Latest News

  • Photographing a Restaurant Before it's Built

    I often get called to photograph restaurants that are within weeks of opening or already open and need imagery for their website and other uses.  At that point the restaurants are pretty much ready to go and we're able to use their tables, kitchen, etc. for the shoot.  But, what about when the restaurant is still under construction and isn't opening for 4-5 months, but needs content to create buzz?  Such was the case with the new Fairmont Hotel opening in Austin at the end of this year.  Fairmont wanted to create imagery for 4 of the hotel's 5 restaurant concepts.  

    How do you create imagery for 4 restaurant concepts that don't even exist yet?  To start off I wanted to get a sense for the feel of each concept and got help from the branding decks supplied by Biography Design.  I also called on Houston-based prop stylist Amanda Medsger to help tie-in surfaces with plateware provided by Fairmont.  We then created a visual guide with mood board imagery and references to the options of surfaces we could use for each shot.  Some concepts were more minimalist and lighter in tone whereas others were darker and more rustic.  Amanda was able to provide a number of surface options on set to go with each shot.  

    We also spent a good amount of time finding the right space to shoot in.  The question was whether to shoot in a studio where we would start from scratch and make it look like a kitchen or rent a house. We wanted the chefs to look like they were working in a real, yet tasteful restaurant kitchen. We ended up going with the house option and found something large and open enough with simple, yet sophisticated counters and stove.  I'm really happy with how it turned out and excited to see how the restaurants look once they open!  

     

  • Story of an Heirloom Salad

    I'm a big believer in being driven by the things I'm passionate about so it was an easy decision on what I wanted to produce a motion piece about this summer, Heirloom Tomatoes!  As I usually do on shoots I asked myself how I could best tell a story about the subject.  With some inspiration from a simple and delicious heirloom tomato salad recipe from Donna Hay magazine I thought of telling the story of a home cook getting excited as she puts the salad together.  Kendra McPhee of JE Models was a great subject as she's done food marketing before and is passionate about the subject matter.  I also teamed up with food stylist Alexa Hyman, prop stylist James Whitney, and director of photography Doug Birnbaum.  We made a lot of action happen for the shoot as we showed each part of the process: the washing of tomatoes, water dripping from them, oil being poured, basil being placed, etc.

    Hopefully this piece will inspire you to go out and buy some heirlooms and make a salad of your own.  Enjoy the rest of what's left of your summer, or soon to be Indian Summer here in San Francisco!

     

  • Every Fermented Drink Known to Humankind

    It's here!  The book I photographed, "Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond" is in my hands.  This wasn't just a book about fermentation, it was about all the vast ways you can make fermented drinks, ranging from kombucha to wine you can make in prison.  We spent 4 days photographing fermented cocktails, ciders, sodas, kefir, lassis, Mexican pre-Hispanic drinks, vegetable drinks....you name it.  I didn't like Kombucha before, but now I'm definitely a big fan as a result.  I tasted whatever authors Alex Lewin and Raquel Guajardo dished out.  Speaking of, you can see author Alex Lewin speaking and promoting the book at this Saturday's Fermentation Festival in Petaluma.  

    We were blessed to have Prop Stylist Leila Nichols on the shoot, she gave us a ton of options to choose from and added her nice touch to all the shots.  Lighting-wise we made sure to keep things relatively consistent throughout to create a uniform look.  And as usual I made sure to identify as many opportunities to "bring the drinks" to life by adding some action in the form of pouring, dripping, and shaking.  You can see some of that below along with the final cover.  

    And on a personal note, I'm celebrating my birthday today!  Going to be heading up to Lake Shasta to celebrate in Sept., and working on photographing another book.  Exciting times!

  • SFO Airport Campaign

    How do you pull off six locations in a day in different terminals of one of the busiest airports in the world?  It takes preparation, patience, (especially going through security), quick decision making, and a little bit of luck.

    I was hired by the agency Fuseideas for a campaign to promote shopping and eating at SFO Airport.  It was a nice feeling to be able to photograph wherever we wanted inside the terminal areas.  Most photo shoots not associated with the airport aren't allowed to go past security, but we were given free reign since we were working with the airport directly.  However, that didn't mean we were immune to the rigors of getting through security.  Since we had a number of crew and gear with us, it took an hour and a half to make it through.  But, thankfully scouting the location twice helped make sure we were as efficient as possible.  

    We did 6 setups, but we did a vertical and a horizontal for each set up, so it was 12 final images total.  Image usage included electronic displays, signage throughout the airport, and SFO website.  We were working with a number of different aspect ratios so we adjusted the shots accordingly.  

    Prop Stylist:  Thea Chalmers
    Food Stylist:  Karen Shinto
    Digital Tech: Weber Shih
    Assistant: Garry Belinsky

  • Dominique Crenn for FSR Magazine & Marin Mag June Issue

    How cool is it that I get to watch the World's Best Female Chef rock out to music in front of my camera?! When I got the call from FSR Magazine to photograph Chef Dominique Crenn for the May 2017 cover story I was so ecstatic.  Although I had photographed her twice before I still get excited each time.  Knowing I would not have much time with her I immediately began researching ways to do the portrait and illustrate the story.  I requested to take a look at the story and noticed the writer had mentioned the importance of local farmers and produce.  I scouted her restaurant, Petit Crenn, and discovered a really nice board they use to put food on.  "I'll have her hold it with a bunch of produce on it," I thought.  So the day comes for the shoot and I present my idea to Crenn and she says, "Absolutely not."  Can't say I didn't try, but she made up for it by having so much fun on set and we mixed up the shots between being fun and a little more serious.  By coming to the table with ideas and being open to them being changed it made for a fun little adventure.  

