©2012 Kirk Tuck
The Pastry Chef ©August Sander.
The photo shoot was the first image in the synthesis of the company's upcoming campaign so the company brass was there to oversee my work and the work of the ad agency. In addition to the actual baker from one of their stores we also had, in attendance, both the CEO and the CFO. The only problem for me was authenticity versus the right look. While the baker they brought to the shoot had the right professional credentials he was also about 23 years old, had some tattoos and just didn't look the part.
I pulled the art director aside and voiced my concerns and we decided to go ahead and photograph the baker and then find a second solution. No sense hurting feelings on the set. As soon as we made our decision it dawned on me that the CFO had just the right look. A bit older and with more gravitas. The art director suggested that since it was my idea I won the job of persuading the man in the suit to make a temporary career change and don the chef whites.
Once we finished photographing the younger (real) baker we thanked him and sent him on his way. Now we got down to the real business. We had the CFO put on the chef's coat, pinned the back so it fit right, put a little powder on his face to keep him in a nice "matte" finish and proceeded to photograph. We had a range of smiling, not smiling and permutations that mixed both but for some reason the consensus was that this shot was our keeper.
I made a straight black and white print with no toning or softening for the ad agency to use in print production. Later I went back into the darkroom and printed on several different double weight papers before I finally settled on the look of Agfa Portriga paper, toned in a dilute selenium toner. The version up above is the one I put into my portfolio.
My portrait of the CFO/Baker was lit with one very large soft box (4x6 feet) which was further softened by an extra layer of white, silk diffusion in front. A sheet of white foamcore placed about ten feet to the opposite side provided fill light for the left side of the subject's face.
The camera was a Pentax 6x7 with a 165mm lens. The film was Ilford FP-4.
If you don't know the work of August Sander you might want to do some web research. I find his work amazing not only for the extreme quality he brought to location lighting so many decades ago but also for the anthropological interest it kindles. You really feel as though you have a window into the past. You might also be interested in Irving Penn's book on photographing trades.