My Goal? Your Success

The Collaboration – La Rosa and Steve (Stephen La Rosa Michelin trained Chef and Steve the photographer)

Engaging in collaborations allows me to explore new dimensions in my photography, transcending the routine client work that dominates my professional life. Despite the pride I take in delivering top-notch images to clients, I found myself gradually neglecting the pure joy of capturing photos for personal fulfillment as my career advanced.

In a fortuitous turn of events last year, I connected with Chef and content creator Stephen La Rosa. Beyond sharing a common first name, we discovered a mutual passion for visually capturing the essence of food. Recalling our joint endeavor in a magazine shoot years ago, I sensed an opportunity to revive my creative spark for food photography captured with a different approach. I proposed a coffee meetup to discuss a potential collaboration, and to my delight, La Rosa accepted. Serendipitously, a power outage at the café led us to relocate to his apartment, conveniently located just doors away from my own.

Our fast-formed friendship kindled excitement about working on a passion project, an opportunity to break free from the constraints of client briefs and embark on a creative photoshoot.

The Concept

Numerous meetings were invested in shaping a concept and sorting logistical details, such as ingredients, tableware, and props. La Rosa envisioned highlighting Lampuki, a cherished local fish in two distinct preparations  – raw and cooked. For the raw dish, La Rosa shared a captivating image of concept arranged like a tree, aiming to recreate this visually striking presentation with pieces of raw cured fish. He proposed incorporating a handthrown plate by his friend Sue Mifsud and locally produced Bidni olive oil from MCA, adding a broad bean shoyu for an extra layer of flavor, courtesy of his friend Keith Abela.

Opting for sustainability, I suggested featuring the whole tail of the fish for the cooked dish, exposing some bone. Unfortunately, the original plan to include the head and bone in the middle had to be adjusted due to the fish’s size limitations. This course would be complemented by seasonal produce from Ta Guzman Organic Farm, with a backdrop of natural stone tiles from SOLL – Natural Stone Warehouse, offering a textured alternative to the typical plate.

Despite multiple meetings, and shoot postponements due to other work commitments, we eventually had a date set and a solid plan in place.

The Shoot

Devoting almost an entire day to the project, we began with preparations for the last-minute secured Lampuki from Bottarga fish shop. While La Rosa readied the fish, I set up my studio and assisted in transferring ingredients and set pieces to my home studio.

Collaborating on the shoot approach, we discussed compositions while reviewing the reference camera monitor. Plating the first dish on the backdrop of natural stone, we fine-tuned each component’s placement, capturing the process meticulously.

Moving on to the second dish, we repeated the meticulous process, layering slices of raw fish to create a tree-like arrangement. Surrounding the plate with olive branches, we aimed to tell the story of the olive oil’s origin. The shoot involved careful adjustments and endless second-guessing to achieve a natural and untouched appearance. Experimenting with variations, including ultra-closeup shots, allowed us to explore different levels of detail.

Packing up by 6 pm, we reviewed the footage and organized it for post-production. Quick edits revealed promising images, and with some tweaks, we achieved our final results.


The Results

Focusing on detailed and well-lit shots during the shoot minimized post-processing efforts. In post-production, I worked on color balance, selective adjustments, contrast enhancements, and imperfection removal to accentuate the fish’s beauty, showcasing their scales and textures. For a more in-depth appreciation, higher resolution images or detailed crops are recommended.

As a blend of art and technical skill, photography benefits from experimentation and staying informed about the latest tools and trends. Both Steve La Rosa and I were incredibly satisfied with the end result. More importantly, it was a shared experience that brought our day-to-day professionalism and quality into a passion project, where collaboration and mutual learning thrived.

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