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Alan Batt on capturing New York City, The Chef’s Connection And food photography

Alan Batt on capturing New York City, The Chef’s Connection And food photography

Alan Batt began his journey in the photography nearly 25 years back in New York City. He is founder of The Chef’s Connection and has published a plethora of cookbooks with his stellar photography. Small Things Sweet and Small Things Savory are a few of the many.

Alan’s other books which showcase the expertise of world-renowned chefs are The Great Bagel & Lox Book, New York Sweets, Summer in New York, Sandwiches of the World, The Colors of Dessert, and Soup.

He organizes various events for charitable causes including The Children’s Storefront and Action Against Hunger to raise funds.

Highlights of this episode

  • Inspiration for Food Photography
  • The quintessential requisites for good photography.
  • Shooting in New York City. 
  • The lens which Alan uses. 

quotes and takeaway

  • Composition is right behind lighting.  Use a tripod when ever possible. Even if you don’t think you need it.
  • In any business, as much as you want to do something it may not be for you. You have to be good enough to compete. 

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When did you first inclination towards being a photographer? How many years has it been? What inspired you to do food photography?

It was 1981. I was publishing greeting cards, cartoons, and it wasn’t doing well. I had a camera, as everyone else did. So I decided to take pictures of New York City and put them on cards. 20 years later, taking photos of NYC was getting old so I decided to photograph food. I can’t remember why. I am not a “foodie” but it worked.

How did you come up with founding the Chef’s Connection?

I organize a charity event that brings 150 chefs together. Probably more than any other event. You can see the video on The Chef’s Connection of  “The Great Gathering of Chefs”. A friend of mine said I should do something with this group of chefs. The aftermath was the inception of The Chef’s Connection. And here we are! 

You also worked with Bachour’s Simply Studio. How was the experience?

I’ve actually just finished shooting his 5th book. Bachour is the most prolific chef I have ever seen. He makes so many dishes so fast. It’s amazing. He is also one of the nice people I have ever met and he appreciates everyone that helps him. I had a great experience working with him.

Can you tell us five essentials to keep in mind for food photography?

I am not a trained photographer. I am lucky that photography came naturally to me. I use very little equipment and I am the fasted photographer in New York. Lighting is everything. Composition is right behind lighting.  Use a tripod when ever possible. Even if you don’t think you need it. It will make a difference, as small as it is.

What are the smallest subsets which gave you the maximum productivity in Chef’s Connection? How did you build the brand for it?

Because I know so many chefs and am respected by them as much as I respect them that they are happy to work with me. The Chefs Connection is not like any other chef website. They like being involved because it is different.

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Did you have your favorite choices in food photography?

If you mean chefs. I have no favorites. Some chefs are better than others but they all put 100% of their effort into cooking so they are all favorites.

What lenses do you use?

I use a 100mm lens almost exclusively.

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Is there any photographer whose work you look up to?

No one in particular. I admire those that do advertising photography where they are putting together a set that takes an enormous amount of time and patience and a lot of equipment.

Vikas Khana, award winning chef and host of Master Chefs India. He is part owner of Junoon Restaurant in New York.

Vikas Khana, award winning chef and host of Master Chefs India. He is part owner of Junoon Restaurant in New York.

Last but not the least, what is message for fellows who want to pursue photography?

Patience and never give up. The business is not as easy as it used to be. The smart phones have made a lot of people think they are photographers. But there is always room for a good photographer. But also don’t fool yourself. As in any business, as much as you want to do something it may not be for you and maybe you won’t be good enough to compete. I always wanted to be a musician. I’m good but not really good enough (and I couldn’t stay up late).

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