This was my first shoot at a Restaurant and as you can guess I was pretty nervous. I didn’t want to mess it up but also get the shots that I wanted. I have always shot inside a studio with the subject being always quiet. But I know its not going to be the same at a restaurant. People are going to get curious of what you are doing, there will be distractions and the set will not be in our control. At the end of the shoot let me just say that I was 60% happy but this experience gave me so much to learn about.
I now know how I will make my next shoot a lot more happier. I want to share these details with you so you if you are new like me you would have a heads up knowledge.
1. Preparation for the shoot.
You want to shoot in an outdoor! Thats evident, but what is the concept you are going for. Be clear in this part because the rest of your decisions change based on this requirement. Once you are clear go to Zomato.com and look out for restaurants near you. Zomato has listings of many restaurants with beautiful pictures. So this helps to virtually checkout the place before you shoot. I wish they had 360 degree view (I will be happy to shoot some videos for them). Next comes the research on the menu. Filter the restaurants based on their menu which matches your concept. By now you should have 4-5 options in hand. For the next step don’t hesitate. Pick up the phone and give everyone a call to ask if they would allow you to use their premises. “Puchne mein kya jaata hai!” You will be surprised to see now many doors open when you actually ask. For me the kind hearts at Tales & Spirits (T&S) from S.B Road in Pune opened up their venue to do the shoot. Big restaurants have very busy people and we cannot expect them to remember about our shoot. Once you get the permission make sure that you confirm your shoot again two days before the shoot. Also do not forget to remind them a day before the shoot that you will be coming the next day. Communication is the key.
2. Props to take.
The restaurants will mostly have all the necessary items for your shoot. As you would know for stock photography you need a bit more than just shooting the plain food. Mostly its about dressing the composition. In my case I wanted to shoot the colourful Pizza that Tales & Spirits serves for its customers. But I wish I had taken some colour vegetables that they actually used in the pizza to be kept around the subject to make it meaningful.
Similarly for this Rice & Cheese curry, I wish I had fresh and green pudhina kept around the shot to make it more interesting. But nonetheless the kinds hearted chef helped me by dressing the table with few slices of bell pepper on the plate.
This does not mean that you will get a great shot only if you have had these ingredients. It would have certainly helped and I will sure take them along in my next shoot. Using your active mind in that situation to manage with what you have around is the best way. Like how I took this shot which required no props to be placed around.
3. Managing the crowd.
The restaurant is a place when people are very social. There are going to be a lot of stares and chit chat about what you are doing. The best way to handle this is to be polite and just carry on with what you are doing. If some people come to ask you questions then please take time to answer just to the question and get back to your work. Most will feel happy that you gave your time and let you do the work. Remember you are at the restaurant to shoot so do not spend time in explaining about what you are doing. Finding a corner of the restaurant where you will not disturb the guests will also help. I took up the side walkway of the Tales & Spirits restaurant to do the shoot.
4. Setting up the shot.
Be quick. There you go. Thats one word you have to remember. Depending on the food you order it may be hot or cold. Hot food with dressing will soon become cold or make the vegetables change colour. If you delay then you will miss the steam that comes out of the food. Of course you can add them in Post Processing, but nothing matches like the real one. Isn’t it why you decided to go to a restaurant to do the shoot. So before the food comes take time to set the lights and be ready.
Likewise if its cold food then then you will soon see frosting on the walls of the container. As time goes by the beads will become bigger and it will not look that great in the shot. Be fast and knowing what you want helps.
5. Say thanks always.
The people of the restaurant have given you their time, permission to use their premises which they have loving crafted to impress their guest. So be thankful to them by doing few more shots if they require. Make sure you thank everyone. From the person who took those extra few minutes to suggest the best dish they have to the guy who actually helped you carry the equipments for the shoot. Always be courteous and polite to the people around you. But more importantly have fun with whatever you are doing. Thats the best way to spend a day.
Please share this article with budding photographers if you know any. Thanks.