Last year I had the amazing opportunity to shoot five of the great Texas Chefs! Thanks to Leslie Brenner from Dallas Morning News. Read more here. In order below, Dean Fearing at Fearing's; Stephan Pyles at Stampede66; Jeff Harris at AF+B; Michael Sindoni at CBD Provisions, and last but not least, Tim Byers at Smoke. These guys were true pros and all so gracious.
These are all over the place! At the old studio, new studio, at their test kitchens. Both with available light and simulated window light, and some times with a little simulated sunlight. Food stylists have been Kat Hughes, Paige Fletcher, Stephanie Greenwood, Liz Duffy. Prop styling by Mike Thompson, Kristen Butler, and Jay Evers.
Another Oak Cliff gem and a local favorite. Owner Shannon Neffendorf. Here is my visual take on the place and it's ambience. All images captured with available light.
El Gran Chef André Natera! Gone to Austin, Texas. :-( For this shoot back from when he was here at Village Kitchen, also gone. This one we had to create our own window light with a strobe behind a large 6' x 6' scrim to the right side and slightly behind the dish.
Another shoot from 2013, August. Assignment for Leslie B, from DMN-FD Luxe. Read article here. I believe they have changed chef, but back then it was the incomparable Richard Gras! Hard working, creative, and joyous man! Also shot using available light, both for the shots in the kitchen and the shots in the dinning area.
Tim Bevins has always been a favorite of mine from when he was at Craft at the W Hotel. Great chef and a great guy. This photo session was at The Front Room, for Leslie Brenner, FD/Dallas Morning News. Assignment was in 2013 when Tim was still there. Story on images below here.
It's been a busy 4 months here in Dallas, Texas, shooting jobs AND moving from old to new studio! Here is a job I shot for one of our local favorites back in May, Tillman's Roadhouse. Some new tasty dishes for their 2014 menu. Shot in a 7 hour day, with available window light, at the restaurant. Using black cards to substract light and increase contrast. I kept moving the table to adjust for best light on each dish.
Production and prop styling by Kristen Dale Butler. Food styling by Stephanie Greenwood.
Modern Luxury Magazine invited me to shoot and enjoy this fine evening of food, friends, and the best Rosé I've ever drank! At the Burn's residence in Dallas, Texas. Read more about the Rosé here. Shot with available light.
Happy New Year to all! Wishing all my visitors good health, peace, love, prosperity, and good fortune in 2014.
I begin this year with a couple of pictures of the parsnip. Why a parsnip, you might ask? Because one of my fav art directors, Jamie Laubhan-Oliver, called me with a last minute request needing a shot of it. And in my humble opinion, It’s a pretty shot, and because I haven't posted anything since October! And because somewhere in the universe, this handsome vegetable is a symbol of fertility, or good fortune. Perfect foto for the new year!
Finding it in December was not easy though. No luck at at the local grocery stores. Adorable and perky Kelley, better known as Jennie Kelley, of MasterChef fame, knew exactly where to find it, but I can’t tell you where, I am sworn to secrecy.
Parsnip actually makes a great zuppa. And Jennie actually used it that same weekend for her underground restaurant. I’ll have to photograph the recipe soon…
I present to you, The Pastinaca Sativa! Root vegetable of fertility gods, somewhere.
Feliz y prospero año nuevo!
Real food. Real meals. Fotographed for Central Market, with art director Garrett Owen from RBMM, Dallas. I am very fortunate to had been chosen to work on these images with Garrett, spurring us to “make it dirty”! Food styling by Stephanie Jo Greenwood and Robyn Valarik. Prop styling by Kristen D. Butler. Food stylist assistants, Yvonne Clarke, Jennie Kelly, and Tony Montanez. Asistente de Fotografo. Benjamin Gibson.
Shot with DSLR directly above dish, on simple white background. Lighting source was one soft-light box high above, with a fill card here and there.
Baudoin y Flores! (wouldn’t that be a good name for a bottle of a vino tinto español?) are the dinamic duo, manager and chef respectively, of the deliciously successful Driftwood restaurant in Oak Cliff, Texas. This fall they will be opening a second restaurant in Oak Cliff by the name Casa Rubia, focusing on “modern tapas” a la Omar Flores.
