A few years ago I got an e-mail from an art director at a big advertising agency in Stockholm. He was looking for a food photographer in my hometown for a large studio shoot for a client and a common friend had given him my name. He told me he loved what he saw on my website but it lacked of food shots in studio environment. I told him as it was, food photography isn't my number one business and that why I don't showcase that on my website. This was friday afternoon, I had left the office and asked if it was OK to send him some pictures right after the weekend. We agreed and hung up. There was only one problem. I´d never shot food in studio environment ever before and didn't have a single frame to show. I´d done food in natural environment, for food and travel articles loads of times, but in a studio - never.
But if god manage to create the world in six day, I should manage to create some stunning shots in two and a half, don't you think? I canceled my sunday volleyball game with my friends and started scouting for a food stylist, available for some emergency work during the weekend. While my Facebook network were helping me getting in touch with the right people I started scouting the web for inspirational. Wrote down a few ideas, trying to make the ten pictures I was aiming to shoot as diverse as possible. Not to long after putting my distress call on Facebook, a friend of mine gave me the number for a guy running a amazing diner in the other end of town.
Early saturday we talked over the phone, agreed on what kind of dishes we where making and at the same time I was shooting a full-day at a hotel, me and my assistant went all over town buying plates, cloths and utensils to use as props the next day. Got back home at 11 pm, fell asleep at 2 after editing and sending the images from the hotel.
The alarm went of five hours later, I was meeting my food stylist to buy groceries at his favorite place. For eight hours, we "cooked", arranged and shot ten dishes in my studio. Then, I spent the rest of the day to edit and send the finished pictures. Ended up in my bed, surrounded by the left-over food from the day and downing the bottle of red wine that we had been using in the shoot. Dead-tired after nothing but work for four days.
Some of you might think that I'm a liar. Pretending to be able to do something that I've never done before. But sometimes there is a catch 22 in any kind of business and you'll have to be a little bit cocky to get where you want to be.
I was very confident that I would pull of such a shoot if I was assigned one. I know how to use the light and shadows, angles, backgrounds and depth of field. The way of thinking and creating an image is the same in a bungalow in Taiwan as if it's in my window light studio here in Malmö.
The problem is that most clients need to see examples of the images they want you to shoot. It is very hard for them to know if the great technique in your portraits in your portfolio is transmittable to let's say portraits of horses for their clients next ad. They need to see proof that you are able to pull it off.
I had shot food plenty of times before and I certainly know how to use the daylight in my studio. I knew I was going to be able to put the two together. After all, photography is about capturing what you see in the best way possible, and I know how to do that.
If the art director would have requested studio LIGHT pictures on the other hand, I would have told him no. I don't have a clue how to use studio flashes. If you are going to fake it, be sure that you have all the experience you need to make it.
In todays photo world, you need to be a little daring now and then. Just prepare to walk the walk if you talk the talk.
Oh, by the way, I got the job.