Interview with Audrey Rotermund

If you've been a loyal Snapwire user for the past couple of months, you might remember the name Audrey Rotermund from a previous interview we did with her in August. Well we just couldn't get enough of her work, so we decided to go in for another round. Audrey is a San Francisco based photographer whose style revolves around editorial photography. She recently did a series of requests for one of our clients Zagat, a company whose main goal is to let you know where the best place is to find that juicy bacon cheeseburger in town. Her photos were such a hit that we had to ask her more about it. Check out the interview below!  

What's your experience with food photography prior to Zagat?

Although I would not identify myself as a food photographer, a lot of my editorial clients have been in the food industry: such as Smitten Ice Cream, Off the Grid, and recent work with Supper Magazine. Along with my client work, I am always snapping a well composed #onthetable shot of my lunch for Instagram (@audreyrotermund).

Have you always been interested in shooting food or is this more of a recent venture?

Never having an interest in photographing only food, I have always held a passion for telling a story through food and it’s accompanying atmosphere. I love to showcase companies and the people that take an everyday necessity, such as eating, and go the extra mile to create exquisite dishes and delightful surroundings.

Do you have any specific types of food that you really like to shoot? ie. drinks, finger food, soups

 Anyone who knows me knows I have an obsession for coffee shops and really enjoy the culture that goes along with them. Give me a latte, on a rustic table, with some soft window light, and I will be the happiest photographer around.

You recently did a series of requests for Zagat, what was your thought process when it came to shooting these photos?

I really approached each restaurant with a clean slate and bit a research in my pocket. It was important to me to photograph all of the locations in a way that would showcase their individuality and thoughtfulness. I looked up or visited every restaurant prior to shooting and worked very closely with the people that make it all come together. I integrated the management, the staff, and even a few customers. Ultimately, my main goal was to create an image not only Zagat and myself were proud of, but more importantly, a photograph that the restaurant would be proud of.

Can you describe your editing process in regards to shooting food?

When it came down to editing, color was my main focus. I wanted to hold the integrity of the dishes, highlighting the conscious design of chefs. I used Lightroom for a few contrast adjustments, lens correction, and adding a grain filter using VSCOcam’s presets. Photoshop was used in a few photographs to retouch minimal spills or stains.

What are your favorite lenses when shooting restaurants or food?

I shot all of the foods with a 50mm prime lens, giving me the chance to drop the depth of field low enough to single out details within the dish. For the restaurants I used a 16mm wide angle. I love using prime lenses, because it forces you to interact with your subject. Moving closer or farther away makes me more aware of my composition and helps with finding unique perspectives. 

We noticed that you chose to shoot at some really creative angles, can you tell us more about that?

Going into this project, I wanted to give the restaurants life and make my imagery feel like you were experiencing the place first hand. Instead of going for the glamour shot, I wanted the real angle. Before shooting, I walked through each restaurant getting familiar with the environment and looking for the angles that would best describe the space. When looking at the image, I hoped you would feel like you were looking down from the second floor, walking up to the large doors for the first time, or anticipating putting your fork in the beautiful platter set before you. The angles chosen were aimed to give the viewer a new perspective and an inspiration to visit.

How would you recommend photographers approach prospective restaurants? 

I found that utilizing every form of contact gets you the best feedback. I made a list. Putting the website, email, phone, and address, of each restaurant next to the name. Then I tackled it in the same way I organized. I researched the history of the restaurant, which made me more than just “someone on a job” when I took the next step and talked to the management. When it came to contacting, it was all about getting through to the right person. In some cases, showing up and communicating with the employees, leaving your business card, or getting the boss’s contact from the managers, was the best route.

Do you have any feedback on how shooting at the restaurants went or things you'd do differently? 

If I were to do it again, I would have scheduled more time per restaurant. (I shot eight in one day! Eek!) The photo shoots that were the most successful to me where the ones that I took my time and got the whole team involved. It was more fun on set and the photographs came to life, because all the employees wanted to help you promote their company.