Photography in the New Edition
Posted 17 November 2005 - 12:12 PM
Posted 17 November 2005 - 02:54 PM
Your new book, Paula, has so many lovely photographs, and various kinds, b&w, color spreads, the simple and pretty bouquet with the ochre tint on the inside of the front and back cover... It was particularly exciting to see that all of the photographs were done by Mr. Christopher Hirsheimer, who makes appearances in so many of the cookbooks I have that feature photos. How did you come to the decision to use Mr. Hirsheimer's work, and what was it like working with him? How much time did you have with him? What kind of equipment did he have? How did you go about arranging for the photo sessions? Do tell all!
First to correct you (and I do so gently because everyone makes the same assumption) Christopher, despite her unique first name, is actually a woman. An extremely talented one too. I have known her for years, ever since I started writing for Saveur, where she was responsible for much of the original studio and field photo work. I agree with you: her photos for the book are stunning.
On this job I believe she used a 4x5 Mimaya (spelling/?) and absolutely no artificial lighting. In fact, her trademark style is to use only natural light. She did the entire shoot at my Somoma house in four days, using only my pots and plates as props.
I prepared all the food except the madeleines, which were made by my husband (who loves making them) . They were cooling on a cookie rack when Christoper walked in. She took one look and said she'd shoot them first. I offered to arrange them on a plate. She shook her head. She moved them a little but kept them at odd angles on the rack. That's her genius, I think -- her incredible eye!
She brought along a great stylist, Julie Lee, who isn't at all the fussy stylist type. She and Christoper understand that "less is more."
The most interesting part of the shoot was the cover photo. The suits from San Francisco came up to the house to watch, as the cover is perhaps the most important marketing tool. Bill built a fire and then fed the flames when Christopher needed a little burst in the background. And as my kitchen fireplace is in the darker half of the room, at one point three of us were positioned to work reflectors (in one case the reflector was a big paella pan!) bouncing light from the windows, to a second reflector, and then to a third, which directed it in turn onto the cassoulet.
The shoot was a great experience, and it was much more fun to do it in the house than at a studio in New York. Christopher is just great at what she does, and I hope to work with her again when the time comes to shoot the clay pot book.
Posted 17 November 2005 - 03:19 PM
I'll put the photo of the cover shot you desccribe above here again so we can see it in the context of this thread. Your husband was puffing up the fire...
So Mme Hirsheimer took all of the photos in the book right there in your kitchen, and you prepared each of the dishes yourself for the photos. That must have been one huge cooking extravaganza. Did you invite all of your neighbors to enjoy the bounty at that time?
On another note, Mme Christopher Hirsheimer might be an interesting future guest for a spotlight conversation!
Posted 18 November 2005 - 01:46 PM
"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " --Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production."
Posted 18 November 2005 - 03:53 PM
The photos are mouthwatering and look fantastic (I love the cabbage wrapped chicken breasts one).
How did you decide which recipes to photograph?
I worked up a list of dishes I could prepare in advance and also a few that needed last minute cooking. I wanted photos of some dishes that would appeal to hard core foodies and others that wouldn't look too difficult. The photographer and I discussed my list, and narrowed it down. Thanks for your kind words. I, too, think it worked out pretty well.