For this case study we’re going into a more typical portrait assignment. Daniel Shumski contacted me a few months ago. He’s a food and travel writer, and the author of the fun and adventurous cookbook Will it Waffle?: 53 Irresistible and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle Iron (more on that later, including photos of something exciting we tried recently). Daniel asked for a few portraits to promote his next special cookbook.
A portrait with natural-looking light in a setting that suggests food, without being too explicit or obvious.
Process and planning:
We brainstormed locations, and after ruling out cafés, grocery stores, and kitchens, we decided to go for portraits in a market. Jean-Talon Market came out as the winner, since a quick Google Streetview walk in the Atwater Market revealed big poles between each stand that would be hard to work around. Jean-Talon Market is also much larger and has more alleys for us to shoot in (and it has a better selection of produce with lower prices!).
We created a mood board on a Google Doc and initially wanted Daniel to carry one of those paper grocery bags with some baguettes, but after seeing so many hilarious and cheesy stock photos of that, we decided to drop the idea.
Then the next thing was just to find a time to shoot when 1) the stands had fruits on them and 2) the market was not too crowded. Wednesday at 7AM it is.
This ended up being my favourite shot. I like the soft backlight. I think the subtle background, with its blurry shapes and colours, gives our brains just enough hints that the setting is a market, without explicitly screaming MARKET MARKET MARKET. You see the picture and you think Hey. This guy looks like he knows a thing or two about food. I wanna buy a cookbook from him.
- Staged photos - When you stage a shot, the BIGGEST challenge in my opinion is to not make it look staged. For my Montreal Artists, I ask all of them to actually DO work. I tell them beforehand to make sure they have something to work on. If they “pretend draw”, it’ll look stiff. I get my best results by letting them draw, looking and waiting and capturing the moments where the movement looks fluid. In Daniel’s case, I told him to actually walk through the aisles, go up to the stands, pick out some fruits, and so when I’d say “Now look up to the camera”, he just needed to turn his head towards the camera and his body would already look natural.
- Photos in public - I’m always aware of people around us when photographing my subjects in public. Of course, I don’t want to include people in the background of my shots that shouldn’t be there, but more importantly, it can be extremely distracting for subjects to be photographed in front of others. People passing by will naturally be curious and will stare. Even when they’re not IN the shot, I’ll wait for them to walk past us before lifting my camera up. So bottom line: make sure privacy is one of the considerations when choosing locations and time of shooting, and be aware of the people around you and your subject when you're taking portraits in public.
OK check this out. Claudia and I wanted to try something fun from Will it Waffle? and we went for Waffled Onion Rings :O ! Of course in a waffle iron, the result won’t look like a typical onion ring, but this recipe kept the essence of onion rings with the same delicious taste and crunch.
The result was delicious waffled onion rings (this piece was part of a giant ring) with a little spicy mayo dip we made. (The next recipe we'll tackle will be the Waffled Hashbrowns with Rosemary.) If you want to try it out these fun adventurous recipes yourself (or order it for someone - Will it Waffle? + a waffle iron does sound like a great gift idea), check out the link here. I'm looking forward to whatever Daniel is cooking up next!
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