Shooting Zio Toto

On a cold January evening Kristina Gershteyn and I were invited to one of Staten Island's latest Italian restaurants. The management of Zio Toto restaurant was looking to enter the social media pool of our community. They felt that some of the photographs that were circulating on the internet did not do this Italian culinary boutique justice. I wanted to see if I can change that perspective.

I am always up for an interesting challenge, but as soon as I walked through the door I saw about 250 possible shots that I can do. The owner did not hold back on any monetary or design efforts to make this place look stylish and contemporary. Everything from the well lit bar, to the real firewood oven, made the place uniquely cosy and welcoming. At this point of my photographic experience I love the fact that I am given such an amazing opportunity to be able to photograph an amazing space. At the same time I often hate the fact that I don't have access to about $5000 worth of lighting equipment a full range of Canon L lenses and maybe an assistant or two. When that comes to mind I always calm myself down and concentrate on working with what I have. That is the most important thing that a photographer can do. The only way that a photographer can become better is to utilize his/her knowledge. Sure the equipment is nice and helpful, but if you don't have the drive or the right setting, all of that is useless. That is why I am very thankful for what I am able to work with right now. 

It was a Tuesday night, and the restaurant was not as packed as it would be on the weekend. I tried to take full advantage of that by strapping on my Canon 10-22mm lens. I wanted to be able to show off the entire perspective in all the shots. It was important to be able to show off the hardwood floors together with the amazing ceiling in the same shot. I think that I was able to do a pretty good job on the angles. I really wanted to keep it natural to what a patron would have as his point of view. Sometimes I want to shift the camera and get down to a really awkward angle, but I didn't think that it would be a great idea at the time.   

When I was done with the wide shots, I was ready for the food. It was too late for me to eat (that's another story for another time), but the chef prepared some amazing dishes for me to photograph. That is when my urge for light, soft boxes and backgrounds really made itself known, but shooting the food really should be a planned event and I would rather do it during the day, so I think I did OK with just the camera and a tripod. Playing around with perspectives to avoid shadows really was the most important thing that I could do. The hardest part was being around the amazingly beautiful and deliciously smelling works of art, and not being able to sample some.

Then we moved on to the bar. The full bar. The light at the bar was much cooler than in the dining area, I really took my time setting up some of the drinks that were made for my camera. Symmetry and color came into play there.  

Here is the gallery from that night. Right away, I see things that I should improve on. I would really like to see some comments and suggestions for me to improve on what I did. 

As always, stay in touch with Staten Island Lifestyle for a full coverage and review of this great restaurant that is bound to become one of Staten Island's gems.