Chef Photographer Speaks on Grant Achatz, Michael Symon

The behind-the-scenes stories behind five portraits.

What would it be like if you were assigned to photograph some of the best chefs in the country? Think Tom Colicchio, Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz, or Andrew Carmellini. For photographers, it happens almost every day, where they’re hit with assignments to capture the personality of someone famous in as little as five minutes.

We chatted with photographer Ethan Hill, the man behind five portraits in Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs All-Star Cookbook, who spent time coming up with concepts for Grant Achatz, Michael Symon, Nobu Matsuhisa, Barbara Lynch, and Wylie Dufresne.

"It was really fun to do. I don’t get to do these kind of projects where it’s a multiple shoot thing that often anymore," Hill told us over the phone. "Inevitably, some shoots are stronger than others, and a 15-minute shoot can be better than a two-hour one. It’s always a gamble."

Each shoot, he tells us, consisted of at least three concepts, usually discussed with editors and drawn out by Hill before the shoot. "My editors on this had already pulled a bunch of ideas with older reference images, and I think the photos ended up being my interpretation of the seed of their ideas," Hill said. "I draw these things out on paper, and I get very nervous doing less than three shoots because sometimes things look good in your head and paper look like sh*t in reality, and I like to cover myself."

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Click through our slideshow to read the stories behind Hill’s five shoots.