The typical person spends eight of their 24 hours in a day sleeping, eight more working and commuting, and the last eight managing the household, taking care of family, other miscellaneous errands, which leaves the remaining time for leisure. We live busy lives; so the proliferation of take-out, fast food, and “instant meals” is no surprise, often at the expense of our health and taste… But not all is lost!
Introducing Brittany Baldwin, personal chef and owner of Portland Home Chef, who will provide in-home, cooked-to-order meals based on your personal taste, your dietary restrictions, and of course, what’s in season. Brittany, who classifies her cooking style as “healthy, fresh, from scratch and French-inspired,” was recently featured by Williams-Sonomas a notable personal chef and was highlighted in the Q&A section in Williams-Sonoma’s blog, where she passionately describes using fresh ingredients from her own garden to cater to Portland’s “busy class.”
Brittany’s portraits used in the blog where taken on her half-acre farm by Polara Studio’s food photographer Michael Shay. Michael says, “Brittany is an old friend who I know from the poetry scene. She wanted some photos which reflected her unique journey as a chef but is incredibly nervous in front of the camera. It was my job to make her comfortable and let her warm personality show through. Afterwards she cooked me the most amazing omelet of farm fresh eggs I’ve ever had”
Though Michael didn’t shoot the food shots on Williams-Sonoma’s site, his photographs of this amazing chef are as warm and tasty as her food.
The story about being successful in photography has always been do good work, get it out there, and they will come. What happened to Polara Studio’s food photographer Michael Shay is perhaps a quintessential example of this.
Though Michael spends most of his time shooting food and beverage for clients such as Papa Murphy’s, Ponzi Vineyards, and Pacific Foods, he has been quietly been working on a series of portraits for the World Affairs Councils of Oregon International Speakers Series. Michael has been photographing the event pro bono for almost 10 years. Luminaries have includes such famous names as: Bono, William Jefferson Clinton, even Dan Rather.
However, it wasn’t until 2010 when Polara Studio’s premier videographer Jeremy Dunham showed Michael a series of photographs aptly named “Portraits of Power” by Platon. Michael was inspired and since 2010, his photography focused not just on event coverage, but also portraits of the speakers which have included Nobel prize winners, famous politicians, journalists, and even a former Head of the Federal Reserve.
On his birthday this year, Michael received a call from Time Magazine saying they had noticed his previously unpublished photograph of Karl Rove that was taken during the 2010 International Speakers Series event. Less than two weeks later, it ran as a full-page bleed in this month’s August 2012 Time Magazine and featured in the online version on Time Magazine’s webpage.
Michael says, “Fifteen years ago I was shooting a lot more fashion and people photography than I do now. It’s nice to see that someone who is primarily a food photographer can still get his work recognized on a national level. Best Birthday Present ever!”
Portland, P-town, The City of Roses, Rip City, Stumptown — there are many names for our city, but how would you characterize it? It may be difficult to define in words, but on May 19th, the “PDX Squared” photography event defined our city in images.
Hosted by the Oregon chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers, 49 photographers, including Polara’s Michael Shay and Derrin Battles, joined the PDX Squared contest to document the essence of Portland culture. The rules were simple: 1 square mile of downtown Portland divided into forty-nine quadrants, one quadrant per photographer. Photographers shot through the day in Architectural, Portrait, Documentary, and Lensbaby categories.
Derrin’s quadrant started from the SW base of the Hawthorne bridge down to Morrison and up to 3rd. While his quadrant lacked iconic landmarks and pedestrian hangouts, Derrin focused on capturing a slice of everyday working Portland. True to the Portland spirit, Derrin traveled his quadrant on bike and for his Portlandia series, even attached his camera to his bike frame and photographed while cruising the city. For his Architectural entries, Derrin captured skyscrapers framed by the greenery of lush, leafy trees – a natural coexistence that makes our city what it is.
