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  • Matthew Peake

The Open Fire Gourmet

Natural light food photography for off-road adventurer, The Man Called Yeti.



Food is one of the hardest subjects to photograph, especially when under a time constraint. Most photographers that shoot food specialize in it... I only dabble.

But when my good friend, social influencer and off-road nomad The Man Called Yeti asked me to do some photography for his new open fire cook book, I jumped at the chance.

Food is one of the hardest subjects to photograph, especially when under a time constraint. Most photographers that shoot food specialize in it... I only dabble.”

The first shoot was during a small snow storm in central Iowa when Yeti decided to create one of the best meals I have ever eaten. Being based in the middle of farm country, everything was locally sourced, well everything but the Jack Daniels of course. I photographed the preparation and preparing of the meal in real time, using only the natural light of the waning sun under heavy cloud cover.




Creating a delectable look

Yeti and I have been friends for years and I have done quite of few photo and video shoots for him over the years. Most of the shoots were based around the amazing off-road creations he has made for his company Yeti Built, but this shoot was quite different. Instead of V8 engines and meaty tires, it was garden fresh carrots and locally harvested venison.


Long before Yeti was a fabricator he was a cook. His creations on a grill are just as great as his creations in a garage. Over the course of an hour he created one of the most savory meals I have ever had, bacon wrapped medallions and whiskey roots.


Making food look appetizing is no small feat especially when you don't do it everyday. But we had amazing soft natural light creating subtle cool tones, making it feel like lyrics right out of a Joni Mitchell album. One reason I decided to shoot this series with natural light and an ultra-shallow depth of field was to create a more natural and brisk feeling.

Yeti worked silently, as I used a manual focus 85mm tilt/shift lens and maneuvered around his peeling and salting.


As the food was cooked the colors of the carrots and meat turned from a drab purple and a muted orange to more lively saturated colors. As the color brightening the depth of field opened up, creating a progression from beginning to end. The shoot crescendo came when we decided to create our final image on a red oak tree cookie placed in the freshly fallen snow. Though I rarely photograph food, I was blessed with everything falling into place and at the end of the day, a full belly.





#foodphotography #farmtotable #venison #naturallightphotography #openfirecooking

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© 2020 by Matthew Peake