In a different light
Shooting photographs for restaurant reviews can be tricky. Often the owners of restaurants have very specific things they want you to photograph, or NOT photograph. I try to respect their wishes without actually compromising any ethical boundaries. In other words, I’m there to document, not promote, but I also recognize it’s not my job to make anyone look bad. Certainly not intentionally.
Last Thursday, I was at Saigon Sisters restaurant on Lake St. in Chicago to shoot photos for a review. The restaurant recently reopened after relocating from a smaller space. As is often the case at restaurants, the lighting was dim (almost only candlelight) and the kitchen was bright. Two totally different settings, which can offer some helpful variations for photographs and can also cause problems with inconsistent results.
I would always recommend to a younger shooter to photograph plates of food in the kitchen area and not the dining rooms. The whiter, brighter light in most kitchens will make the food look at least slightly more appetizing. I don’t carry stobes and shoot only available light so this can be a major challenge for a shooter like myself. I try to work by the motto, “Don’t fight the light” and I generally don’t worry too much about it.
Among the things I wanted to document was the exterior. Saigon Sisters is located under train tracks for the El, which lends a cool, urban feel to the setting, but I just wasn’t able to show this properly.