When we launched Fstoppers back in February, we were working hard to create our own original video content to help kick off our website. After shooting this video, it got buried in my computer before I had time to edit it because we were also working to complete multiple other videos at the same time. I finally had enough free time to finish up this quick food shoot.
I assumed that this video would be very straightforward. We show up, shoot a few plates, and then get out. Little did I know that I would learn a lot about food and even more about business from the well known restaurant owner, Chef Brett Mckee.
We showed up at about 8 pm and Brett showed up a few minutes after us. I asked him what we would be shooting that night and he responded "Whatever the hell you guys want to eat." Brett treated us like we were old college buddies. During the interview, Brett talked candidly about things that most business owners try to keep secret. The Chef told us his ingredients in every dish, tips on managing his employees, acquiring and retaining customers, etc. As the night went on, I slowly started to realize that Brett was going to be the star of this video and that I just needed to let him do his thing.
I left Oak that night with some great food in my belly, solid shots for my portfolio, and another Fstoppers video, but I knew that getting a chance to sit down with Brett was far more valuable. What so many photographers fail to realize is that running a successful photography business has very little to do with photography. Brett also mentions the same thing in the video; "I am a great Chef but better businessman." Whatever product or service you are selling always has some room for improvement, but there is always a huge amount of room for growth in terms of marketing.
Brett has worked to make a name for both himself and his restaurant at the same time, so that when you hear one - it is impossible to not think of the other. As creative professionals, we need to remember that people are hiring us personally. You may have great pictures, but if people don't feel comfortable working with you then they won't hire you. Brett made an impression on me that I will never forget. Even though we will never be able to convey the hours that we spent with him in an 8 minute video, I bet he has made an impression on you as well. I bet that when you are in Charleston, you will eat at Oak and it may not have anything to do with the food. It is because you feel like you now know the owner. What type of first impression do you make on people, especially your clients? I know that I have a lot of room for improvement.
Oh yeah, and remember to light food from the back.