Robson-Sakaba VanVan Izakaya Photoshoot

I don't often take photographs for/of restaurants but with my recent interest in the art of cooking and food-making AND when I saw that a friend of mine was opening up a Japanese Izakaya restaurant and I said to myself "why not?". 

A lot of times, when I think of restaurant photographs, I think of food photos showing the food... and really, that's about it. Here's what you can eat. Thanks. And... that's all the photos really tells you.

As a documentary photographer, I felt I could add another dimension to the usual photographs of just food images and go beyond just food photographs. In this case, I wanted to photograph the "essence" of this Japanese Izakaya and tell their story. You see, an Izakaya in Japan is not just a a food place. It's also a place to hang out with some friends, have some great food and drinks and have a great time together, all the while trying out some very interesting Japanese food items that the kitchen comes up with. It's very social.

So the challenge here was to not just take photographs of the food but to also to convey the essence of the Izakaya through the photographs and hopefully allow you to experience a restaurant on more than "just" the food. 

This was taken just moments before the doors opened and some customers came in to try out this new Izakaya!

This was taken just moments before the doors opened and some customers came in to try out this new Izakaya!

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It was really cool to see all the staff working together as a team. Here they cheer each other on before the oncoming dinner rush.

It was really cool to see all the staff working together as a team. Here they cheer each other on before the oncoming dinner rush.

Most of the time, we delete blurry photos this like. However, in this case, I took a step back and saw my friend's smile outshining the lack of "technical perfection" of the photograph. It's one of my personal favorites. 

Most of the time, we delete blurry photos this like. However, in this case, I took a step back and saw my friend's smile outshining the lack of "technical perfection" of the photograph. It's one of my personal favorites. 

People were actually eating as I took these photos. I was practically a few feet away from them. I apologized in advance and did my best to let them continue eating and conversing. Thankfully they were OK with me photographing the food (no close-up, 1-inch-from-food-macro shots). Being polite and courteous when you have to butt in on someone's meal is VERY important not just for being a documentary photographer but also... it's just good manners :)

People were actually eating as I took these photos. I was practically a few feet away from them. I apologized in advance and did my best to let them continue eating and conversing. Thankfully they were OK with me photographing the food (no close-up, 1-inch-from-food-macro shots). Being polite and courteous when you have to butt in on someone's meal is VERY important not just for being a documentary photographer but also... it's just good manners :)

I focused on using the natural light and also the shadows to give you a sense of what the restaurant looks like. Part of the appeal of this Izakaya is the environment that you are in. Lighting plays an important part in this even if you're just sitting and eating.

I focused on using the natural light and also the shadows to give you a sense of what the restaurant looks like. Part of the appeal of this Izakaya is the environment that you are in. Lighting plays an important part in this even if you're just sitting and eating.

Here I'm taking an image a distance away. What I tried to capture was the essence of engaging with another human being ... and food and drinks seems to do a fantastic job of that. :)

Here I'm taking an image a distance away. What I tried to capture was the essence of engaging with another human being ... and food and drinks seems to do a fantastic job of that. :)

Blue flame torch on a slab of fish? Nice!

Blue flame torch on a slab of fish? Nice!

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I managed to get this image without drawing any attention to myself. Part of it was probably due to the table staff eventually getting used to me moving around a lot and taking photographs from every angle.

I managed to get this image without drawing any attention to myself. Part of it was probably due to the table staff eventually getting used to me moving around a lot and taking photographs from every angle.

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The kitchen in action with my friend at the helm.

The kitchen in action with my friend at the helm.

Taking orders!

Taking orders!

The dishware at this Izakaya caught my attention. Having recently read the manga comic "Oishinbo", I've begun to realize the importance of the art of dishware in Japanese culture. I have to admit that, in my times photographing the food and even eating the food, there appeared to be a deliberate choice in dishware that seems to compliment the style and type of food you're being served. 

The dishware at this Izakaya caught my attention. Having recently read the manga comic "Oishinbo", I've begun to realize the importance of the art of dishware in Japanese culture. I have to admit that, in my times photographing the food and even eating the food, there appeared to be a deliberate choice in dishware that seems to compliment the style and type of food you're being served. 

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Images were shot with ALL Pentax cameras, utilising a combination of film in 35mm format, 645 format in black and white film and color film. Digital was also used, utilising the Replichrome film presets.

I used a Pentax PZ1-P film SLR camera with a Voigtlander 40mm F2 Ultron lens (K Mount), Pentax 645 film camera with 645 55mm F2.8 lens and my Pentax K7 digital SLR utilizing the DA 21 F3.2 Limited lens and the DA*55 F1.4 lens.

Funny story: I was actually surprised that some of these last images in color survived. You see, I opened the back of my film camera thinking I had rewound it. Instead, I opened it and exposed it so some really harsh light!  NOOOOOO!
Surprisingly, most of the images seemed to have survived and, in fact, I think the effect on the film worked in my favor :)