Shoot 2: Grilled Lamb Kebobs with Citrus Salad
Okay cool, welcome back. We're going to our second set which is a lamb kebab, kind of a food, it's not gonna hit the plate photograph. So we're not putting it on a plate, we're just gonna reinterpret it in a different way to give it a little more energy. But before we start that set I wanted to bring Kalleo in and talk a little bit about how he sources props and ways for you guys to think about how to source props beyond raiding your grandparents house. So can we physically look at the props with him and just talk about where he got them? For just a minute.
So this is the prop table, this isn't a collection of my own personal stuff. A lot of stuff from second hand stores which I probably shouldn't mention by name, I'm guessing. And a lot came from Anne, our stylist, as well. I mean I happen to be a bit of a food nerd, so you know, I collect things like this, like as I was mentioning, I thought I mentioned these bowls are something that's just been in my family for a while. We were ta...
lking about using this pan, and it just happens to be my everyday egg pan and as I did mention before, a lot of times the really great props tend to be the ones that have a use in your life and so you can make a practical leap. But you know, when I'm shopping I'm looking for, like on this assignment working with you the direction was we want it to be gritty, we want it to be messy, we want it to feel kind of authentic, so I was looking for textures. The color palette, I think we want the food to speak so we keep the colors to mostly neutrals, but every once in a while you need a little color pop.
Can you talk about, where did you get that whole like wooden, he's got this awesome basket full of these wooden plates.
That collection is Anne's.
That's pretty wonderful
This is Anne, our food stylist
can we pull that out?
Yeah, and I'm guessing, if I may speak for Anne
this is stuff that is old and lives in her house and she uses and loves and cherishes. I mean these are just gorgeous. And these are available in second hand stores and antique shops and stuff. I think it helps to be passionate about particular materials, like Anne I happen to be passionate about wood products so I tend to look for things like that myself, cast iron, you know, if you like linens you'll probably be gravitated towards those finds.
So do you have a prop closet at your house, or a warehouse or anything?
A little bit of both, I'm just now starting to rent space with another art director, so we're establishing more of a prop warehouse, but a lot of this stuff lives in my house. And it's a little bit of both.
Can you talk for a minute about surfaces, because we like to vary our surfaces a lot. So can you talk about the table you made
and how you kinda got to that stage.
So, I don't know can I wheel this out John?
Maybe not much, you can bring the camera round.
So this table, we liked. What's underneath all these props we liked this a lot, you can see it's pretty simple. I mean they're wood planks and they're screwed together, nailed together and put on castors. We decided that it's too big for our purposes for a farm dinner
farm table dinner tomorrow.
So we wanted to make something a little more contained so I created this table, which if I could show you underneath it's just lumber, just two by 10 material that I got from any big box lumber yard and I took a plane and I whittled down the edges and I took a hammer and I, you know, beat the heck out of it.
He's got his initials in here.
I carved my initials in it.
A little artistic signature.
I stained a little cup rings in there
cup ring stain.
Just thinking about what would happen at this table.
he's crusting it up. This is nice too.
And I used latex paint with a lot of water and washed it in, 'cause I didn't wanna take the time to wait for oils to dry. And then I just sealed it with a water based sealer. It honestly did not take me that long
and how much did this surface cost you to make, roughly?
These boards are probably six bucks a piece so 25, I mean we're talking $50 worth of materials there, at the most. So, and this is another one of Anne's historic bowls, this has been in her family for a long time. And again, it's like that personal sort of touch that oftentimes tends to make the shot better.
Do you go to a lot of garage sales?
I try to when I can. Thrift stores, garage sales, you know I got that email from you, avoid the big box stores, but I will say this I got this from a big box store that was all solid white and I just hit it with paint, I knocked it with a hammer a couple of times and made my own custom shabby chic if you will.
Very cool, how much did you spend on that?
This is a $19 pitcher,
That's a great idea,
metal pitcher. Same with these guys, these are actual glass and I antiqued them using spray paint and sand paper. So it's a little crafty but sometimes--
It's tots Martha.
(laughs) Tots Martha, exactly.
Okay cool, all right so we're going to our second set and Karen when you're ready can we start talking about surface
be right over.
and how we're gonna prop it. So Karen and I thought that we should stay with the same black surface because it's kinda within the same story. And that black surface is just beautiful.
