I’ve been having fun taking bar and restaurant photos for the Stranger lately, but the shoot I did at Art of the Table was one that really stood out for me. I arrived before the place opened, and got to talk a little with chef Dustin Ronspie and the other folks working there before the night’s supper club guests arrived. The dining area was beautiful–softly lit, with all the places set. But the kitchen, like most restaurant kitchens, was lit by a set of overhead fluorescent lights. This is pretty universally unflattering light, so it was a challenge to work around it. What ended up working the best was to use the incandescent light coming from the warming lamps on the work area:
When Dustin was leaning over to plate the food, his face was lit by the softer, warmer light reflected off the white dishes on the counter. You can see that in the photo above, which is the one that they ran in the review online.
In the photo they picked for the print version you can see what the lighting looked like when it was 100% fluorescent:
It’s flatter and less dramatic. It also doesn’t have the variation in color–in the top photo you can see that the incandescent light on his face is more yellow and the fluorescent light in the background is more blue. In some cases mixed lighting like that can look off, but in this case I thought it looked interesting.
The restaurant/supper club seemed like an unusually intimate experience. Standing there in the kitchen watching Dustin and his brother put together each dish, and then listening to Dustin tell the guests about where the ingredients came from was very cool. I’d love to go back there and eat instead of taking photos. You can read the Stranger‘s review here.