When I was younger I always wondered what it would be like to work as a professional photographer. I pictured working with clients in some sort of studio with wide open spaces and huge soft boxes. Everything was organized and everything was easy. Yeah I know, how naive was I?
Sebastian and I rarely get to shoot in a studio setting. In fact, almost every shoot we have done has been at a different location that we don't get to see until the day of. Any professional photographer will tell you that you have to be able to adapt if you want to be successful. It is this ability that will showcase your experience to your clients and make you stand out. Our last shoot was definitely one of those times where we had to adapt to our surroundings and let past experience guide us.
We have been shooting a lot of food products lately so when Sweetgreen contacted us to capture a few images for their upcoming Spring menus we were pretty excited. The instructions where to meet them at the Dupont storefront, which also acts as their test kitchen — simple enough. The day of the shoot Sebastian and I grabbed a quick coffee and headed into the restaurant ready to see where the day would take us.
Right as we walked through the front door the Sweetgreen team greeted us with smiles. They were ready to get to work. We followed them down a flight of stairs to the basement of the restaurant where the actual test kitchen is setup. Chef Michael Stebner runs this kitchen and it is where Sweetgreen's fresh menu is handcrafted.
Walking into the test kitchen was surreal for me. Being the hip foodie that I am, I geek out during experiences like these. Does it get any better than being in the basement of a restaurant that is about to go nation wide and talking with their chef about ingredients? Then I realize Sebastian and I are there to take pictures for them! It's time to focus.
When you walk into a room and examine it like Jason Bourne out of The Bourne Identity you know you have become a master of the trait. Where are the power outlets? What are the dimensions of this room? How high is the ceiling? What is the available light? These are the question that every photographer should be looking to answer within the first moments of entering a new location.
Looking around the test kitchen Sebastian and I looked at each other with concerned expressions. The room was no larger than 150ft long x 50ft wide with a ceiling that was maybe 8ft high. We also realized that the outlet selection was very limited. Looping back, this is a situation where the ability to adapt will make or break you. Sebas and I took 5 minutes to evaluate the room and determined that we would have to setup right in front of the only entrance/exit. We both kind of smiled and started setting up the equipment. It took us about 40 minutes to get everything set, but we were able to get it done. My favorite part of our setup was our 10ft ladder that was literally going between the support beans in the ceiling.
Once we were all setup Chef Stebner started sending food our way. We had a mix of Sweetgreen team members that were helping prep and style the salads while we were snapping photos. Everyone was laid back and ready to jump in to help even though we were in such a tight area. It was a lot of fun working with Sweetgreen and being able to visit the test kitchen and learn more about the food industry and how it all comes together. I hope you enjoy the rest of the pictures and come back soon to check-in on our most recent adventures.
Words: Tim Images: Tim & Sebastian