Before I started my photography business, I was fresh out of art school, making films and working in kitchens to support myself. So years later, when the USA Pears Bureau came calling for a photographer for their Canada wide culinary competition, they had no idea how perfect a fit I would be.
We turned one local Vancouver project into a five year working relationship that spanned four cities (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Portland) in two countries. It was inspiring to watch young chefs learn to navigate the pressures of a live audience and become media savvy while my camera was in their faces. I really loved this project and couldn’t wait for it to roll around each Spring.
USA Pears treated me so well, and I really enjoyed being behind the scenes for them. I used my five years of experience as a cook to help me understand what the chefs were doing and going through. They got better images that way, and I enjoyed the highs and lows, the long hours, and the full gamut of the chefs’ human experience and shooting it all in a documentary/cinema verite style.
I must have done something right since they continued to hire me and fly me around North America to shoot for them while they were still doing the competition. Unfortunately they canned the competition in 2016 due to budget cut backs, but for five years it was so much fun.
The photography needs for our culinary competition were demanding to say the least. We needed a photographer who could seamlessly shoot behind-the-scenes in a crowded, bustling kitchen, as well as the celebrity judging (taking place on live TV), portraits of five competitors from across the country, AND recipe photography. I honestly didn’t even hope to find a photographer with the talent to do it all well. And with a blind referral, I found Jon. His portfolio was certainly impressive, and he happened to mention that he had formal culinary training. Yet I knew I was still asking a lot from on photographer. The day of the event arrived, and Jon adeptly moved about the space, always shooting where the action was without getting in the way. When I received the photos, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He perfectly captured the bustle of the kitchen and the moments of triumph before the judges. The portraits of the competitors were fun and flattering. And the recipe images were so gorgeous they rivaled studio food photography! Jon has a great eye and is a master of perfect lighting, which is especially important for any food photography. Plus, he’s a joy to work with. We were so thrilled with Jon’s performance that we hired him to travel across the US and Canada for subsequent years’ competitions!Cristie Mather