And it will also pick up the tones of the kebab which will be charred in some parts. So I think we should break the kebab, we wanna break the kebab from the black surface so we need to introduce some sort of alternate, extra surface so either parchment paper, or...
Let me bring a couple over
Do we have any kind of off white parchment?
Yeah, I think.
Let's do them all, so we got four kebabs, three kebabs and we're just gonna leave them on the skewers and put them in the set with this citrus salad that Karen and Anne are currently making. So that what we're looking for is an element that breaks up, because the kebabs are kind of a darker black brown once they're charred, and the surface is black so we need to introduce something else that breaks those two tones being so similar. So we're gonna introduce some color or tonal difference. That's cool
yeah, I think this stuff is gonna work, it's just handmade paper.
Oh, Karen's coming with the kebabs right now so,
This is too similar in color.
Would you be opposed to doing something like you know, we're staying on wood I saw this yesterday and I thought that was kinda cool so like this see, it's got these marks?
Yeah that's awesome.
That way we separate it
that would be really nice
On maybe, if there's something white.
You know something like this stuff.
You can just try that and see what it looks like.
Might be too similar in color though, huh? I mean this, I dunno I just like this but.
Well, let's try it with that and then...
Is there a white, or a white plate maybe.
White plate, sure.
What about, oh there you go, that's nice, this one.
I like this guy. That could be cool too, that could be kinda nice I dunno, what d'you think?
Are we putting some juice on it?
I'm gonna sprinkle some, I gotta brush it with olive oil and then sprinkle some chopped parsley on in and then we'll have the citrus salad which could go in a separate bowl maybe?
So the citrus salad to me should be cut half frame, yeah.
We could also, that could be nice too.
Let's put it on set, we'll just pull these things. And can we pull some parchment too just start looking at it.
So we've got the white parchment and then these papers. I could not find any tan parchment yesterday, at the end of my day. I also have wax paper, too
What are you thinking about when you're trying to create the feel for this? You're thinking lamb kebab, I mean what are you--
My focus is the lamb kebab, secondary is the salad and the salad is just gonna introduce some color 'cause it's really bright. It's basically that first shot but in a bowl. Yeah, I like that, I like that a lot. So I'm focusing on the kebab and I want to have energy in the shot and I need some color. So I got color in the salad but then we also need some other surface to break up the tones 'cause it's a lot of, look these two tones match so much so I need to break that up somehow and this brown could be enough if we sauce it up some. And it might not be, so we have to just play with it. Does that answer your question?
Yeah but, you know, a lot of times when I look at your pictures they have a certain feeling to me, like this feels solemn, or this feels excited. I mean, how do you bring in--
How do I make that?
So for me, that's splashes and spills and making things kinda uneven. Like maybe pulling some of the pieces of meat off and hopefully we'll get to do that.
Okay, that's great
Can I step back a second to props?
Take away your prop stylist and travel to Honduras to a remote village, do you just cross your fingers that it's gonna work?
That's a good question. So what I did in Honduras is I literally went into the women's, when I could, you had to be appropriate. But I raided their house, basically, I went through their cupboards and pantries and I pulled what I could. There wasn't a lot of variation. They had wood burning stoves, they were doing fire pit cooking so I used a lot of that surface to put stuff on. They use these big baskets to throw up, when they shred coconut and kind of sift it, they use these huge baskets so I used that as a surface. So I'm just kinda grabbing whatever I can, maybe palm leaves, maybe. I'm just trying to be really resourceful but I don't fly with props. And so I have to pull what I can from whatever resources I can find.
I'm always looking for textures and a lot of times those textures are the floor. Yeah, I'm just like pulling them outta nowhere sometimes. The cool thing about when you travel and you go to other places, styles are completely different because cultures have different influences and you have to honor that. And that puts a lot of sense of place in a photograph, especially a food photography and so that almost does it for you, you know? So if it feels a little off and different because it's not my particular style or essence of how I would do something, that's great, you know? It should feel like being in that country.
Built in authenticity?
Yeah, exactly, exactly.
Okay, now I gotta make this picture, huh?
I've got a question from the internet.
Let's do it.
Okay, Sarah M. Kemp would like to know, do you find there are any diva foods that are difficult to photograph and also, for the last couple days they'd like to know, do you have a single favorite food to photograph.
Oh my god, I don't know about diva foods. I'm not sure what that means. Like diva as in decadent or, what does that mean? Can you ask her what she means?
High maintenance foods, so the food itself is difficult?
Meat is difficult. Anything that doesn't have a lot of color is difficult, it's 'cause you're having to introduce color into it and bring it, let it have some energy. Karen, you might wanna chime in. D'you feel like there's something that's really difficult to photograph food wise?
I mean meat can be difficult but for me, I don't think so, I think it's really beautiful I think it's all how it's lit and also the surface that it's sitting on and just making it look appetizing so it doesn't look dry. So it just looks appealing and fresh and just moist, moisture is a key factor to a lot of food, like salads, and meats and anything, you want it to look nice and fresh, and glossy or whatever, and juicy. But I don't know if there's anything in particular that's super difficult.
Yeah it just all depends on how it's lit and how it's presented, I guess that's the thing.
I don't know that any of it's really difficult. I mean you have your challenges but you work through it and you hopefully try to get it and maybe you have to see it in a different stage and it won't be as difficult, you know. What was the other question?
What your favorite thing to shoot is? Whether it's a food from a certain country or...
I don't know that I have a favorite. I don't know.
No worries, another question from CP Photo do you ever feel that something is just not working and do you ever start over and just scrap it. I mean does that happen very often?
I can't scrap it as in like throw it out and I don't wanna shoot it, I can't do that. I always have to make it work because it's usually something that, it's like on a shot list. In food, in this instance, so I've gotta make it work. So I'll scrap it in the sense that we'll start all over with the food and just come at it from a fresh idea completely.
I guess that's what I meant, do you start over with the same foods but just--
Yeah, reinterpret it, yeah totally, absolutely. I do that a lot.
I happens a lot, okay, good to know.
And we kinda did that on that last set, I wasn't really happy with it, but the ironic thing is my favorite shot is one of the first ones. Sometimes you don't see the pictures right away but you should work the situation. I think that's the same for any photographic situation. You should be exploring that whether it's food or not, whether it's a person, whether you're on location or anything.
And speaking of your shot list, there was a question earlier about how much time you'll spend on that and pre-visualization and how much time you spend meeting with your stylist before you come to the shoot.
We spend a lot, Karen and I talked for a while. Karen and I had one Skype phone call, I spent at least a day kind of going through ideas about what I wanted to shoot for this workshop then I sent those ideas to Karen and then we Skyped and had a conversation and showed each other pictures that we liked, and were like yeah that's cool, maybe we should do something like that. So we probably spend four or five hours maybe a little longer. And then after that we had a couple more emails and then we actually in the mix of that we had Kalleo in there too because we needed him to understand what we were thinking in terms of tone and color palette, what we wanted to shoot. So there was actually a lot of phone calls and discussion. Probably, Karen and I, we started what talking like a month ago? Three weeks
yeah, yeah a while ago. And we just kept, we started with some ideas and then we bounced ideas and sent each other images and said, oh yeah we like this about that and narrowed the choices down so we came up with five or six ideas that would work. Then we sort of collaborated on that so we had something that would work in the situation that would be beautiful that we could easily set up and shoot, so that's how it came about. But it usually starts with like this ton of stuff and you go from A and then you kind of end up with Z at some point, sometimes it never ends up being originally what you thought you were gonna shoot. But yeah, it's great to collaborate and get all on the same page and be able to do it that way.
I am so glad that we are not using that white plate because that looks so much better.
Yeah it's pretty, huh?
That's really pretty
do you like this?
okay so let's keep with this then.
That is gorgeous,
I can just flesh this out a little bit
So here's what's really cool about, where am I, here's what's really cool about shooting food is that if you've got a beautiful subject, in this case these kebabs, that's why we chose it 'cause it was like beautiful. And it's super graphic, and it's easy when it's like that. So we talked about this yesterday, if you can choose your subjects, in this case we could, give yourself a break and choose something beautiful choose something really graphic. This is gonna have a lot of life in it because of what we chose. It's skewered lamb meat, I mean you're gonna see this shot and be pretty, I'm excited about it right now and it's just the beginning and I don't want to jinx it and say anymore but I feel good about it, already. And when a shot starts out like this, that's great. So this camera above me is seeing the set right, Celeste? This one right here? Yeah, cool. So they're seeing her build this set? Awesome, that's great, that's exciting. I'm sure it looks cool then, huh?
And I don't wanna block that so you'll tell me
Yeah. You can cut through the shot, that's okay.
All right cool, okay cool, you guys know what you're doing. That looks so great Karen, cool.
Try not to do the mickey mouse ears.
I'm just gonna get a test shot.
Camera turned on?
Penny I have a question for Karen.
Yeah, yeah, please.
You mention food looking dry being a challenge, what are some of the techniques that you use because these kebabs you guys cooked like, I don't know, 10, 15 minutes ago, and now you're gonna shoot them and they're not straight hot out of--
Yeah, I mean those could've been cooked yesterday going on the table, they can hang out for hours. Certain foods can sustain when you oil it. But a lot of times you cook meat and then it doesn't have a long life, you have to pretty much shoot within maybe like 10 minutes or so. But this kind of stuff that's cooked and it's just browned beautifully, you can just hang in there, just keep re-oiling it and it'll just be fine, yeah, it's not a problem.
You know what's also really cool in this shot is her orange plate, you can see it on the camera above us, but you see that orange tray that she's propping from? That is another photograph in itself. If you took out the brush and put a knife there or something, you know, played with it a little bit but that's another photograph for sure.
I have on like that on my website.
Oh you do?
'cause they saw that and they just shot it.
Yeah, that's great.
It's my opening page, yeah.
Penny are there any foods that you try to get rid of the shine, the matte, or the shine to. Like earlier you were saying on a cutting board that you'd oil it, is it, do you try to get different textures and different shines on food for a picture?
Like a mixture or do you like, I mean...
I just think you always try to brighten it up especially on a brown food, you know you wanna shine it up a little bit. Don't you think Karen?
Are there foods that you try to take the shine out of?
Yeah you don't want something to look oily 'cause then it just doesn't look appealing. Yeah it just, I don't know, or lights hitting something oddly you wanna try to matte it down a little bit. But it just depends on the situation.
It's looking really good, okay I'm gonna do a test shot real quick. Just so we can talk about it. This just looks great, I love those skewers. Can you pull out your
Gonna get rid of this stuff. Think I'll have to wash that.
Okay, John I want you to look at that I gotta punch in a little bit of light on the meat. Can you turn it? And are we seeing it on the big monitor, cool.
So I just gotta pop in a little bit of light on that meat. On the left hand side.
I can do something to oil it, I was gonna sprinkle it with, garnish it with chopped parsley,
just sprinkle it on really fast.
Maybe I should shoot tighter and get it
Alright, shoot a little tighter
Can you see it on here, maybe.
Yeah, you can crop this out.
Cropping that, cropping this.
That left half side,
Cropping this out to give it some more tension?
So then we're looking at this. Can you see me moving this mouse Karen?
Yeah, but I love the wax paper though I think that this is really beautiful, all this stuff looks great.
Yeah, no I like that too. So let me go tighter.
Can you move the plate for me Karen.
Just down set. By a couple feet, not a couple feet, a couple inches.
How about there?
little bit more, yeah. I got some photo crack.
Did you say photo crack?
Okay, here we go.
Yeah you know what, the paper, maybe if we tear it and have two pieces, I don't know.
No, no, no.
I like this one, I can't go backwards once I do that. (camera shutter clicking)
No but it's --
I like this tension right here. This is
Yeah, no that's nice. It's this edge for me, Karen. It's that curve.
Oh I love that.
You do, okay.
Yeah. I think it's awesome. Is it, what's wrong is the light weird? Is it too much?
No it's just, I love this. I love that and I almost want it to, but you're right it would look funny to have it twice.
It's cool how it's
No I think it's nice.
So we'll sauce it a little bit.
I'm going to oil it
Then we will have to go pretty fast after it's sauced.
No it's fine, it'll hang in.
It'll hang in, okay
For a couple minutes.
But then I was gonna just throw some chopped parsley.
I'm gonna put a little drizzle of olive oil here.
And I'm actually gonna go tighter too.
Okay, and the parsley will kind of break out over here too, so it won't be so clean.
John, I'm gonna bounce a little bit on this left side, on the meat.
White or silver?
Let's look at the silver just to see, it might be too hot, but we'll do just white and just a little bit I only wanna do just if we can get it to just go on the meat and not the white, the parchment. So John is gonna put a fill in there 'cause I want the meat to pop a little bit more. Karen's gonna add some juice to it so that'll give it some life but maybe the white will also give it a little bit of pop. You seeing that? Yeah, yeah, that's nice.
Is that in your frame?
No that's not, can you pull it away? Go again, yeah. You see that? Can you show them that shot? Okay John, take it away. Okay it's super subtle so watch. Did you see it brighten up just slightly? Do it again, do you guys see that?
Can you do a white one just so they see it again. Okay, pull it away. Okay, that is available light at its best. It's the nuances and it's adding subtleties just to give it a little bit of life. And that's what we're gonna do in this case.
If you're alone in the field you'll just have a little stand.
Yeah, or I have somebody hold it.
I love this goofy bottle, I just had orange.
It might be too much.
But I'll drink that, no I'm just kidding. (laughing) that looks like a nice one. Nice.
No I don't drink sodas, so.
We have a question from the internet.
Anytime do the stylist, or yourself, use food coloring or things to color the food?
You have to.
I'm gonna default to them, I know how I feel, but I'm gonna default to Karen and Anne.
Oh you, go ahead, yeah
I can't sorry.
Oh well, yeah, I mean on occasion if you have to enhance color, you do have to.
So wait you do punch in color, you do add color?
Yeah, I mean, a really common thing too is if the meat, let's say, wasn't brown enough and they wanted it a darker color or to brown the edges sometimes you just take a little, like a kitchen bouquet or a browning agent, and you sort of brush it on subtly. I mean not like it's painted, but you can sort of darken things subtly to give it a little color. But yeah, dyes are a little bit trickier, food colorings but sometimes you have to use them. But it just depends on the situation, but normally if we're shooting editorial or things that are just naturally beautiful, it's not really necessary to do that 'cause the photographer's great at lighting it and you might just enhance things a little bit but nothing should be wildly you know, you don't have to bring out your food coloring kit for that, normally, so.
Yeah no that was good, that's right. So we're blocking the light again because he's gonna block the light on the right side of the parchment paper because it's a little hot for us. So I wanna make sure they see that. So he's blocking that light with that black card, can you, you got that? Okay, pull it out so they can see that again. I don't know if they'll be able to see that exactly, try it again, there you go. It's just muting it subtly. I don't want your eye to get pulled away from anything else but that center focus which is the kebab. So let me do a test there. Okay, this is just a test, this isn't a final. (camera shutter clicks) I'm gonna even it up. (camera shutter clicks) you know what, John it's almost like I'm too high. Can we, I'm gonna move the whole set down to this section here. Can you help me kalleo?
Let's pull this plate down here, keep going, right about there, yeah. And let's level it a little bit, cool.
We can, of course ample up the table too if you wanna get closer.
Oh okay. Can you pull that out John, and just let me see what it's doing and how it's doing it, okay go back, yeah, I'm barely seeing it.
You may wanna come around a little more from that side to catch the light.
Yeah, you might have to come. D'you have anything brighter?
Yeah there's a, I'll show you.
So that card's almost too muted, this silver. I want it a little shinier so that it gives it a little bit more punch. So he's gonna switch that out. Are you having fun? (group laughs)
Penny I have a question for you, so one thing I noticed Penny, is that you spend a really long time looking down at your shot and you're not taking very many pictures. Like, for instance, if it were me taking this picture I'd have a hundred pictures of it and they all look exactly the same.
It's a little different you know.
But I was wondering, 'cause you said you would take a lot of pictures in the field as opposed to say here.
And normally I would shoot the hell out of this, but I've got this big thing right here, I can't really work around it as much and a lot of it feels oriented above for me. This to me, is a no brainer that it's an overhead shot. And you're right. But this is, I guess, I think I said this yesterday I put down the documentary camera and I pick up the food camera, so to speak. So I hope that I'm still exploring, but it's a little different this time. I don't shoot as much, for sure, but I also feel a little constricted and confined here. It might have a lot to do with this ladder and just being in such a tight space, and all of you (laughs) and I'm also on a time constraint, too. We have to stay on our schedule so.
Penny, also I actually find it really inspiring that you're looking for such a long time because, you know, same thing with me, I'll take a lot of pictures but I'm not really looking at the whole scene so I love the fact that you're doing that, it's inspiring me.
