Cooking and photography

Today I volunteered to take photos for an organization run by my friend called charitable chef. It was at a home up in LA, the family donated 5k to helping homeless children obtain shelter, education, and medical relief, etc. What they get is a chef to come to their residence and cook them a meal. I guess where I come in would be to help the organization get pics for their website. I’d volunteer to cook, but I don’t think people want to pay a lot of money to get cup o’ noodles or boiled eggs, so I’ll stick to what I do best (or try to do best), which is take pictures.


What’s interesting, is I’ve watched cooking shows on TV, and of course I’ve witnessed my mom and my wife cook at home. But it’s casual cooking. I’ve never experienced first hand how a life in a real working kitchen is like. I find that it is surprisingly similar to a photographer’s working environment (Under the stipulation that you are a traveling chef and have to do these sorts of things at other people’s homes, not just in your controlled kitchen environment).


They’re standing up all day, trying to work under time constraints and pressure, all while trying to make their food look and taste good. To top that off, they’re restricted to the kitchen environment that they are in. If the stove or broiler can’t get hot enough? If they run out of ingredients and are scrambling to find sugar in the household? The main chef has to made alternative decisions based on a constantly changing work environment, and asking the assistant/secondary chef to take care of this and that. Barking orders, managing time, and just trying to get the job done. That’s pretty much how photography works.


We can’t choose the environment we are called to work in. Some days, it’s a well lit, beautiful location, while other times, it’s dark and the the weather is very cloudy, and it just isn’t ideal for shooting. But generally on the field, I have a certain look I try to achieve, I try to get my assistant/second to achieve those shots. And usually if they work with me long enough, they know what I want ahead of time (Which is why as in any profession, having competent, trustworthy team members is key to any organization) You have to trust them, and they have to trust you.

The kitchen has a hierarchy:

  • main chef (main photographer),
  • sous-chef — second in command– (second photography)
  • the food preppers and/or dishwashers (light holders and equipment carriers)
  • on occasion, you get the super overseer chef that determines the menu items for the day. I suppose that can be analogous to a creative director in photography land.

But I’ve never really worked with a creative directory, usually as the main photographer, you have to play the that role. Though I would love the opportunity to work with one. I think it will better hone my skills. Sometimes you’re just so busy trying to nail the technical aspects of it down and not screw up the shot, you forget the little details within the shot. And as the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details”.


But it was fun, just to hang around and observe the process. I had the easy job, all I did was take a few pictures!



About greenbeanfx

Photography is what I do =) If you wish to contact for a photoshoot, send me an email or comment on a blog with your info and I'll get back

Posted on November 23, 2009, in Aperature and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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