The last week of September Garrett and I set off for a four day macaroni and cheese photo shoot with food photographer Matt Armendariz and food stylist Adam Pearson. You might know Matt and Adam from Matt’s blog, or from around the food blogging community. Or, you’ve probably seen their work in some pretty impressive outlets, like Martha Stewart, the Food Network, Target, or one of the many cookbooks they’ve done the photos for.
Matt and Adam are quite a pair – they’re both at the top of their game when it comes to their respective talents, yet there’s no ego involved when working with them. They work so well together that I swear they could be the poster children for respectful communication and effective teamwork. There were a few dishes they nailed within two shots – and I mean one test photo, and then a second photo of cookbook-quality styling, composition, and exposure – which I found totally mind boggling.
As exciting as it was to watch our recipes appear before us in their aesthetic style, all gussied up like they were dressed for Sunday church, the most interesting part was getting to see a working commercial food photography studio in action. I was fascinated by the equipment they use, the way they communicate, how their workflow moves from beginning to end. I swear I learned more from Matt and Adam in four days that I did in a solid year of photography school. Impressive!
One thing I didn’t account for was how much work goes on beyond the actual shooting. Adam was in the kitchen for the vast majority of the time, working nonstop eight hours a day with three culinary-school trained assistants, just to get the food out to the photography area. And I can tell you folks, that kitchen was dang hot during what happened to be one of the hottest weeks of the year in Southern California. Hats off to Alexis, Hristina, and Beryl, who busted their butts to get everything looking perfectly photo-ready. Again, impressive! Especially considering each dish was to our recipe’s specifications and ready to eat. There was no weird motor oil covered food in their kitchen, that’s for sure.
I’ll leave you all with a handful of photos from the week. These are all my own photos; with not much to do but sit around and point, I found myself shooting a ton of photos of my own, just to keep myself busy. It was hard keeping out of Matt’s way, and I really appreciate his patience as I shot around his setup. I’ve select a few photos from the over one thousand that I walked away with. (!!!) I hope you enjoy the sneak peek into a real, working cookbook shoot.