Photo Of The Week: Pizzaiola At Porta Restaurant, Asbury Park, NJ

From Shutter: This week’s photo of the week is of Freddi Vilardi, Pizziaiola of Porta Restaurant in Asbury Park, NJ.

I recently was doing a story for The Record, of Bergen County, NJ, As regular readers of this blog know, among her many hats, Spoon is the food editor there.  Most of my work with The Record is for a column she and I do on new cookbooks and a recipe.  However this assignment was on new dining spots along the Jersey shore.

This photo is an out take from the shoot at Porta, a funky, hipster (in all the good ways) restaurant that specializes in amazing Neapolitan pizzas.  It’s more Portland, Maine, than typical Jersey and I fell in love with the place as soon as I walked in. After shooting the food, I decided I needed to shoot a series of photographs of Freddi Vilardi.  As I looked around for locations in this cavernous eatery, full of great quirky decor, I saw the large American Flag.  I immediately thought of one of my idols, Gordon Parks and his famous photo of the African American janitor from 1942 titled, “Janitor in front of the flag”.

I would never compare myself to brilliant Gordon Parks, but I find inspiration and aspiration from his work.  So, instead of a broom, I had Freddi with a pizza peel with the flag in the background.

Unlike many of my photos I feature as “Photo of the Week” that have lots of technical and lighting details and information to share, this one was pretty straightforward.  It was simply my trusty Nikon D700, 28-70 f/2.8 lens and the ability to shoot at ISO 1200 with an auto white balance.  I could have set up lighting but, I wanted to emulate my inspiration from Gordon Parks and went with available light.  Although my camera holds up well at higher ISO’s I did not want to risk any noise, especially in the shadow detail.  So at f/2.8 and 1/20th of a second I shot away.

Freddi was kind and patient, despite having to get to a meeting and get ready for evening service.  I wanted to be both respectful of her time, and drawing inspiration from Mr. Parks, I acted as if I was shooting file and fired off only 6 frames.

The resulting image above is my favorite from the small series.  The image is pretty much straight out of the camera with the addition of a few post production tweaks in both Photoshop and Lightroom. After importing the images from my memory card into Lightroom, I adjusted my color balance to add some warmth, opened up the shadows a bit.  I then exported the images and opened them in Photoshop where I adjusted the curves, retouched any small issues, and this is the end result.

On June 17th the story about new restaurants along “The Jersey Shore” (please ignore any inference to the god forsaken show with the same name), will be in The Record Travel section.

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