    Besides the work for FSR please take a look at the work I did for the June issue of Marin Magazine.  Really good story titled "Recipe for Success", interviewing a number of Marin restaurants on what it takes to stay in business for more than a few years.  The answer was that it's a whole lot more than just good food.  I photographed three long-time restaurants in a photojournalistic style.

  • Setting Up For Success

    It may come as no surprise to know photography jobs take a ton of preparation.  It takes a great producer who knows the subject matter and all the right people to help get access to all the places we want to shoot. For one of my latest jobs I relied on producer Amy Silberman to help get it all done and make sure everything ran smoothly.  You'd be surprised at how many contacts Amy has around San Francisco and how much she knows about every little detail relating to pulling permits and renting spaces.  We were working with Lennar homes for their new San Francisco Shipyard project and the needs of the shoot included showing potential residents of this community living life: working, shopping, relaxing at home, etc.  Take a look at some of what we came up with and scroll down to the end where you can see some of the crew celebrating outside of our RV in the Mission District on the last day.  Also, here is a list of some of the things we juggled to make it all happen on this 3 day shoot in 10 locations around San Francisco:
    - Chartered a boat to show people commuting to downtown SF.
    - Rent a number of spaces; a restaurant, a workspace, a retail store, Tartine Manufactory.
    - Permits for photography on SF city streets.
    - Permit to photograph on the Muni platform.
    - Permit for Port Authority open space for outdoor shots.  
    - Permits and signs for parking an RV all around San Francisco.
    - Wardrobe, Prop, and Hair and Makeup.
    - Plan B in case it rained.
    - Manage 8 models and their schedules/wardrobe.
    - Catering and RV
    - Budgets, Call Sheets, and Crew Book
    Producer: Amy Silberman
    Prop and Wardrobe:  Lisa Moir, Deborah Dapolito
    Makeup and Hair: Veronica Sjoen
    Models:  Blackwell Files
    Photo Agent:  Freda Scott
  • All The Tasty Places

    San Francisco Travel Association calls on me when they want to continue building their image library to promote SF as a travel destination.  It’s such a blast because I get to shoot some of the city’s best places to indulge.  On our recent shoot we had on the list places like The Mill, 4505 Meats, La Taqueria, Plow, Samovar Tea, and Anchor Distilling.  Having lived in the city on and off for 20 years I know so many of the best things to do and places to eat around this town.

  • NanoBond Cookware

    I had the opportunity to shoot for a new cookware line rolling out called NanoBond, which was started by Stanley Cheng, the CEO of Meyer Corporation, the world’s second largest cookware company.

    We had two days to shoot 11 images. What a wonderful crew of stylists to work with, Natasha Kolenko and Erin Quon.

    It’s so important to have stylists that work well together, have a great sense of style, and who make the job much easier. It comes down to them having great taste, bringing great props to set, and having wonderful ideas for recipes and ingredients. It's as if Erin and Natasha were reading my mind and showing up on set with the perfect props and ingredients.  We had concepted and discussed the shots beforehand, but the two of them had this way of surprising you with little tricks they had up their sleeves.  

  • Great News All Around!

    Quite an eventful year this has been.  As usual, I am focused on growing and improving the way I do things and this has lead to some much welcomed developments.

    First off, I'm happy to announce I have started working with photo agent, Freda Scott.  Freda is one of the top photo agents in San Francisco and I'm thrilled to be working with her to grow my business.  She is really passionate about what she does and is helping me take things to the next level by sharing my work with her networks, helping me with estimates, and all other things related to marketing and producing shoots.  Here is an article Freda did about me on LinkedIn.

    Besides doing my day to day work, I have been busy helping a new cookware line with their launch.  But, this isn't just your average cookware line.  It is technology making a difference in people's lives around cooking.  Through the use of a sensor-enabled pan, pot, and induction burner Hestan Cue connects cookware to your smart device and controls temperature for you according to the recipe you are making.  I have been photographing 100+ delicious recipes to go with their app, which will also include step by step video recipes.  I have helped them establish their visual style and consulted on such things as props, social media, motion, and overall marketing.  And I've been able to use my "bring food to life" approach to the photography I have done for them.  Take a look below!

     

  • Bringing Food to Life

    I don't know about you, but there is so much static imagery of food out there it makes me lose my appetite.  I am always thinking to myself, "How can I as a photographer breathe new life into the food I'm photographing?  How can I help people be excited about food and drinks?"

    Part of how I do that is to go beyond the plated dish and dig deeper into the kitchen or bar and observe how food and drinks are prepped.  You'll find a lot of active things going on.   For a recent shoot at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana in SF we did just that.  General Manager Thomas Medl was tired of the same old static imagery and his direction to me was, "the idea of the photo shoot is the capturing of action/emotions into the pictures. Static shots of dishes is not what I am looking for."  I accepted his suggestion with open arms and we built a shot list that included many of the active things that go on in the kitchen.  Thanks to the team at Wagstaff Worldwide for being so great to work with!