Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Jeffrey Green - Viva Las Vegas
Jeffrey Green relies on a minimalist collection of lighting gear and the latest digital cameras to photograph efficiently and to get the shot the first time
There's much to be said for being a big fish in a small bowl. The explosive growth in Las Vegas in recent years has created opportunities for the relatively small group of top-tier pros who live and work there. Jeffrey Green is a multifaceted photographer who has garnered a reputation for getting the shot efficiently and getting it the first time.
Green specializes in interiors, architecturals and food photography—that's a unique combination of skills in a city where restaurants, hotels and mega-mansions abound because clients can hire Green to do the whole job instead of calling on two or three shooters. One of Green's biggest clients is MGM Mirage. Between casinos, hotels, lounges and restaurants, MGM Mirage has a continuous need for new photography of their properties and gastronomic offerings. In today's Las Vegas, these places reinvent themselves constantly, and as they do, new imagery is essential to show would-be guests what they're missing.
A great deal of Green's work finds him on location. The interiors and architectural images are shot in situ obviously, but a large percentage of the food photography is taken at the restaurants as well. This kind of work doesn't afford him the luxury of long setup times for a shot. Food photography is mostly done in a studio with assistants and food stylists, and plate after plate of the same subject is marched out to the set as vegetables wilt and the dish loses its visual appeal. Because of the preponderance of celebrity chefs and their signature restaurants in Las Vegas, Green is usually working directly with the chef instead of a stylist, and he's running the whole shoot in the kitchen or restaurant under the chef's watchful eye. It's not easy to work in that kind of high-pressure environment, and it's one of the reasons why Green has been such a fervent convert to a digital workflow.
Medium-format film cameras were the tools of the trade for Green's type of work, but when he saw the potential a digital workflow offered him for increasing shooting efficiency, he jumped at it. Working now with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, Green says he finds that the digital files are ample for any of his clients' needs. The camera and the lenses make it easy to work fast, and fast is key.
To illustrate the need for speed, on the day we spoke, Green was on his way to photograph two restaurant interiors, along with some food shots at each location. That's a big day.
Says Green, “I do it so often I can get everything set up fast. I use a reasonably compact lighting system, and the digital camera helps me to get in and out in the time they give me. Most of these places don't have a lot of time to have a photographer running around, so I don't have any choice. I have to work fast, and I have a reputation for being able to pull it off.”
While Green makes his home and has made his reputation in Vegas, about half of his work is accomplished out of town these days. The big hotel companies that hire him in Las Vegas tap him for other jobs on a regular basis.
“Next week I'm heading to Mississippi to photograph a new casino,” says Green. “I know how to shoot these kinds of things and the work has been steady. I feel fortunate to have a good list of clients that have a need for my photography. I get a lot of referral work.”