The "Eating Local" food blog started out as a great way visit some amazing New Hampshire restaurants, have an incredible meal, and work on my food photography. But at one New Hampshire restaurant the owner came up to me and asked me what I was doing, and when I told him I was a food photographer shooting for my blog, his excitement and eagerness to read my blog post told me that this little Eating Local blog could be much more. So I started to look for restaurants that were both outstanding local New Hampshire places, but also restaurants that I would love to have as clients.
El Tapatio is a small New Hampshire Mexican restaurant in Merrimack, N.H. that is tucked away in the Pennichuck Square plaza. I had driven by it a few times and decided to try it out. I love great Mexican food, so I was excited by the prospect of a new adventure in flavor. From that first meal, we had an amazing time. The food was rustic and true to genuine Mexican flavor, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful, and the experience overall was outstanding. The one part that stood out for me the most was after I told our waiter that we were doing a food blog and taking pictures, he went through a great deal of effort in plate presentation for our desert that just blew me away. That was service.
So I left my card and let them know they could read the blog on the Earl Studios site in a few days. It wasn't a week later that I received a call from the owner interested in talking with me about shooting their new menu they were preparing. They had done the food photos on their old menu and knew they needed a professional food photographer for this new series, and being that I left my card, they called me about the opportunity. And that really is one of the big reasons behind the Eat Local food blog, turning blog posts into clients.
We picked a date that would work, the owner chose a day that would normally be quiet, and we scheduled the shoot for the lunch time. Now, normally I prefer to shoot when an restaurant is not open, but I understand the constraints of owning a small business, and time is money. Not every restaurant can afford the food and labor costs to open early for a food photoshoot, and understanding and working with the needs of the client is always the most important part of any shoot. My goal is to work with clients on multiple shoots, not just once, and that the photos work to grow their business and enable us to work on future shoots as well.
The final shoot went incredibly well. El Tapatio has some rustic, beautifully worn dark oak tables that are perfect for photos. The only challenge is that they are very glossy, so working with the reflection is important, and combining this with using strobes, it takes a little time to set up, but thats the benefit of working with a professional food photographer. Once I got all the strobes and reflectors setup, white balanced the camera, and set up the props, we were ready to go. The dishes were coming out beautifully and the food photos looked outstanding. Food photography for Mexican food is a challenge because alot of the plate presentation is more flat, and there is not a great deal of height to some of the dishes, so creative camera angles are a must. But their food looks outstanding, their deserts are amazing with the plate presentation, and we were getting the shots that the client loved.
About half way through the shoot, I noticed that there was a bit of a line forming at the door, and although they said that this was usually a quiet day for lunch, I couldn't help notice that the restaurant was starting fill up...fast! I had taken up a spot in the left part of the dining room right in the middle, and slowly all the tables around me were getting full. Come to find out that one of the large corporations down the road had lost power, so almost everyone from there was coming out for lunch. It was great for the restaurant to be so busy, and I love putting on a show when I work, so it was fine for me too.
I think the final food photos looked outstanding, and truly captured the identity of El Tapatio. It is a rustic, true Mexican food restaurant, with an amazing staff of incredible people that make you feel as if you are dining in some ones home, rather than out at a restaurant. I highly recommend you stop in and try everything that they have to offer. Tell them I sent you....i mean, they probably wont know what your talking about but it sounds good.