New York-based photographer Chris Sorensen recently shared with us his experience shooting an editorial travel story in Northern California for the Hong Kong Tatler about Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. Rosewood wanted to promote their properties and Northern California as a travel destination, and seeing as they are owned by Hong Kong-based company New World Development, it was fitting to have a publication back “home” compose a piece about them.
The Tatler is a high-end, luxury magazine focusing primarily on Hong Kong but has recently started incorporating international travel pieces as well. A few years ago, when Chris was living in Hong Kong, he completed his first major editorial shoot with them and, from there, established a long-lasting relationship.
Since his return to New York, Chris has continued to work in close collaboration with the Tatler and recently shot a cover story on Larry Gagosian and Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi. So when the publication asked him to photograph a travel story in San Francisco, he was excited about the opportunity to work on something new with one of his longtime clients.
A job for an old client, enjoying great food and drink in a cool place was an easy decision!
For this assignment, Chris was sent to San Francisco alongside writer Jakki Phillips and prominent Hong Kong-based food blogger Janice Leung Hayes to travel, experience a culinary adventure, and craft a story. The goal of the piece was to show an upscale side to Northern California that would appeal to their readers, and it was a natural progression that Chris & co. would stay in the luxurious Rosewood resorts. They met with various chefs throughout Northern California and toured around for five days.
Typically, when shooting an editorial travel piece, the photographer is working with a finished article or an extensive shot list. For this project, the pre-planning was very minimal, and because he was traveling with the writer, the article wasn’t complete. This proved to be a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, he was granted the creative freedom to photograph anything and everything. On the other, he needed to make sure that whatever the writer would eventually include in the article would have complementary images. Luckily, Chris had previously worked on a similar cover project with Hemispheres in Panama, so he was accustomed to covering as much ground as possible.
Their culinary tour emphasized the farm-to-table atmosphere that is prevalent in Northern Californian cooking. In true farm-to-table fashion, Chris was able to capture every step of the process, from the field to the processing plant to the chef purchasing ingredients and preparing the cuisine to, finally, the freshly-cooked meal being served on a restaurant table.
It was also a bit farm to table to glass because we also visited a few wineries recommended by sommeliers who worked with our chef guides so we could document that process as well. There were more behind the scenes elements and we were able to be more experimental than with most travel shoots.
This particular production deviated from the fast-paced nature that is typical of travel assignments, where the photographer is hurriedly chasing sunrise to sunset and has very limited time in most places. Because he was granted several days to really dive into the subject matter, Chris enjoyed a truly unique experience working on this piece.
On this trip, I not only got to see and shoot great places, I got to sit and eat delicious meals, drink fine wine, have fantastic conversations with amazing people. It was as much of a “vacation” as a travel shoot can be.
The magazine and photo editor were thrilled with the way the images turned out, and another publication has already contacted Chris based on this story. The published photos and other images from the trip will be available for licensing at Gallery Stock in the near future.