All photographers are chefs. Yes, we have recipes too. Our main ingredients include: shutter, aperture, ISO, focal length, location and lighting. If you are a photographer, I suggest you take note of what your recipes are. If you have multiple recipes, then your portfolio should show it. That is your menu, and each one of your projects should showcase something different, much like how every plate of food a chef makes appeals to different taste buds.
My menu, for example, has several recipes, all of which you can see at the sidebar on the left. My favorite recipes usually involve black and white photos, like LES Skate Park and Street Dance Project. I also enjoy challenging myself, which is why every project I do dives into a new realm I’ve never entered before. It is my version of experimenting in the kitchen, as a chef does, and coming up with new recipes.
Some photographers only have one recipe. Actually, most of the greats really only have one, but that one recipe is amazing! For example: Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh, Nobuyoshi Araki, Irving Penn, Daido Moriyama and Mary Ellen Mark. If you know photography, then you know what I’m talking about. Every single one of these photographers has a very distinct look. They created a recipe unique to themselves, and we can’t get enough of it.
Who knows, you could be like Jiro Ono, who only makes sushi, or David Chang, who likes to mix it up and cooks pretty much everything. Whatever it is, start thinking of yourself as a chef and take note of your dishes. Do you have a crowd favorite? Keep going and build off its success! Or have you been cooking the same way for the past 10 years and nothing seems to hit? Maybe it’s time to sharpen up those knives, try out some new ingredients, and spice things up a bit. Do this enough times and you’ll find that you’ve created a full menu complete with mouthwatering appetizers, entrees, desserts and hey, maybe even some seasonal specials I’m sure your regulars would appreciate.
To all the photographers out there, think of yourselves as chefs. You are more than just an individual taking still images. You are an artisan, experimenting and coming up with delicious new meals you can then share with the world. At least, that’s what I strive toward. After all, what good is it to have a delicious recipe if you’re the only person who gets to eat it? Share your recipes. Share your knowledge. Share your gifts.
I share my photos and continue coming up with different recipes not just to serve my own needs of self-expression, but also to also satisfy your appetite.
My name is Jason Lam, and I’m a chef.
Welcome to my restaurant.
by Jason Lam