reports and national ad campaigns. Portraits aren’t just for your annual report either. A great portrait on your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or Twitter feed goes a long way. Jonathan specializes in contextual and environmental portraits that not only put you in the best light, but highlights your life and environment as well. Click here for more information about Jonathan’s corporate and professional head shots.

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