Looking at what's being made at home and inspiration.

As I have been working on test shoots, to improve on my lighting manipulating and styling, I have forgone mentioning something else.  Lately I have been buying more heritage clothing and shoes.  My dad would be shocked if I told him how much each item costed.  The way I see it that I am spending a lot up front, but over time these clothing and shoes will be with me a good 20 years or my entire lifetime.  I am not a fan of fast fashion which majority clothing industry is at right now.  I know that some of my clothes, like my Levi jeans and dress shirts have come from overseas, but I am slowly moving my wardrobe to be Made in America.  If you want to see the human costs of fast fashion here are some youtube links to watch.

Cladwell.

John Oliver

Give them a watch.

So these brands that I have been buying?  Wolverine bootsFilson and Allen Edmonds.  So while I do admit that the cost of each item is a little hair raising, e.g., just one pair of my allen edmonds costed me $395.  Thankfully I am done buying dress shoes, or shoes in general.  I previously owned some shoes that I bought from DSW a year and a half ago that broke.  I spent $120 on that one pair.  If I had to spend $120 every year and a half for shoes, that would be more costly if I bought them every year and a half at about the same cost compared to buying a pair of $395 allen edmonds that is recraftable.  What I am trying to say is just buy smart when buying clothing for your wardrobe.  

Because of these new wardrobe purchases my own personal style has evolved from the put whatever comes in my hands or college dressing to a more refined and heritage look.  The three businesses, Wolverine, Filson, and Allen Edmonds have been making their products for a very long time.  I think Filson is the longest lasting one of the three.  Having three of their items, a Mackinaw Cruiser, Tin Cloth Short Cruiser, and their Magnum camera bag, it is suffice to say that I have a great love of their products.  

I am pretty close to finishing my wardrobe now.  I might pick up a pair of Redwing boots...

At this point, how this fits with my food work.. is that I am drafting up story pitches that combines those pieces and brands with food work.  For example, since I am in the city often, one story is a couple guys wearing allen edmonds shoes going to get cocktails and tapas.  Another is of an outdoor shoot, with filson gear and wolverine/redwing boots cooking food over a campfire.  I am trying to iron out those ideas and finding people who would be up for that.  I don't mind if they have to use my items, provided they fit and don't be abusive to them.  

While I was mulling over story pitches and ideas, I did some test shooting.  Check them out.

Making test shoots: Ice Cream

Bringing back the test shoots.  Back in mid 2012, I started going out more to check out different shops to eat and photograph while my test shooting went to the back burner.  Eventually I just focused on location and restaurant food images that my test work stopped.  Gladly after going to Penny's workshop, I have started to do more test shoots.  Well even though my work space is small.  Using a flash softbox and white/black boards, I have just been testing food styling and product work.  

For this session, I used the Weckerly's ice cream as my test subjects.  I stocked up on the pints, after finished eating them, and bought two more to make this set.  I also bought their Koko ice cream sandwich, but realized that I need more than one sandwich to make an image work.  So that will come later as I need to go back to the store to buy them.  I wanted to make this a little moody, and allow the whites and colors stand out more so I used more darks in the background and base.  Well for most of them.  

I am a sucker for natural light, but as I came home late from work yesterday it was already cold and dark out.  Hence using the flash and softbox to try to emulate morning light as it was placed to the right of these photographs.  I will eventually pick up a Profoto B1, but the flash and softbox will suffice for now. 

What I am training myself on, is where to place the items for a stronger composition, color coordination, styling of the food, and the lighting.  What I learned last night, is that photographing ice cream is always difficult.  And will be so in the summer when it is hot out.  Not only is it trickier to get the right looking scoop, you have to work fast before the subject starts to melt.  Being one person, moving fast with changing the sets and shooting means I have to be extremely efficient with my movements and decisions.

This is my summary of this test.  Ice cream sandwiches should come next.

Faces of Philadelphia

A couple days ago I got an email requesting photographs of some hot spots in Philadelphia for future issue a travel magazine.  One of them was a strong opening photograph of the city. I was in Philadelphia on Wednesday to visit Spot Burgers at the N3rd Market and asked Josh about this.  

"Hey, Josh!  How are you doing?"

"TED!  How are you man?  What are you up to?"

"Not much. Working on a current assignment.  One of the photo requests was an opening photograph of Philadelphia.  And I am at a loss of what and where.  I'd prefer not to submit the cliche, tourist spots.  I'd rather send in something food related.  Maybe I need to look at things with new eyes."

"Sounds tough, man!"

That was rough description of the exchange.  After eating my burger, I had the Rodeo if you were asking, I was still wondering about that photograph.  Even if the editor takes it or I submit one it was one that I wanted to think about.

As I looked through my backlog of photographs of Philadelphia, and looked at all the city and street scenes that I took, I started to think to myself... what and who really brought Philadelphia to what we see it is today?  Food

If you look back ten to fifteen years ago, no one has ever thought of Philadelphia as nothing more than US history and cheese steaks.  Today?  We have exposes in many of the national food publications- Bon Appetit writing Pizzeria Beddia as the state's best pizza, hummus from Dizengoff as the dish of the year, etc.  This is an drastic change from just thinking of Philadelphia as cheesesteak. Which, to be honest, I do not like.

So I thought about the food and how it made a great change in Philadelphia's reputation from the pit stop between NYC and DC.  It is the people who made these dishes.  All the days of toiling in the kitchen to come up with these recipes, the people who grow and produce those ingredients, the people brought ingredients to them, pretty much everyone in front and behind the scenes of every dish. 

As I zipped up my photographs to send over to the editor, I thought about writing this post.  My posts on Exposure, "Portraits of Food in Philadelphia" touches on this, but something that I hope would celebrate in its purpose.  It is these individuals, businesses, hard work, and creativity that has brought Philadelphia back in the forefront of every travel and food destination in the US and globally.