I recently had the opportunity to shoot celebrity Chef Susur Lee at Lee Restaurant here in Toronto. It was during the start of TIFF and I could tell he was a busy preparing. We were scheduled for about 30 minutes to photograph him but I knew we would be lucky to get a solid 20 once he walked in room so I had to make my time count.
When I plan an upcoming shoot with a celebrity I try to get as many details as possible about the venue. Often we are limited by time and making the most of the location is crucial. For this shoot I arranged with his PR agent to arrive an hour before the shoot to set up. I had seen photos of the interior so I knew what type of equipment I wanted to work with. I chose a light, compact and wireless set up so we could move quickly from room to room. We picked 4 location to shoot him throughout the restaurant and worked out the lighting set ups. The kitchen would be our 5th location but his team was busying prepping for the day ahead so we would have to work on the fly for that one.
Once we had it down we set up in the easiest spot to transition from and waited for Chef Lee. Having everything in it place allowed me to focus on engaging with him once he arrived. Normally I would do some research on what my subject’s current projects are and try to find some common interests to talk about. This one was easy in that I have followed his career and have a keen interest in the culinary world. Good conversations can translate to a stronger images.
In the end we did shoot for about 20 minutes. Chef Susur Lee was appreciative of our speed and organization. By asking for a little more pre-shoot prep time and going in well informed we were able to produce a full editorial that looked like we had spent hours shooting.