Thursday December 20th, 2012 08:45 AM
Just as in fine cooking, in photography many ingredients need to come together just right to produce good results. And perhaps one of the most overlooked is preparation. With good planning even the most daunting assignments can be fun and creative.
In the days before Ferran Adrià’s visit to La Rioja I read articles and watched videos about him and his Bulli Foundation. Having got a bit of an idea about the man, I made sure I got to the first location, at Hotel Marquès de Riscal, an hour before he did. This gave me time to come up with not just one but three possible locations for the group shot of Ferran with the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant team. And it meant that when the hotel bosses vetoed my first choice location as too far away, I didn’t panic; I had a plan B which resulted in the photo below.
The main reason for Ferran’s visit to La Rioja was to give the final talk in the Somos Capital series marking the end of Logroño’s stint as gastronomic capital of Spain. Over the past year more than a dozen of the country’s most distinguished chefs (with 27 Michelin stars between them) have given talks at Francis Paniego’s Tondeluna restaurant in Logroño. I’ve photographed most of them so know the restaurant well. But I still wanted to arrive with enough time to visualise the photos beforehand. I knew where Ferran would be speaking so I got on a chair and swivelled two ceiling lights towards the spot. And voila!! The above photo and many in the following gallery are the result of that couple of minutes of preparation.
Thursday November 29th, 2012 10:16 AM
Sports stars, successful artists and business leaders famously have it and so too, it seems to me, do the winemakers I’ve been visiting over the past couple of weeks. The ‘it’ I’m referring to is devotion to what they do.
I’ve been photographing a number of them for Diario La Rioja’s annual wine supplement. At Marqués de Riscal in Elciego, Javier Salamero spoke with tenderness & love about the historic wines on offer. Of course you could argue that he was preaching to the converted as the photo above seems to suggest.
In San Vicente de la Sonsierra I found two mega construction projects. Jose Manuel de Bodegas Viña Ijalba has flattened the top of a sizeable hill by 10m to make a plateau on which he has planted grape varieties from all over the world.Nearby Marcos Eguren has excavated a laberinth of huge tunnels to provide storage for the Sierra Cantabria winery that is being constructed above.
And in Samaniego I watched as Fernando Remírez de Ganuza, who makes some delicious wines, went mosquito hunting. It reminded me of a Monty Python sketch but underlined his dedication to the cause. And made a nice photo too!
Thursday June 7th, 2012 03:26 PM
Hotel Marqués de Riscal in Elciego, Euskadi, is a lovely place to photograph a wedding, what with the stunning architecture and beautiful location to name but two of its delights. Every time I go, part of the fun is to find new angles and approaches. It’s the sort of place that never ceases to stimulate.
That said, when I looked back over the photos of Raquel & Javier’s wedding, there was one photo that really thrilled me; and it didn’t have any of the Riscal architecture in it. Or even the wedding couple.
It was the one above of a little boy sitting on the carpet playing with his toy (or more likely his father’s or mother’s) while the adults celebrated all around. At any wedding there are multiple stories taking place at any given time and I’m always on the look out for them. This is not the sort of photo that will be at the front of the album but it adds intrigue, detail and depth to my coverage.
The couple’s feedback:
We’ve received the book of photos and we love it.
Thanks for everything,
Raquel & Javier
Wednesday April 11th, 2012 12:09 PM
When Tom Puyaubert asked me to photograph Bodegas Exopto, I wanted to show something of his passion for wine. Here is a man who swapped France for La Rioja and who loves it so much that he founded his own winery. Tom’s grapes come from one of the most picturesque parts of the region: The slopes around Ábalos. The scenery and the early morning light made for beautiful photos without need for much intervention by me.
But Tom’s winery is in a unit on an industrial estate in Laguardia. How could I show the soul of the enterprise and quality of the product in such a sterile place? The answer is through the clever use of light. In the above picture the backlighting gives a richness and purity to the grape juice. In the first photo below I wanted to cast Tom as a magician at his cauldron so I put a flash inside the vat. The white flash light turned purple when it bounced off the grapes and illuminated Tom’s face.
I also wanted to give a sense that wonderful wine can be made in the most unlikely of places and that is why I like the photo taken outside the open door showing just a hint of what goes on inside. The old wooden vats are wonderfully photogenic. I added to the warmth of the scene by using remote flashes covered in orange gel.
Light and composition are key to good photography but the value of thinking and planning shots beforehand should never be underestimated.
Thursday March 29th, 2012 12:17 PM
Over recent weeks some of Spain’s most prestigious chefs, including Paco Morales and Andoni Luis Aduriz, have given talks at Francis Paniego and Luisa Barrachina’s Tondeluna restaurant in Logroño.
Last night was the turn of Juan Mari Arzak, the grand maestro credited with bringing Basque cooking to world attention. Andoni and Francis learnt their craft with Arzak. Without him, Mugaritz and Tondeluna probably wouldn’t exist.
Arzak spoke about everything from his first restaurant to the lunch he served for the Queen of England. And his best tip? It doesn’t matter how good the food is or how exquisite the recipe, if it’s served on a cold plate at the wrong temperature, it’s no good.
I’ve put a gallery with more photos here.