When my associate photographer (and everything else Photography by Misty) Jenny asked me to write a blog about the best shoots of 2019, I cringed a little. Not to sound like a mushy gushy photographer, but I fall in love with all (ok, ok, most) of my clients. How in the heck am I supposed to choose just one or two?
Well, I did! Honestly, one was a no brainer. As a creative who mainly shoots DFW headshots, I welcome a photography session that’s a bit out of the ordinary. So when Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen called, I jumped at the opportunity. There are several areas of photography I don’t touch, and food is one of them. However, this was for an unusual ad campaign and not for menu-worthy images. I beg of you to read the story leading up to the corsage croissant, which was the star of the photography session.
The initial fun began when I, as all photographers are, was faced with my first challenge. On my shoot list was the model’s hand and corsage with the Cheddar’s outside signage visible in the background. The problem? Whelp, there was no street-level verbiage. The Cheddar’s name, instead, loomed 20 feet above the entrance. Thank goodness there was a (faux) balcony. Although, there was no built-in access. And also thank goodness the manager was young and carefree and didn’t think about the liability of his waitress climbing a ladder in a prom dress. Out of the kitchen came the sous chefs with a ladder in tow. Off came the model’s high heels and up she went. (And once again) thank goodness, she was wearing sports shorts underneath her prom dress, as the young bucks below had their heads tilted toward the sky (for safety reasons, of course).
They then brought the ladder my way, so the model and myself could be eye-to-eye with one another, sans a tripod. It was an adrenaline rush, for sure.
The craziest part of all this effort? These were not even the shots that made the cut. The number two image which got the most press wasn’t even on the shootlist. I mean, even at a photography session like this, I still have to create a couple of images for selfish purposes. And sometimes, just sometimes, they are a chosen master image.
It was the images inside that got the most attention, including an Instagram post by restauranteer and famous chef Alex Guarnaschelli. You know the one. She can be seen on Food Network shows Chopped, Iron Chef America as well as a plethora of other cooking competitions. Now, keep in mind while reading the rest of this paragraph, I got over the excitement of by-lines after my first several articles as a journalist. So it didn’t bother me when my images were slathered all over the media without mention of the photographer (in the corporate photography world, clients pay for full copyrights or at least they do with me). However, when my assistant on the shoot Ariel noticed Ms. Guarnaschelli, or her PR peeps, gave credit to @peoplefood, it bothered me. I requested credit a couple of times, and then just considered it water under the bridge. Hey, I’m now just glad she liked it.
Here’s what happened inside, which lead to the master images:
Upon moving inside, the chefs had created piles of fried cheese curds (oh-so yummy, yet oh-so naughty at the same time) and an onion-ring tower. Our model daintily chose an onion ring, hesitating for the camera along the way to her mouth. We didn’t get any behind-the-scenes shots, darn it. They would have been priceless, as this was the first time (or at least that I can remember) I’ve been perched atop and sat criss-cross-applesauce on a restaurant table. To get just the right angles was, of course, the purpose of these smooth moves. And Ariel and I may have just eaten a few curds and rings along the way.
While that image was on the priority list, the Google-eyed onion-ring prom girl was not, and that little gem was the runner up for most publicity.
Honestly, in my wildest dreams I could not have imagined a more unique subject matter or twists and turns. Portrait sessions are almost always full of surprises, and that’s what makes photographers fall in love with their craft over and over again.
I will tell you about my other top-session choice, but it must be saved for another day. In the meantime, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, call any time. I may even do it pro bono, as a good great day in my world is determined by how much fun we created.