When you’re hired to photograph the same subject multiple times, you need to get creative. At least according to Charleston, S.C.-based food and portrait photographer Christopher Shane. And, really, he should know. You see, Christopher has been commissioned to photograph well-known Southern chef Sean Brock eight times, by six different clients. Sometimes for a simple portrait, sometimes for a food shot, but always the same general theme. Sean, the repeat subject, is a James Beard Foundation award winner for Best Chef Southeast and is the executive chef at McCrady’s Restaurant and Husk—he’s also one of Christopher’s favorite people to shoot.
Christopher has enjoyed every one of his Sean Brock assignments—which have been for Food Arts Magazine, Endless Vacation, The Washington Post, and Charleston Magazine to name a few. He’s not exactly sure why he keeps getting called to shoot Sean—”from my knowledge it’s all been coincidence”—but is always more than happy to do so. The only issue with shooting the same chef and his restaurants repeatedly is trying to highlight something new or different with each shoot. However, he and Sean have developed a nice rapport which has helped Christopher be able to capture some interesting shots. Christopher says,
Sean and I get along very well and usually have a few good laughs throughout the shoot (usually at each other’s expense, e.g. me falling in a ditch or touching an electric fence). I enjoy shooting with him. It’s nice to have the challenge of finding something different at the same location and with the same subject. So far things have worked out well. I always know that Sean will be up for shooting any kind of portrait, which is a great thing for me.
Christopher has been able to come up with some interesting solutions to creating unique shots with the same subject and locations.
One really has to start looking around and thinking outside of the box. The last shoot I had at Husk we ended up shooting the last dish on a wooden floor of the bar. It has a great texture to it and paired nicely to the cast iron skilled used for plating. Also, uncontrollable things happen all the time but more times than not they actually work out for the best. For instance we were shooting a cake that took two days to prepare and it unexpectedly cracked at the top, but it worked out great because it looked so much more rustic with the wooden background and neutral colored plates we shot it with.
So far, Christopher’s favorite Sean shot is the one of him holding a pig’s head in front of his face.
It’s just a fun, spontaneous photo of something he would do as if kidding around with friends or staff. Also, it really emphasizes his love of pork!
Christopher hopes to continue working with Sean and is ready for assignment number nine.