Conversely, Michael staked his ground at the convention center and instead of searching for subjects, the subjects came to him. With the help of Michele Mitchell, one of Michael’s fellow board member and Art Institute of Portland student, Michael spent hours shooting portraits of passerbys against a canvas background which expressed an urban feel. After a little coercing, Michael was given permission and photographed his new-found subjects which ranged from mom and the kids to a runner to even a guy with his four-legged friend. What better way to describe our city than to document the people (and pets) that live in it?
So, while out-of-towners may continue to pronounce our state “ORYGUN,” with a glimpse of these PDX Squared photos, they will forever know what Portland is all about.
Dance photography presents many of the same challenges as dancing itself. With difficult lighting conditions and transitory moments, dance photography takes a unique combination of technical skill, quick reflexes, and dedication by both dancer and photographer to capture such dynamic movements in one frame.
When Jim Lykins first contacted Polara to encourage us to submit to the “Portland, Dancing” photography exhibit, he raved about an image in the 2011 calendar Derrin Battles had taken for Bodyvox of Ashley Roland hoisting her partner, Jamie Hampton, on her shoulders as one of the finest example of strength in a female dancer he had ever seen. Photographers Michael Shay, Jeremy Dunham, Derrin Battles, Steve Cherry and Jay Lawrence were all honored to have been asked. Images from the Bodyvox 2010 calendar, which were shot at multiple, iconic locations in Portland, were selected and submitted to this fusion of photographic and dance artistry.
The show, which showcases these images from 2010, runs until May 31st at the Portland Center of the Performing Arts gallery. So stop by to see the results of this most natural collaboration between two of Portland’s most outstanding creative communities, dance and photography.
While you’re at it, the images here are from this year’s calendar — the result of a fun three-way collaboration between Bodyvox, Polara Studio and many of the best-known illustrators from Portland’s thriving comic scene.
Multnomah County receives 15,000 reports of child abuse annually. Children’s Relief Nursery provides parents and children a connection to a healthier lifestyle. Every year they do a great fundraiser called the “Iron Chef” competition. As Polara’s main food photographer, my crew and I tried to help by photographing many of the talented chefs who donated their time to this great cause. We were also charged with creating an iconic image that spoke about competition and food to be used on their main website and postcard. Art Director and all around creative person, Michelle Bexelius brought this project to us as one of her pro bono clients.
The conundrum was to both tell the story of the competition and still be respectful to the cause. Along with the help of our great creative team food stylist, Lucy Radys, we came up with the image below – two chefs arm wrestling over a plate of food. (Thanks to Steve Cherry, one of Polara’s founding partners and photographer, for modeling.)
It was also exciting to collaborate with some top chefs from restaurants like Acadia, Screen Door and Davis Street Tavern. We began with Adam Higgs from Acadia, who is the other main competitor. For the photo geeks in the crowd, I used battery powered Speedotron packs to overpower the natural light and by manipulating the color balance was able to magically turn warm day into cool night. I was also trying to create a color palette to be used throughout all the photographs for this project, uniting visually all the chefs at all their different locations.
Next came Rick Dwidmayer at Screen Door who was as nice and relaxed a person you could find especially considering he was in the middle of preparing for another busy night.
Finally I was given the chance to photograph Chef Gavin at Davis St. Tavern. Since it was pouring down rain that day we had to shoot inside but with a careful choice of angle we were able to get another great image that fit well in the series.
Adam Higgs is one of the competitors in the Iron Chef while Rick and Gavin are competing for the People’s Choice Award. The People’s Choice Award is a “pre-qualifier” for competing for the Iron Chef for next year. They will be competing against the winner of the 2012 award. I want to thank everyone who donated their time from Polara, producer and client services manager Kasey Huber, food stylist Lucy Radys and Steve Cherry and, of course, Creative Director, Michele Bexelius who made this all possible.
Here are all images of the chefs as a triptych like on the studio wall…