All The Dumb Things

A cautionary tale in development

Mark at work

Posted by razzbuffnik on August 12th, 2008

I dropped in on my friend, Mark who is a chef and took a few pictures of him today.


Related Posts

Mark and Sonia

Only bad people get attacked by animals

9 Responses to “Mark at work”

  1. Epicurienne Says:

    Wow. That is one serious chef. What was he making when you dropped by? Juggling sauces? Searing tuna? Putting his signature stamp on a complicated chicken dish? It’s lunchtime here and this photo has made me hungry.
    Where does he cook?
    Great pic, BTW. Now he just needs a cookbook to put it on.

  2. Pat Coakley Says:

    Powerful stance and face and yet it’s that blue pen catches my eye!

  3. razzbuffnik Says:


    Actually he kept on smiling and I told him to stop. I prefer portraits to be a bit more serious as I think it shows a lttle more of his character. Mark is fairly quiet guy, a bit of a thinker.

    He’d already finished up for the day (he runs a private hospital kitchen) when I turned up and we just hung out, shooting the breeze for an hour or two. Mark and I go way back and he’s also into photography. The reason why I dropped by was to return a lens he had kindly lent me.

    Mark is the friend who is getting married in November and I helped him out with trailing various Indian dishes for his wedding.

    Just cooking for 20 was bad enough but Mark is expecting 250 at his reception. Mark has finally allowed himself to be talked out of cooking the food for the wedding, by his wife and mother-in-law to be. I told him he’d go out of his mind if he tried to do it as well.


    Ah yes, the dangers of colour. I might just desaturate the blue if I make a print out of the shot.

  4. Turkish Prawn Says:

    Iron Chef?


  5. nathaliewithanh Says:

    Cute p’tit mec! I’m with Pat on that one. I think desaturating the blue would be appropriate and taking out the piece of pan on the left. I would also curve the left top part down as well as the visible arm, and curve up the eyes, then you could take out the wrinkles between his eyes and stick back his left ear to his head. I’m just kidding. Nice expression. Nice portrait. I would print it for him: when you are a photographer, you never have photos of yourself.

    When I made the album for my mom’s 75th birthday, I spent hours photoshopping some of her wrinkles out. Of course I did not tell her. After she saw the album, she told my brother it would have been nice if I had helped nature a little bit… You can’t win!

  6. Pat Coakley Says:

    For what it’s worth, I wasn’t noticing the pen in a critical way. It made me think about his profession, actually. Writing orders, signing invoices, all while he’s juggling pots and pans.

  7. razzbuffnik Says:


    In a non-defensive way I’d like to explain what I did and why.

    There is a lot of manipulation (about an hour) in this shot but I left a few things so it didn’t look manipulated.

    No, I’m not joking.

    One time the great art dealer Leo Castelli once asked Any Worhol why he had a few paint drips in his otherwise perfect paintings of Campbell’s soup tins, Andy replied, “so you can see that it is a painting”. I’d like to think that such portraits will look natural. For other types of shots I’m happy to make the manipulation obvious.

    The left ear was sticking way out like Clark Gable’s and I pulled it in back to about a half of it’s real size. I’ve removed ears before but you’d be surprised that people who understand anatomy (I have doctor and artist friends) will know it missing and I’ve been caught out before. Bastards!

    I totally got rid of all the wisps of hair that were sticking out on his left as well. I left the handle on the pan because I wanted it to read as a pan so it would add to placing mark within context. I do agree that it is a little distracting.

    I’ve also blurred the background a little.

    I like the wrinkles on the brow because it adds to emotional depth of the photo. The expression is not straight forward and I’m sure that people (who think about the image they look at) will get a little more out of the shot if they have a few other things to engage with.

    I also desaturated the colour a bit to help give the shot a little more of a sombre look. I wanted to show a quiet and complex guy looking back at the viewer in a way that makes the viewer feel as they are being appraised just as the viewer appraises the subject.

    I’ve been thinking a lot over the last couple years about how the camera can cause a reaction in the subject. I love seeing that questioning look on people’s faces as they look back at the viewer.

    I think that pat’s right about the colour of the pen. I was a bit “target fixated” on the rest of the shot that I over looked it.

    I’m lucky, I only do this stuff for myself. I don’t have to cater to a paying client that expects flattery.


    I wasn’t offended. I take it for granted that you mean no harm. And you know me, I’m too insensitive to notice if you did anyway!

  8. brooks Says:

    Nice portrait, though I can’t stop seeing the resemblance to Steve Carrell.

  9. Pat Coakley Says:

    I loved hearing how you set this photograph up. In a way is it the same motivation you have in cooking a meal for this friend as well as with this friend? Attention to detail and wanting to get it just right.

    Whilst I’m setting this record straight, let me add one more thing. Although I believe all of us can do harm unintentionally and, on some occasions, with intention, I don’t see you as incapable of noting the difference.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>