The Daily Edit – Ted Cavanaugh

- - The Daily Edit

Men’s Health

Creative Director: Mike Schnaidt
Deputy Director of Photography: Sally Berman
Deputy Art Director: Raymond Ho
Food Editor: Paul Kita
Food Stylist: Eugene Jho
Prop Stylist: Kaitlyn DuRoss Walker
Photographer: Ted Cavanaugh

Why did you choose that particular chile for the shot?

Our wonderful food stylist Eugene Jho found some pretty amazing dried peppers from all over Manhattan, but in the end, the reason we loved that chili pepper was that it had an insane fiery orange color at the top, and graduated to a more traditional dark amber color at the bottom. I thought this would be perfect on black because it would make the colors that much more vivid.

Did you wear gloves to handle them?
I didn’t, but Eugene certainly did!

Tell us about the water background and liveliness of that shot?
For this image, our concept was showing peppers in liquid, almost as if they were being pickled in a jar. We initially layered the peppers in a large plexiglass tray in water and a white background. It was immediately clear that the water didn’t read as well as we were hoping. In fact, the water was almost invisible.  After a few frames, I realized the white background and the stagnation of the water weren’t working. So, we switched the background to a beautiful blue and made the water as active as possible. To me, the most exciting thing about water is the textures and shapes it can easily create with the right amount of agitation. Part of what I love about working through concepts on set is the spontaneity of it. There can be long discussions beforehand about what the intended outcome is, but in the end, it’s more about the physical limitations of how the subject reacts with the light and the camera’s sensor….you know, physics and stuff.

Did you submit that spread or did the magazine put those two images together?
The wonderful designers at Men’s Health put that spread together.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
When I got the call from Sally, she had some images in which she was drawing inspiration from, but she gave me the go ahead to make really cool pictures. The main focus was absolutely all about hot sauce, so we needed to get a really solid composed photo of all the hot sauces. But after that, we just went wild and got as many different variations of graphic chili peppers in different scenarios as time allowed.

 Refinery 29

Senior Photo Editor: Deb Wenof House
Photo Assistant: Megan Madden
Senior Food Editor: Zoe Bain
Food Stylist: Victoria Granof
Prop Stylist: Megumi Emoto
Photographer: Ted Cavanaugh

What type of creative direction did you get to in order to develop these?
I got an email from the wonderful Deb Wenof House in February regarding a shoot in which they wanted to illustrate the convenience of prepping a meal, freezing it, and having it ready for you when you get home late and are famished. One thing I really love about the ladies at Refinery 29 is that they know their brand very well, and come prepared with a storyboard of how they envision a concept. Deb’s associate, Megan Madden, came up with this dazzling sketch. I enjoy collaboration, so if a client has an idea they would like me to make come to life, I’m all for it. One of my favorite parts of being a still life photographer is being able to turn a vision into an image.
It’s a refreshing take on food prep, what was your creative process, do you sketch?
Luckily that day, I was lucky enough to work with Victoria Granof, she’s a food stylist that is always creative and always creating.  She puts her twist on food and it’s a pleasure to be a part of that. In my creative process, I make sure to stop and observe something that we might have otherwise taken for granted.  I remember a few years ago, in an airport, I noticed how beautiful the lighting was and took note of why. It’s just little things like lighting or textures that I find most inspiring. Part of my DNA is always wondering, always asking weird questions. I think a lot of my daily life is inspired by starting a phrase with, “I wonder if…” or, “I wonder why…” Generally speaking, it’s hard for me to turn creativity on and off. It’s more of me being a quirky, inquisitive person who happens to take pictures as well. A lot of my personal work is actually trying to answer those questions. Lots of caffeine never hurt either. My wife, Chelsea Cavanaugh, who is also a still life photographer, inspires me as well. We work together on every shoot, and she has an amazing vision for composition and styling. Lately, if I’ve been feeling anxious or need to change things up, I do some simple calligraphy on a post it note. Something about the process of calligraphy to me is so relaxing. I’m terrible at it, but it’s relaxing none the less.
How many frames are in the time lapse?
It averaged out to be 70 frames per animation.

For the edit from raw ingredients to fully prepared, did you vacuum seal those and add steam to indicate “process”?
Yes! Our prop stylist Megumi Emoto took a straw and sucked out all of the air in each bag for the animation. The steam was created with a handy little thing called smoke sticks, which I, unfortunately, can only find at a local store in NYC.

Heidi Volpe

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