We interviewed photographer Alaina Hase on her recent shoot with The Parlour, Yaletown’s go-to pizza restaurant. She describes how she made the already-alluring Parlour even sexier with lighting, framing and product posing. Her photos translate Parlour’s dark, urban vibe while showcasing the pride that goes into their menu.
When we asked the Vancouver-based photographer how she got such dramatic, inviting shots of Parlours food, Alaina laughed, “Pizza’s already sexy on its own.”
When you were first told you would be working on a shoot for The Parlour, what did you think?
AH: I’ve been a big fan of Parlour from the start. There’s been lots of late night editing sessions fueled by their pizza. I’ve got a lot of social connections there as well so I had a good understanding of their vibe. When I found out I was going to be shooting for them, I already believed in the product and loved the space. That motivated me on a personal level to do a good job with their content.
What did you, personally, feel about shooting in this specific space?
When I was meeting with the rest of the AntiSocial team on the project, they reiterated what Parlour was about. It’s a sexy space – the people working there are sexy, the food is sexy… It’s more moody and edgy than a lot of places which was a good opportunity for me to do something that’s very in line with my own personal aesthetic. A lot of past clients have had bright compositions, and it was really exciting to be able to work with more dramatic lighting.
Alaina embodied Parlours character by incorporating darkness into the background of her shots, creating a dramatic pop for the subject she was photographing.
Tell us about your use of lighting for the shoot.
I kept the backgrounds dark and isolated either the dish or action shot by using a single strobe. We did lots of action shots because one of the best things about The Parlour is that they have an open kitchen. It’s part of the romance, you can see your pizza being made.
“Growing up with an Italian grandmother meant making a lot of bread and pizza. I felt genuinely grateful watching people make dough with such pride because I feel very close to that process.” – Alaina Hase, Photographer
AH: Their dough is their pride and joy. And it should be, it takes a really long time to produce perfectly. Watching them work was a crazy experience, they start stretching it and if they notice any imperfection in it – anything at all – they have no qualms with tossing that entire piece away. These guys are serious about their pizza dough.
I took dramatic shots of them sprinkling the flour and working with their hands. I wanted to communicate the tactile experience of someone making dough.
What was it like to watch the chefs work?
Sean, the owner and chef, was the one who was preparing a lot of the dishes. Watching him work with the food… These dishes are his passion, you can tell when he’s working with something. It’s almost like performing a dance, there’s this perfect rhythm to it. It was really cool to see his pride while cooking and that care came through the photos. It meant a lot to him, and I tried to capture that.
How do you think the shoot turned out?
I was really happy with [the photographs]. It was a two-day shoot, a combination of the cooking and preparation, interior shots, and spreads of the food. There’s this one shot of a table completely covered in items, I photographed it while people reaching in to eat… That’s what pizza’s for. It’s about community, it’s about sharing with your friends.
And I think I captured that vibe, it really comes across in the photos.
What about this shoot was different from most?
Something that makes a huge difference in this shoot was the parlours willingness to put their trust in me. For me, when I have that control, that’s when I can really push my creative boundaries. I didn’t feel restricted in any way and often that freedom leads to inspiration.
What was challenging about this shoot?
I was working in a business that was operational at the time, so I had to work around that. It’s not a challenge, exactly, but an awareness, you don’t want to be negatively impacting a patrons experience while you’re there.
But, done the right way it can stir up a positive reaction. We had a table close to the shoot that was so curious about what we were doing. They were asking Sean all these questions about the food and he was telling them about his menu, explaining flavour profiles and inspiration behind dishes… In a sense, it can enhance a customer’s experience.
It’s a good opportunity to share. A photoshoot can start a conversation.