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.