Our house has had hundreds of cookbooks pass through and I've flipped through many of them not to browse the recipes, but to look at the photographs. One cookbook has always stood apart for me because it was so different, so cool. So, how lucky and excited was I when Michael Symon asked me to be the photographer for his first ever cookbook—and that one of his favorite cookbooks was White Heat, by Marco Pierre White, photographed by Bob Carlos Clarke. That's it!—I was stunned—but not surprised. This book was ground breaking with it's grainy, B&W photo journalist style when it came out in 1990, and Michael liked the idea of having B&W photos of him cooking and not just color finished shots. There are some really beautiful color finished shots, many of them
in the book, and all the photos on the back book jacket are by Ben Fink, a photographer in NY. I photographed Michael preparing the dishes using his kitchen lighting and one soft box light in front, with a slow shutter speed, between 400-1000 ISO, and almost always the widest open aperture. This, when converted to B&W, gives a grainy, full of motion, photo. Then quickly, as he plated his dish, I would change to 100 ISO, tripod the camera for the finished shot. This does not always result in a well thought out photo and sometimes, like below, our favorite shot for the dish would be while it was being prepared and not the finished plated photo. But it was real, and Michael's food is that—real, friendly and not fussed over—like him—a complete delight to work with. No surprise there either.
Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill