Thu. Nov 26th, 2020

The Portrait Kitchen creates photography in the comfort of their own home.

When most people open their kitchen to the public, it’s because they want to offer their tasty cuisine. That’s not the case for Jon and Anjee. A married couple based in the UK, this photography duo instead open their kitchen to shoot portrait sessions for their clients. Aptly named The Portrait Kitchen, the work the pair produce in their studio is of an excellent standard. Looking at the work, one would never know it was created amongst rolling pins and Britain’s finest china (we assume). And although the idea wasn’t born out of our current times, for anyone who is still stuck at home, the work made in The Portrait Kitchen will inspire you to be more creative in your own abode.

Gear for Portrait Photography

Home studios are not uncommon. However, for the most part, they tend to be in a spare room fully dedicated to making photos. Asked why their kitchen became the center of their photography business, the pair told The Phoblographer, “We shoot from our kitchen because we wanted to keep operational costs low i.e. not have an overhead of a studio.” It also works best for their style and aesthetic. “Our style is close crop so a milliner’s work is the main part of an image. Shooting full length would give the viewer other things to look at as well as the hat.”

One would think that, in order to make such a transformation in their kitchen, a lot of gear and accessories are used. “ Our whole ethos is KISS; keep it simple stupid,” says Jon. In their hand is a workhorse in the form of the Nikon D600. And it’s paired with either the Nikkor 50mm or 85mm, ideal focal lengths for portrait photography. Behind the subject is a series of paper rolls. In relation to how effective the rolls are to the portraits they create, Jon and Anjee say, “Using paper rolls can complement the hat colors as well as neutralize the background.”

Lighting for Portrait Photography

To light their subjects, again, they keep it simple. Using only one light source, the couple uses a beauty dish with a Speedlight, or to mix things up they use a hair or rim light.

“We don’t shoot in natural light. We control the light through low ISO (100), high shutter speed (1/160) and aperture at about f/11. The light is all controlled through fill using the beauty dish. this method creates drama and a sense of glamour.”

— Jon & Angee

As for post production, most of it is done in Lightroom. That said, Jon is quick to point out it’s what happens in the studio that’s most important, “I do do some post processing but aim to capture 85% of what I need in the first capture.”

Finding Inspiration

Every photographer has at least one person that inspires them. For Jon and Anjee, it’s some of the true masters of the field that helped shape their current style:

“Inspirations are people like Norman Parkinson with his rich glamorous style of a forgotten age of glamour. It is the same with Irwin Blumenfeld who was very experimental. But we love the portrait work of Marco Grob and how he minimizes the portrait and creates a tremendous connection with his celebrity sitters. We like to shoot so the viewer connects with the hat through its wearer.”

— Jon & Angee

Most of the subjects that walk through the doors of The Portrait Kitchen tend to be female – especially when shooting for a millinery client. This is where the dynamic of the couple really shows its strength. “Providing photography with my wife at our home gives a real sense of coziness and authenticity and we provide a safe and secure setting.” Jon adds, “All of our models are paid for their time and we have built up a pool of ladies who know how to emote in a way that suits couture millinery.”

Finding Their Niche

Unlike most photographic genres, millinery photography isn’t over saturated. For this reason, plus their connection with glamour and fashion, Jon and Anjee chose to pick up the camera and run with it. “ If we could give a photographer two pieces of advice it would be to choose a niche and enjoy yourself. The problem with doing weddings, newborns or street photography, is that they are very crowded spaces with lots of photographers.”

Focusing on their niche has allowed them both to become experts of the craft. That’s why their business is so successful and their clients trust the work they do. Unlike other product photographers, they use the human form to bring their garment to life.

“With millinery photography, we see it as part product part portrait. The product has to come first because milliners commission us to make their hats stand out and be desirable. Traditionally most millinery photography has been done on a hat stand. We prefer to use models as this ‘humanizes’ the hat.”

— Jon & Anjee

You can enjoy more work from The Portrait Kitchen by visiting the official website.

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