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Digital photos of your visit to a special restaurant on a special night or that fabulous seafood restaurant you discovered during a vacation are sure to be some of the most interesting pictures in your collection—if you follow the tips and techniques in this three-part PhotographyTalk.com article.
Part 1 explained the importance of planning ahead and thinking like a pro sent to the restaurant on assignment. It also emphasized how critical it is to contact the restaurant in advance to make arrangements to shoot whatever photos the management will allow. You’re apt to be given more latitude if you talk with the manager in advance; he or she will appreciate that you don’t want to disrupt the operations of the restaurant. Part 2 continues the list of tips that will help you record your total restaurant experience.
Include on your shot list photos of the interior entrance, especially if it’s grand and/or sophisticated, or there’s a line of people from the parking lot waiting to order slabs of award-winning ribs. Try to record the maitre de, host or hostess greeting you, and then a wide photo or two as you enter the dining room, with all its activity. Waiting for your server is an excellent opportunity to shoot pictures of the table setting. Be prepared to shoot without a flash, as the management may not allow it, so increase your ISO, shoot at a slower shutter speed and look for places to brace and steady you and your camera.
As mentioned in Part 1, if you can arrange to photograph the restaurant before it is opened, you will be able to capture the fast-paced world of the kitchen. You are more likely to be allowed near the chefs early than during crunch time. You would also have the opportunity to photograph the wait staff setting tables and a shot or two of the empty restaurant fully prepped to receive the first patrons. Include some close-ups of the table settings, especially if elegant dinnerware, flatware, glassware and linens are used. At the other end of the spectrum, but just as photographable, is the famous Texas barbecue joint that serves your order on a big piece of butcher paper – no plates!
If you haven’t made previous arrangements with the management, then don’t be surprised if you’re not allowed in the kitchen, especially during the busiest time of the day. Then again, if you do receive permission, then find a good place from which to shoot, but not disrupt the flow of activity or the cause of accidents. Low-light conditions will require a higher ISO setting and a slower shutter speed, as slow as 1/10th to 1/30th. Think of using that slow speed creatively by purposely allowing the kitchen staff to blur as they speed through their tasks, or catch the flames leaping from a pan.
If you are granted access to the kitchen, then ask one or more of the chefs to pause for a moment, so you can frame a portrait, or capture a chef focused on the food he or she is preparing. As a patron, you have immediate access to the staff that waits your table, from the primary server to a beverage server to the busboy. They are all part of your restaurant experience story. Again, ask their permission to photograph them and remember they are working; but you shouldn’t cause a problem if you ask them to pause a moment, so you can record their pleasant manner and the work they do. Wandering throughout the restaurant to shoot other staff members is problematic unless you have permission.
Read Part 3 of this PhotographyTalk.com article for more photography tips about capturing your restaurant experience. (Coming Soon)