I’ll be hoping for a Paella Valenciana, can Flores deliver? ;-)
When I arrived at the restaurant for our photo session, John Baudoin was seated at a table with the wine rep, tasting Spanish wines for Casa Rubia. A tough job but someone has to do it. There was beautiful energy and light to photograph John Baudoin right there where he was sitting.
The restaurant (Driftwood) where Flores was cooking the dishes for the shoot has windows all around so finding a table to use the available light was not difficult. The fotos below were lit with window light from the left side of the camera, rotating the table and dish so as to have the strength of the light coming from behind the dish. I almost always rotate the plate to find the best highlights and shadows on the food. If you do this the food will tell you how to shoot it. And as usual, no extra cards or reflectors were used.
The fotos of Flores in the kitchen, were a bit more challenging. It’s a tight kitchen and the guys are prepping food, so adding a light-stand, a power pack, cords, and camera tripod, was out of the question. I shot Omar with the available kitchen lights, with a high ISO (2400), hand held DSLR. I think it works.
DaVinci Wines has selected me as one of the 12 finalists to capture the DaVinci wine making culture with my camera, in Tuscany! Please go here and, if you think I deserve it, vote for me! (you can vote once every day)
Voting is closed! Now the wait to find out who won.
A quick post of the butternut squash soup I shot for D Mag last week. I love soup! Growing up, seems like mom made some variety of soup almost every month. One doesn't wait for cool months in Miami to drink soup. This butternut squash soup was very delicious but we will have to wait for the recipe till the next issue of D Magazine's D Mom is published. Food styling by Stephanie Greenwood. Art director, Jamie Laubhan-Oliver.
The background was a large marble slab we use in the studio all the time. It is one of my favorite surfaces. For lighting I used one large softbox high and to the left of camera, and slightly behind the soup bowl, placed just at the perfect spot to capture those pretty "liquid" highlights on the surface of the soup. No fill cards. Camera was placed almost directly above the bowl, and the capture had to occur promptly so that the spoon wouldn't sink too fast.
Some people are obsessed with macarons, I’ve learned. I guess that is why there are quite a few places popping up around town that specialize in macarons. I am not one of them, I find them extremely sweet. Go figure, for one who likes to have ice cream for breakfast with sugary cereal and sweetened condensed milk!! (see previous post)
These images were taken for one of our favorite Dallas agencies, The Richards Group. Art directed by the fabulous Glen Dady, with the help of art producer and macaron taste tester, the incomparable Wendy White. Resourced and styled by Kristen Dale Butler. Macarons came from Tart Bakery.
Lighting was a single strobe shooting through a 6’ X 6’ diffused scrim, what I like to call a simulated window light, on the left side and slightly behind the macarons, with no fill cards.
Ridiculous! Oh come on, once a year won't hurt. Pick your favorite ice cream, your favorite cereal, and your favorite topping, and enjoy. Look, it's cereal with milk and sugar. What's the big deal.
We actually did this for a client a couple of years ago, and they all participated! They had a very guilty look on their faces all day, and not much got done the rest of the morning, but they loved it! My personal favorite (not photographed, so not to be tempted) is Häagen-Dazs Chocolate with Sugar Corn Pops, drizzled with sweet condensed milk!
Camera directly above. Window light from the left. Black 4' x 4' card above the camera to kill any fill light and add contrast. Kristen Butler keeps it cheery and breakfastsy looking with her prop styling and Food Stylist Stephanie Greenwood whips up the real thing in six different flavors. Ben Gibson, photo tech and official taster. Couldn't do it without them!
So, without much more to say, here is our take on it.
Yes you read correctly. A red velvet cake made into the shape of a boar’s head. This was one tremendously fun shoot for Rob Brinkley at FD Luxe Magazine. Conceived and styled by the one and only Jimmie Hensley.
Not a typical food shot, but I decided to include it in my blog because it was fun and simply wanted to share this with you all.
We love how Jimmie mixes it all up here, a $17,000. Hermes folding bench, a $5,000. Ralph Lauren stag punchbowl to hold the McDonald’s french fries, and the amazing cake by Lauren of Fancy Cakes. The cake was all real! Fondant on the outside of course and delicious red velvet inside. Served with veggies made with fondant as well.