Yeah I thought the same thing, to be really sort of contemplative before you pull the trigger on the shot, and I think that's something that all of us maybe need to do more of. I think to be thinking more and to be in the photo more just like Larry was saying yesterday to be really present and to be very reflective on what you're shooting.
I worked with this one food stylist with this other project I did and she wrote me an email later about how she, basically, how she knew I was just walking around the set quietly just looking at the food and not shooting. And I guess that's what I do, I've never had anybody tell me that before. I feel like I'm thinking about it differently than I would in any other setting because it's not a moving object, it's sitting in one place, everything we're deciding, these are contemplated decisions so in my mind I'm just trying to think does this look good enough? Is it there, how much more should we push it, so yeah. Okay. You know what I gotta move this, that way. Or the table out.
The table is easier than one of the windows.
Yep, just a little bit, just like six inches. Yeah, cool. Yeah I'm ready
Okay, all right.
Hey John, that black card needs to be moved, just gonna cut that light a little bit. Just this edge this is all we're cutting right here but I think you're blocking the rest of that, yeah. So just right there, yeah, try that. And can you take this out for me. Okay, I'm ready to go to film when you are Karen. Do you think we need to see anymore of the black in there? Like on set, I'm sorry.
Maybe a little bit yeah. 'cause you can always crop in
Yeah, okay. Yeah that looks really nice. Is that big monitor not working for you guys?
The big one's not on, they're pitching it on this one.
Oh okay, so the big one isn't.
It looks great.
Penny can I ask a question?
From Clary@lucid, how does your back cope with being bent over shooting for most of the day?
It's not great.
It affects it big time
It's not great.
Ask for a masseuse more
Yeah, [John] They can't hear me, ask for a masseuse.
No it's not great, I don't know how to answer that.
If it's like 10 days in a row, or a shoot that's four days in a row
Well yeah, at the end of a five day shoot, I'm exhausted, my back hurts. This is not a normal ladder for me, obviously. This isn't the ladder I travel with, so whatever that means. That looks great, wow.
What is Karen doing?
She is overhead juicing up the meat with a brush, it's really nice. I love seeing those flakes on the meat.
Yeah and also, I'm just gonna let these on the side
Yeah, just the oil?
But the olive oil is green, if you're doing something where the green would show I'd just use a regular canola or vegetable oil.
Yeah, beautiful, done! That's it, I mean this is like a no brainer. When it looks this good, it's that easy. And this just looks really beautiful Karen, beautiful.
Thank you, okay, you're good. Want me to hold something?
No. Ready guys?
God that looks so good. (audience chattering)
Can I do something real quick
I just wanna do a little separation.
It's a little hot on that side
Oh shoot, yeah that is, sorry.
Hang on a second
Yeah go for it. Yeah that's it
Here we go, going to film. (camera shutter clicking)
Yeah that's it
It's pretty hot, I don't like that I need to level it, but, that's really pretty.
I'm wondering Karen I don't know, that's nice
I think it's beautiful.
Okay, anything else, hang on.
Can we, I'm wondering just in this top corner where all the chives are or the greens
Parsley, I don't know do you feel like that could do with just something there, I don't know if it needs it. What would you do, would we do maybe a little drop of oil there or something, I don't know.
Let me see
just to push it a little bit, we gotta wrap this one.
Yeah I know. Let's see, wanna try oil?
We'll just play for a minute and then we'll move to the next set. John, let me know when I'm level on this would you? (camera shutter clicking)
Sorry, let me grab some more chili, excuse me.
Yeah that's great. Yeah, I love the chili, that's fantastic. Okay, here we go.
Give me one second
Yeah, okay. (camera shutter clicking)
Okay, the red is awesome on there.
Oh that's great, is it sharp?
I can't tell with this monitor.
Is it sharp, this monitor seems weird to me.
Can we go, can you judge sharpness on this monitor?
I don't know.
D'you wanna lay my eyes on the back, camera back?
What d'you guys think? Do you like it?
It feels off but.
Absolutely loving it
Cool. So I think this is a done shot. It was that easy because Karen made beautiful food, that's like the best of the best, Karen and Anne. So that's our hero, I feel good about that. I'm getting movement from the camera guy a little bit, just let me know, I wanna get a final on it.
Just one more
Yeah. I like it though. 'cause I'm not shooting super fast.
1/60th of a second.
