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A portrait photographer often has to push people and seek out the best shot of an individual, sometimes they’re hard to coax in front of the camera and unwilling to do anything that would lend themselves to a good portrait. Sometimes they offer to light their hat on fire.
Chef Patrick Garland of Absinthe Cafe in Ottawa is clearly the later. This year he’ll be competing in Gold Medal Plates – a charity driven cooking competition – and they needed a headshot for their posters and other campaign material. Problem: like most people Chef doesn’t like having his picture taken.
I was familiar with the restaurant, it’s in my neighbourhood and have eaten there on many occasions, but I didn’t know Patrick, but his business partner (the one who booked me for the shoot) was confident I’d be able to break-down Pat’s rough exterior. I’m a fairly unconventional photographer, and Pat wouldn’t settle for a conventional chef headshot.
We worked on-location in the restaurant, they have these great painted walls that made a perfect background. I set up my lights and started shooting him as he was.
After some casual heckling – which could have potentially back-fired on me – he made the offer “Hey, you want to light a chef’s hat on fire?”
We had two hats. The first one burned un-evenly. The second, which didn’t last long, was all we needed.
Good luck at Gold Medal Plates chef! I’m pretty sure we already have the best image, now it’s just a matter of making the food. Also, if you’re interested, you can read about my lighting setup over on flickr.