Showcasing ‘the’ person behind the food is a great method for connecting on a personal level with your audience, followers, or prospective customers, and there can be multiple ways that one can shoot such an image and each can communicate differently. Here are some examples of different types of chef portraits:
A classic standard shot. You may be needing these types of shots for just about any purpose: to hand out for press and publications, on you own marketing collateral, to submit with recipe requests, or when entering cooking competitions or charity events. The basic idea is to put a face to the name. A photographer friend of my recently referred to these as ‘standard chef by a window, with arms crossed.’ You see them everywhere and they work to serve their purpose…to say “this is Chef So-and-So from Restaurant blah-blah-blah.”
Even though artistically, they may be uneventful, the goal should still be to create a nice image, even to hire someone professionally if need be. Don’t leave it to chance or an image that just ‘ok’ to speak to your audience. It would be beneficial to always get a standard shot for ‘safety’s sake’, light, bright, airy with a pleasant expression…then after that, if you want to experiment and push to the edges a bit, you can begin to explore unconventional lighting or other photo effects like black and white…
After you have completed your standard shot, it’s time to consider ‘other’ aspects that you may like to incorporate into your shots. By capturing the chef within a specific environment, one can begin to build a story and link images cohesively. You can use these types of shots to not only describe ‘the who’ behind the food but to also introduce some elements of design with in the restaurant, such as in a dining room or to support a specific story.
By using the same background and design elements specific to each restaurant, one can begin to build an image library that can work cohesively:
Chefs and food shot in front of same backdrop (above and below)
or use the environmental portrait to support a story…such as a Chef that uses bees to create his own supply of honey…
Personally, these types of chef shots are my favorite. I enjoy seeing behind the scenes, a chef at work, doing what they do. There is a voyeuristic appeal and personal connectivity to these types of shots, as if I, the viewer, am getting a unique showing of something special. I think others connect with these types of shots as well. There is a comfort supplied by subliminally knowing that your food is being handled in a professional manner. Also, this type of shot from a marketing perspective gives the restaurant the ability to showcase ways in which they may be different from other restaurants by highlighting their particular cuisine or showing how a special offering is prepared. When showcasing these types of shots it’s imperative that the appeal of the kitchen is up to par, cleanliness, organization, and professionalism speaks volumes, and the opposite of such can do some significant damage.
whether making sushi…or spaetzle…showcase the chef and their specialty with action shots
Whether you are highlighting an individual personality, tying in a restaurant’s environment, photographing a speciality of culinary prowess, or just showing some kitchen action, any effective image should begin with two questions: