Vernon's Hidden Valley Steakhouse

My business model for restaurant photography is evolving. I no longer simply head in at the right time of day with a reflector and look for the best window light to photograph a delicious plate of food near. There are more people to photograph now, often in environments with little or no natural light. I bring speedlights and diffusers to help with that. And lately, an emphasis is being placed on spaces. Sometimes I need more lighting for this as well, but I've been increasingly leaning more toward a tripod and long, often blended, exposures.

At Vernon's I arrived late one evening and took care of the food photos with waning evening natural light and reflectors. Then we moved on to actor/model Jackamoe Buzzell, who is the perfect mobster face of Vernon's. I used a couple of SB700s and my beloved Photek Softlighters for his portraits as well as those of executive chef Craig Murphy.

Vernon's is a very dark, quiet and beautiful space with a speakeasy theme. Everything has been thought out by the ownership, from the lighting to the construction, decor and furniture. I tried to honor this by drawing out the details of each space as much as possible. Architectural lines, wall art, lighting subtleties and colors, furniture choices, etc... The key, in my mind, was to preserve the dark, private environment at Vernon's (not just lighting everything up), yet provide a rich array of details for the eye to soak up. Hopefully this comes across in the resulting images.