When you’re meticulous about your craft, you take notice when someone else has the same attention to detail and quality. So it’s no surprise that when Phoenix photographer Michael Baxter and master builder Patrick Hughes were introduced, they understood each other right away. Patrick commissioned Michael to photograph Bourbon & Bones, Cold Beer & Burgers, and Crab & Mermaid, the three latest restaurants constructed by his company, Panther Construction. We took some time to ask Michael a few questions about the project.
First off, can you tell me how you got involved with this project?
I’ve worked for several years with a designer named Brandon Boetto of SlabHaus, photographing his amazing custom concrete tables. He had worked with Patrick Hughes and somehow got in conversation about photography. Brandon referred Patrick to me in classic networking fashion. We had a great conversation centering around quality craftsmanship, which both of us strive for in our respective industries.
What was the purpose of this project?
The photos are part of a planned effort to elevate the quality of images Patrick has in his portfolio. He almost exclusively caters to the restaurant industry, and wants to showcase his work in its best light. He will be launching a new website, with these images leading off the presentation.
What was involved in the planning/preproduction?
I don’t necessarily need to see the space to capture it, as my method is fairly consistent, but I prefer to scout most locations so I can understand the vision of my client. I respect the amount of time they have spent on designing and building each space, and I want to know which areas hold significance to them. This allows me an opportunity to present a scouting gallery prior to the actual shoot, so the client can select the exact views they want to have photographed. I find this eliminates guess work and potential disappointment.
What was involved in the production and post production of the images?
I prefer to keep retouching to a minimum because of its tedious nature. This prompts me to shoot like a retoucher. My assistant and I address every single table and chair within view. I don’t want to retouch based on sloppiness. I save retouching for items that cannot easily be fixed on site. My standard workflow involves balancing and converting the RAW images for intended color and exposure. My approach was to capture the elegance of the house lighting without overpowering it with my own supplemental light. The space is on the darker side and I wanted to maintain that atmosphere, so I added light to help define the shapes and textures.
What was your favorite part of the project?
Out of the three restaurants, Bourbon & Bones was the most enjoyable to photograph. My favorite part is being trusted to showcase the space by a new client. He left me and my assistant alone in his place (with no time limit) to capture the best images we could. I truly enjoy being allowed to carefully craft each image in a well designed space. If the house lighting is good, you have confidence that the images will look great by default. This prompts me to try to elevate the quality to yet a higher level.
What has the reaction to the images been so far?
Patrick had this to say…”Wow, just wow, those are incredible. Thank you again, every time I look at these images, they get better, I am extremely pleased.”
Any future plans for this project?
This one is complete, so we’re onto the next place.
To view more of Michael’s work, check out baxterimaging.com.