Okay. (camera shutting clicking) Cool, if that's not it, done.
Beautiful, beautiful picture.
I'm hungry. (audience laughs)
It was amazing to watch you guys build that.
Good job Karen. We're done.
I'd like to keep trucking through to lunch. They have about maybe 15 more minutes on the grits, maybe get some Q and As and start setting up the next shot.
Okay, Q and A.
You guys okay?
All right, yeah, let's ask Penny some questions.
So Penny you take a lot of shots of the same scene, what's your thought process and your choices as far as...
You know I took a lot of shots on that last one, because I had camera movement from the camera guy and so I just wanted to make sure I didn't get any extra vibrations. Although I love that he's there because I think that that's a fun angle. So that's why I did that, and then, you know, I'm up there just to make sure, there might be one or two that might be shaky because that ladder is a little wobbly and I'm in a weird position so. That's why I'm kind of shooting more than one frame.
And Penny because of all the different colors in food do you use a color checker? Are you concerned with having accurate colors of food?
You know what, I trust my camera meter and I'm shooting raw files so I can adjust whatever I need to but my camera is pretty dead on and I know the way that I'm exposing it so I feel pretty good about what I'm getting, so no I don't, I don't. I try to keep it as simple as possible. That's probably not a bad idea, but I don't do that.
And I know we talked about it yesterday but could you talk a little bit more about what I'm seeing as your signature angle which is--
The overhead? I'm gonna beat myself up about that one. I'm probably not gonna, well after today, I'm probably not gonna ever shoot another overhead. After Sunday. You know, it's graphic. Food is really graphic and so why not? I don't feel like you should force the angle if the food doesn't lend itself to that. Sure you could have shot it at three quarter but I don't think it would have been the same, I don't think it would have been as energetic and I just felt it looked really good from that angle. Maybe on the next two, what are we doing next? Mussels, bacon and grits.
Well the mussels we can do
Maybe the mussels will be
Maybe the mussels could be three quarter, now I'm feeling like I have to.
What's interesting though, an observation, is that when you shoot from overhead it seems like there's a lot of geometry that comes into play like you see sort of shapes
It more feels like a design
Yeah it's super graphic
Like you see circles, and you see lines
rectangles that's true
and I don't think you should give it up, I'm just sharing.
Well you know, I think, you're a chef I love that. And I think it's important to be open I mean I'm always trying to grow and you guys are all photographers and it's good, it's like you're giving me feedback. You're kinda like the client and these are all things, yeah I guess I could be open to all those things. I just know what I respond to and those are the instincts that I've kinda built every photograph I make on. So that's what I'm honoring. So you know, I trust Karen, I trust Kalleo, I trust Anne. So I've got four sets of eyes and we're all looking at the same picture and if we're all going, yeah, then we're there, you know. How about another question.
Another question from Mezzim in the chat room, people had asked yesterday a lot about cropping and keeping some space for copy. When you're shooting are you thinking about having that at all?
You know, if I get called to New York for a food shoot and it's for the magazine oftentimes I have to shoot really loose for that reason so yeah, but when I'm in the field, not necessarily. However for covers I do. So if I'm shooting something and I feel like, oh my god, this is so strong. And I know I'm shooting a feature story, yeah I'll shoot it loose, for maybe it's a cover. You always have to shoot covers a lot looser. So yeah that's a really good point, I will do that if I feel like that photograph lends itself to potentially being a cover, for sure.
From Karen, she asks, and a lot of people have about your metering methods and you don't use a spot meter or you know a hand held.
Yeah, no, I mean that camera's awesome. The meter is great and I'm exposing the way I want it to look so I trust my meters. That's a great camera so yeah, no. I don't need another tool, it's one more thing for me to carry, I don't need it. I felt like now I'm shooting studio food I should really have a spot meter and then I realized it still looks great from my meter on my camera. I've tested it, it still looks really good. It's like, you know, I'm shooting in raw if there's a little, but I'm so close exposure wise if not there that it's like why complicate it more. That's just like I don't need those toys it's all about seeing and that's what the process is for me it's about seeing. So I don't wanna be clumsied up or crowded by these other kind of accessories, I don't need it. I trust my camera, I trust my instincts, I trust the people I'm working with and we just make pictures, that's what we do. That's at the heart of what it is about for me.
