Cafe Cru (www.thecrucafe.com) is the new hot restaurant and wine shop in the new Cape Quarter extension. Jacques Castelein from Tasca de Belem-fame, returned to the market with this little gem. Having worked with him at Tasca, I was approached earlier this year in order to get some food and interior images shot for general marketing purposes. Jean Nel, also involved in the previous Tasca project, and partner in crime on a number of projects, was approached to facilitate food styling. Jean Nel is these days known as Weber-extraordinaire, food writer, stylist, consult, teacher at among others the Pick and Pay cooking school and runs a successful boutique catering concern.
Some portraits, and general "feel" images were also needed, and we spent the initial part of our schedule shooting those.
Waiters were being trained around us, finding their feet around the really impressive wine list. I noted at least 10 of my favourite cellars on the wine list.
Getting the interiors right has proved a bit of a trick, as there is lots of ambient daylight, mixing with ambient artificial lights, and one can't go around killing all the atmosphere with flash, so we needed to do our thing carefully, and also capturing the whole place in one shot.
Technical things - food shot with flash, not available light. Cape Town available light in early spring is way too wish washy and uncertain for me, so I opted for consistent flash (much like Irving Penn).
General thoughts on shooting restaurants: food is king. Spend your money on good food photography. I want to gag when I see upmarket restaurants having amateurish images in their menu's and marketing material. Your food images can sell the location if it's properly done. Terrible food shots can totally destroy whatever amazing imagery you might have of your surroundings. Please don't skimp. On a industry as highly capitalised as restaurants, do not underspend or skimp on photography. Please.Spend on a good food stylist, as chefs are not stylists, most of the time. Don't skimp on preparation, either, as Jacques was prepped and ready for us. It shows. Do what you need to do.
Here is an example of a good team to use: