Last year I was fortunate enough to be asked to take the photo for the cover of the 2011 Taste of Ulster guide (below). I was asked again to do the cover for the current 2012 guide book by Michele Shirlow of Food NI. It’s always good to get repeat business and especially nice to see your work printed on thousands of copies of a book such as the Taste of Ulster guide.
The new 2012 photo was scheduled to be shot at the James Street South restaurant in Belfast. The brief was to come up with an image that was similar in terms of layout to the previous years photo of the three chefs preparing food. This year the plan was to have Niall McKenna and a couple of local suppliers, Leona Kane from Broighter Gold and Jilly Dougan from Hannan Meats in the photo too.
John Best, Chairman of Food NI and Andrew Nethercott, Director of brand marketing from Moy Park where also there that morning and were going to be photographed with Niall McKenna and Michele Shirlow from Food NI for another photo that would appear inside the new guide book. First we started with some portrait shots of everyone. The cookery school at James Street South has a great minimalist interior with white walls and lots of daylight so for the portraits I just used two lights, one softbox and one umbrella for the background and the 80-200mm lens. The shots were all to be shot the same way which sped things up as it meant that once the lighting was sorted I could just ask the next person to stand in once I was finished photographing someone. The first image below is of John Best, Chairman of Food NI.
Leona Kane, Director of Broighter Gold (below)
The next shot we did was to photograph Niall, Michele, Andrew and John together and the idea was to get Niall making pasta with the others helping out. The cookery school has some great long stainless steel worktops and looking down the length of the room you see a big “cookery school” in stainless steel writing on the back wall which made a great angle for this shot. Niall made up a long strip of pasta in no time and soon we had John and Andrew holding it up. As before I just used two lights on this shot along with lots of ambient light coming in from the windows. There was a light with an umbrella off the rear slightly and another umbrella at the front and to the side slighty. The white walls and white ceiling along with spill from the umbrellas helped to light the room easily. The final image, which is used inside the front cover on the second page is just below.
The final shot of the morning was to create something for the front cover of the new guide book. While everyone had a quick chat and tidied up the kitchen I had a look around the place to try to find the best angle for the image. The kitchen has four long sections of stainless steel worktop and it would be along one of these that the photo would be. The Taste of Ulster guide, for those who have never seen one is a long rectangular shape roughly 21cm tall by 10cm wide. The Taste of Ulster logos and text would be place at the top of the cover so I had to bear in mind the final image that came out of the camera would need to have room to be cropped slightly to fit too. Having to fit three people into the image meant the image had to be shot in portrait format and to make it interesting they’d likely have to be in a row with the camera looking along them rather than having three people side by side looking to the camera.
After looking around and taking test shots with different lighting for about 10mins I was confident I’d found a good spot at the back of the kitchen looking along one of the stainless steel worktops towards the windows and white walls at the other end of the room. From this angle I’d definitely need more lighting as I was now in the darkest part of the kitchen at the back with no window light. I set up a speedlight with an umbrella behind the three subjects and another just off to my left mainly for fill. I also used a Bowens studio flash with a big softbox turned up fairly high to off to the right of the subjects as the key light. Of course there was a lot of light coming in from behind the subjects through the windows and I also had a large Lastolite reflector to the side of the camera to bounce some of this back. The final image that was used on the cover is below.
After the lighting was sorted out it was a case of experimenting with the props on the worktop, which was a selection of fresh local produce and experimenting with with different poses and positions for the models! The shot had to be similar to last years image in terms of layout so having the three subjects standing in a row made sense and having them using the pasta machine again made for an interesting image. It took a while to get the photo just right, we had to keep moving the pasta up or down or getting Leona or Jilly to lean in or out slightly to get the image just right. Niall, Leona and Jilly were great and all did a great job of smiling and looking like they were making pasta!
The final images for the cover and the shot of Niall, John, Andrew and Michele making pasta as they were printed in the 2012 guide book are just below.