I was working on a story about a non-traditional Thanksgiving feast for a spa magazine out of California and we needed to do some "studio" shots of the various presentations coming out of the home kitchen of the writer. I kept scouting around for a good location in the 1980's style kitchen but not finding anything that would work well with the various dishes and the stylish bowls and plates we were using. I took a moment to walk outside and re-center my thoughts. This would be the moment the photographer goes outside for a cigarette except that I don't smoke.
While I was standing in the writer's back yard looking at a small, kidney shaped pool, my eyes rummaged across the remains of a home improvement project. Probably tile used in the rehab of a bathroom on the second floor. I grabbed four pieces of the tile and headed back into the house. I built a small stage with the tile on the floor of the living room because it was the space with the least traffic, the closest proximity to the kitchen and the most space in which to set up lights.
The lighting was very straightforward. One electronic flash in a medium sized softbox from the top left of the frame and one big piece of white foamcore as the fill from the opposite side. Incident light meter reading with the ball of the meter aimed directly at the camera. Power on the pack juggled until I got f16. I used a Bronica SQ-Ai, medium format camera with a 150mm lens and Fuji ISO 100 transparency film. We took Polaroid tests to make sure we had the exposure right and then proceeded to shoot ten or so dishes. The soup was my favorite.
The chef brought the soup in a pan and carefully poured it into the bowl, which was already positioned on the set. He then garnished the dish and added the olive oil drops. When he moved out of my light I snapped a three shot bracket and we moved on to the next dish.
The story ran eight pages and looked good. Sometimes work is straight forward, once you figure out what to shoot on and where to shoot.