Weekly Photo Challenge: Victory (Portrait of Top Chef Canada Winner)

I have been absent from the Weekly Photo Challenge for quite a while, but Krista’s tales of hard work and determination inspired me to dive back in this week with a true mark of victory!

rene rodriguez

I recently had the opportunity to meet and shoot the winner of Top Chef Canada, Rene Rodriguez, owner of Navarra Restaurant in downtown Ottawa. Rene has an amazing look; we share a love of U2; and after hearing that he purchased a motorcycle with some of his contest winnings, I decided to try to model our shoot after a Rolling Stone cover.

Keeping things simple, I shot Rene and his bike in the alley behind his restaurant using a two-light setup. I placed one speed light in a shoot-through umbrella as the main light, and added a second speed light as a kicker to add a rim (or highlight) for some depth and separation.

I had two setups in mind, one featuring Rene front and centre, with his bike behind him and slightly out of focus, and the second with Rene on his bike. I am really happy with the results of the shoot, and even added some coloured gels for interest, but unfortunately I can’t show you the images from this shoot as they are part of a project to be released next spring. However, I can show you a portrait I took of our victorious chef against a fence at the end of the shoot.

The portrait above uses the same two-light setup, an umbrella as the key (or main) light on camera left, and a bare head flash at camera right to add a slight kiss of light on Rene’s left cheek and down his left arm to help separate him from the background.

Rene was a great subject, and obviously very used to having his photo taken since winning Top Chef Canada in 2014. The culinary scene is truly an amazing scene to be a part of, and I have really enjoyed working with a number of different chefs this year. I look forward to working with some more that I have lined up over the next few months.

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22 comments

    1. Correct, the light on the background is natural. I meter in my head, I make my best guess on the camera settings and adjust from there. I can usually get it within two or three tries. It helps to know my camera well, but I’d love to try it with a full frame body so I could produce larger, more detailed shots.

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