Menu shoot for Lost Heaven Silk Road
I recently was given the opportunity to shoot nearly 100 dishes for a new restaurant in Shanghai called Lost Heaven Silk Road. I’ve worked with the owners, Robin and Peter Yin, on a number of projects over the years. For anyone that has spent time in Shanghai you may be familiar with their Lost Heaven Yunnan cuisine restaurants. For this new venture they have gone northwest to the Silk Road Region of China and have created menu which captures the flavors of the region.
Working with Robin, who provides the inspiration for most of the dishes, is a lot of fun because he enjoys the visual process as much as creating flavorful dishes in the kitchen. So the approach for this shoot was to not only create a photo for each and every dish but to also capture them in a visually interesting way. With that in mind I set out to create a series of photographs in which a variety of backgrounds were used. Typically when I work on location I try to incorporate elements of the venue I’m working in. However, for this shoot the venue where I was working was still a construction site I had to scour the building, as well as the junk pile behind the building, to find materials that seemed appropriate.
The room I was in was full of paintings which were being created to install as part of the interior design of the new restaurant. Some of these painted panels were very useful as backgrounds.
When traveling I’m limited in the amount of equipment I can carry. For shoots like this I’ll usually bring two Einstein flash heads, reflectors, softboxes, a few light stands, a couple of camera bodies, a bag full of lenses, radio transmitters, light meter and a bunch of other bits and bobs. One of the most useful things I carry is a piece of black cloth which comes in handy for any number of things from blocking out light to using as a background.
One advantage to having two lights is that I could set up two shooting locations at the same time. With so many dishes to shoot it was necessary that I keep working in order to get the shoot done within a reasonable amount of time. If all the dishes were shot on the same background we could have probably done everything in less than two days. For this project we got it all completed in three days.
Technical Notes: Camera: 5D SR / Lights: Einstein 600 by Paul C. Buff, Chimera extra-small softboxes with grids / Lenses: 50 f1.2, 85 f1.2, 90 f2.8 TS, 100 f2.8 macro, 16-35mm f2.8 – All Canon
Note: All images above are pretty much straight out the camera with no retouching.