Mandy's Caribbean Bar & Restaurant
Mandy's is a small bar restaurant located on the quieter harbour side of Sai Kung. The limited seating inside or out already gives you a feel that this place was meant for people to meet new friends and be social.
Mandy herself one of those restaurant owners that don't like to beat around the bush. For me that is the type I people I like to work with. If it works it works and if it doesn't, tell me that instant, not after I do the post work. So with Mandy the moment we started talking I knew that it wasn't gonna be a problem.
She had prepared four dishes for me. Of course at the time of this blog entry I have had already forgotten the names.
Mandy's is one of those bars that unlike others where they just fry you up something salty and fattening, they put out a little more effort into making their food stand out from others. When you shoot several menus a week, food that stands out make a big difference to your photographs.
As we shot, there were a few exposures where Mandy wasn't too sure with the composition. She then asked if I would allow her friend to give it a go and play with the plating. For many photographers that is a big "nono,". I don't give a shit as long as I get the shot I want and the client is happy. At the end we are servicing the client not only with beautiful photos but like any business we gotta make sure the client is happy with us and not only our end product. As photographer you gotta know how to strike a balance and also ensure you can get the job done right doing so. Remember don't be shy to voice out and get someone's attention because at the end if you end up finding out a certain photograph is "uneditable" because you were to shy to ask for fresher greens on the plate, then the liability goes back to you rather than the cook or restaurant staff.
Photographing foods is a team effort and not only the photographers. In my experience shooting at Mandy's was the perfect example. Mandy got involved and she constantly offered suggestions and made sure I knew what she liked and not liked. If you are lucky you will get a client like that but if you are not, then you need to ply their mouths opened and get them to talk and tell you what they think.
As for the technicals, keep the lighting simple. I like to use what I call a 1 and 1 lighting setup. Meaning only 1 strobe with 1 reflector. Some people bring cardboards, mirrors and this and that as if they are filming in a studio. That doesn't work. If you want to make sure certain detail is not clipped, take some extra exposures.
Don't be too ambitious. Especially for menus. Most likely the photos will be small thumbnail like and being stubborn about certain detail at the end won't matter as much as you think.
At the end of our shoot I believe everyone had a great time. We had good conversation, great food, great beer (of course we were drinking Kronenbourg K1664), great photos... Photo Shoot you ask? Felt more like happy hour and that's a sign of a great shoot.