That's great, and a short addendum. Spot or center weighted, they had asked.
I think I'm on center weighted.
Hey Penny, maybe you talked about this yesterday but your shots are almost all vertically inclined, is there a reason why?
Yeah we did talk about this
Oh forget about it
This has been a big discussion I feel like food really orientates itself vertically because I want it to fill the frame whereas horizontally with people and environment you can fill the frame better. But a lot of times food doesn't, to get a horizontal shot you have to get really close so that it fills the frame or the elements all fill the frame. So for me, it works better vertically. However, also with my end product, it's magazines or books. The way those orientate, it's a vertical shot. Unless they run it double truck which is across two pages and across the well then you're gonna shoot it horizontally. But you never really know that until they're in layout.
Another question from Greenfuse Photo, if you don't choose the stylist and you have major creative differences what do you do?
Like Karen and I?
No (audience laughs)
If you haven't noticed, no, I mean that with love. What was the question, I'm sorry.
I'm saying when they style the food and you have major creative differences how do you deal with that?
Well hopefully I'm working with a stylist that I like and we have a rapport already and I can tell when we're on the phone before we've even got to the part where I'm like are you available for this shoot, it's more like we have a talk about what their aesthetic is, I look at their website and I'm thinking about how I'm reacting to the work they've produced already. So based on that, I'll decide if I wanna work with them. And then beyond that when we're talking, I can tell just over the phone if they're gonna be someone that's open, agreeable, has ideas but also has a collaborative personality. I'm obviously not gonna work with someone who's like pretty blunt and harsh. I mean I really see it as a collaboration, we're making these pictures together.
So it's never just dropped on you.
It hasn't been yet.
Okay, that's good to know, all right thanks.
I'm sure that'll happen, I hope it doesn't though. Man that bacon smells amazing, oh my god. (audience laughing) Okay, d'you guys have any questions?
I have a question
I feel like when I'm doing a shot like what you were just doing, I spend a lot of time on one shot, like I can spend up to three hours on just one shot before I'm happy with it. On average about long, if you're doing studio shots for a cookbook, on average how long does it take you until you're happy with the shot.
You know, on a cookbook we could be shooting eight shots in a day, six shots in a day an eight hour day, that's not a lot of time in there. You wanna eat, you're prepping, you're getting everything ready so you're going fast. So less than an hour.
That's pretty fast.
It's fast, I mean that's if, sometimes you don't have a budget, they can't hire you for as many days as you want but they've hired you and they want this many shots so you figure it out. Either the client cuts shots or they hire you for another day or you, there's some fudge room in there and you can figure some compromise but yeah, you've gotta plow through it. I couldn't spend three hours on a shot, that's too much, something's not right if you're spending that much time
Well not every shot
But there are times.
You're second guessing yourself though.
And I'm also by myself.
Well, I mean that's a really good point, I mean, who's to say if you get your work to a certain level you couldn't propose to a stylist, a prop stylist, hey let's do some test shooting. Karen and I have done some test shooting in San Francisco and we just schedule out two or three days in a week and we'll just shoot food that we wanted to photograph that we want for our own portfolios.
Put it on the portfolio, good idea.
That's actually, you all should be test shooting, why not? That's a really good exercise.
Can I ask a technical question?
Yeah. (people laughing)
You were saying you just choose the auto white balance but do you boost saturation or anything like that or just standard out of the camera.
On the camera or on the monitor
on the camera.
I'll over expose sometimes, sure, absolutely. I mean I meter, I know where the camera meter is centered and I've got a nice exposure but that's not necessarily how I want the photograph to be made, I just know where the camera says, here's where your perfect exposure is. So if I want it blown out, I'll adjust accordingly. Does that make sense?
And I do that for people and I do that for scenes, everything. So for me the meter is the starting point and you know, 'cause some food, like that Manresa photo shoot that I did, I overexposed that. I wanted those whites to blow out so the food would just be the star.
And then in like menu there's vivid, neutral, standard, do you just stick with standard, do you know what I mean?
We're shooting raw here so it doesn't affect the file. Those settings like vivid or neutral
Okay, gotcha, like that'll just affect what it looks like on the camera.
Get in there, get in there.
Thanks, I like water. (people laughing)
I think this might be my fourth one, they say it's really good to drink water. (laughs) (group chattering) I like air too, yeah (laughs).