I did not include the picture of the boar’s head cake sliced open because it didn’t look very appetizing. Tasted like red velvet, but not a pretty shot. :-(
The mostly overcast day was perfect for the shoot! I am lucky that way. Just a few fill cards here and there. The main shot was done with camera on tripod, later I walked around with my camera hand held.
I hope you like the change of pace.
Click on dots to see the rest of the fotos!
Taco stands in Dallas, Texas are like Pizza stands in New York, seems like there's one in every corner.
This one, La Ventana, I shot for FD Luxe Magazine last month and it sits directly behind another two Tex Mex restaurants. Yes, three Mexican restaurants on one city block! Yet they all have their distinct flavors, decor, and atmosphere, keeping us all addicted to Tex Mex.
We didn't take any lights at all for this since we new we were going to be outside, the only seating available. We shot the food right before dusk, and simply held a 4' X 4' black card directly above the food/table allowing light to come from the sides. Other than having my assistant tilt the card to allow more or less light in, that was it. Sweet and simple. The other environment shots were done with a tripod at dusk and after, allowing longer exposures for the lights around the eating area.
Hope you like.
Click on image to view more images from this shoot.
What is a Cuban doing celebrating the Chinese New Year you might ask?
Well let me give you a tiny bit of Cuban history my friends. The Chinese came to Cuba in the mid 1800's to toil in the sugar cane fields. Some as slaves, others looking for better working and living conditions as compared to what was going on in China at that time. The Chinese found the Cubans attractive, started marrying and having sex, or maybe the other way around, and by 1870's there were over 40,000 Chinese in Cuba! In Habana they established "El Barrio Chino" (Chinatown) becoming the largest community of Chinese in Latin America. And to our benefit, leaving behind a rich and unique fusion of Chinese-Cuban cuisine! Not to mention the countless Cuban Chinese anecdotes, stories, and jokes that I grew up hearing in Miami. I will not attempt to tell you one of those jokes here because I will ruin it. Trying to tell a Cuban Chinese joke in English is just not going to come through in writing. It's like trying to read Cervantes in English, or Shakespeare in Spanish.
Still I haven't answered the question, what is a Cuban doing celebrating The Chinese New Year, in Texas?! Well first of all, Cubans will celebrate just about anything, anywhere. And since my Chinese food stylist Erin Quon was in town styling another job for me, she wanted to do this for the crew, how could I deny her. So, we made it into another photo shoot opportunity to share with you all. I believe we got some great images while having a great time with our family and friends. Pretty good, no? You can view the complete dinner here.
The menu included:
Asian style whole baked rock cod with sesame oil and soy and ginger.
Chinese fermented black bean and tomato Dungeness crab.
Steam pork buns.
Pork and shrimp dumplings with scallions and soy sauce.
Stir fried egg noodles with chicken shrimp and sautéed veggies.
Stir fried baby bok choy with ginger and garlic.
Braised pork belly with hoisin sauce and finely sliced scallions.
Steamed rice with lemon grass.
Dessert: coconut ice cream with black sesame short bread cookies and fresh passion fruit.
Click on image to view all the images from this session.
Lighting consisted of bouncing one daylight 1200 watt HMI lamp (like ones used in movie sets, very bright) off a white wall about 20 feet from the table/set (wall is about 20 feet wide, 10 feet tall). I chose this way of lighting for two reasons, first I new I was going to have a large set with people and needed a very soft source of light to avoid deep long shadows. Second, I wanted to have just a bit of movement as our guests served them selves and moved around, (HMI light is a continuous source of light, as different from a strobe, allowing me to capture movement). As far as lighting, that was it. No bounce cards. The light was bouncing off the main wall and spilling everywhere, ceiling and other walls in the studio.
We had one camera attached to the rafters directly above the center of the table to capture the overhead shots. My assistant Roderick JalaPeña triggered that camera remotely from the computer, while I walked around with a second camera capturing details. The shutter speed on the overhead camera was set at 0.4 second to capture the movement you see in some of the shots. ISO was at 800 at ƒ/14. On the second camera I pushed the ISO to 3200 allowing me to hand hold the camera at a faster shutter speed (1/125 second at ƒ/5.0)