It All Begins With An Assignment
I will be the first to admit that I'm a foodie. I love Nashville's food scene. Since I became fascinated with food in 2006 the Nashville food scene has grown at an astonishing pace. I have seen amazing restaurants come and go. I currently have a hard time keeping up with all of the new restaurants that are opening in Nashville. I'm a food photographer who shoots on location a lot and I'm constantly going to new restaurants on assignment, plus going to new restaurants for lunch and dinner, and I can't keep up with all the new restaurants. So when I got the opportunity to photograph several of the restaurants for Nashville Lifestyles Best Burgers edition I jumped at the opportunity. I was totally jazzed to be photographing burgers from four of Nashville best burger joints.
Sometimes story assignments are complex. Sometimes they take forever to decipher what the editor wants. In this case, it was super simple. The photo editor wanted outstanding burger shots as both verticals and horizontals for the story. Sometimes, you will also take photos that are personal "I want this to be" photos, I took several on this assignment, and got really lucky with the shot of the Greg Brady Burger from Jack Browns. I really wanted that photo to be a double truck spread. I got lucky and it was!
My Approach to Best Burgers Editorial Food Photos
I approach all of my assignments with an open mind. I go into an assignment with all of my food photography gear. While I like to have an open mind I do go in with a plan. For each of the four resturants that I agreed to photograph: Jack Brown's, Stax, Fin and Pearl, and Butcher and Bee, I researched the restaurants. I looked to see what other photographers had photographed there. I looked to see if any locations were overshot and if so what I might do differently. I researched what was on the burgers that I would be photographing. I do my homework so that I keep surprises to a minimum. I go in with an open mind because you never know what type of creative possibilities are out there.
Fin and Pearl
The first restaurant I photographed for this assignment was Fin and Pearl. This is one of my wife's favorite restaurants. I, however, had never actually eaten food in the restaurant. So I was totally stoked to go and check Fin and Pearl out! I had a plan when I arrived at Fin and Pearl. I knew they had an amazing corner booth with natural light coming in from two corners. I knew that it has a really light and bright feel in the corner. So I walk in and I spot my corner. My contact at the restaurant leads me around the restaurant and picks a few spots they have done shoots before, and then I recommend where I want to shoot. They go for my corner booth idea. Things are looking up! So I go ahead and I start setting up my equipment. It is a gloriously sunny day outside with not a cloud in sight. I get my bounce cards in place, my camera tethered, and take a few test shots. The restaurant brings out a burger for me to do a few test shots with before the "hero burger" is done. And then... The world starts to get dark outside the windows. I hear thunder and suddenly we are in the midst of a massive downpour. Plans for using natural light are scrapped. Luckily, despite my hope to use natural light I brought my light kit and stands in with me. I photographed the Bear Creek Burger at Fin and Pearl. I was lucky enough that I got to sample this burger and the house-made chips. This burger is the bombdiggity! And the homemade fries take the cake. It was amazing. Fin and Pearl is one of Nashville's best restaurants in The Gulch and for good reason. Check out the beautiful and delicious food photography from Fin and Pearl below!
Fin and Pearl BTS
Butcher and Bee
Butcher and Bee is one of the East Sides most hip restaurants. I'm 32 years old, a millennial and yet I never feel quite hip enough to be an East Sider. I love the East Side though because of all of the amazing food choices and Butcher and Bee is one of the best restaurants in town. At Butcher and Bee I photographed the Hatch Green Chili Burger. This is one heck of a burger! They start off with some thick cut bacon, use a local beef patty, top it off with cheese and the amazing hatch green chili sauce! I'm a sucker for all things hatch green chili.
A Behind The Scenes Photo from Butcher and Bee
I have loved Stax in Opryland since the grand reopening of the Opryland Hotel in 2010. I worked with another commercial photographer at the time as one of his assistants. Our base for the week of the shoot was an office space that was above Stax. I can still vividly remember the smell of cheeseburgers coming up the steps. We ate plenty of these Build Your Own Burgers that week. I love how we see the grease dripping off of the burger shot above! Nothing is better than a properly greasy cheeseburger.
Behind the Scenes at Stax
Jack Brown's Diner
It is not really a secrete Jack Brown's is one of my favorite burger joints. All of their burgers are made with wagu beef which is like an American version of Kobe beef. The Greg Brady is a burger that I have photographed for multiple publications over the years. It is my favorite burger at Jack Brown's. It starts off with a wagu patty, is topped with cheese, then a layer of mac and cheese, and finally two BBQ potato chips. Not to mention that Jack Brown's has an amazing selection of beer on tap and even more in bottles its a personal favorite. They are a small chain restaurant and have at least 3 locations in Tennessee plus other locations outside of Tennessee.
Behind the Scenes at Jack Brown's Diner
I am always getting questions on Instagram about what equipment I use for food photography. To find out what gear I used to make these images, as well as other food photography images on my website, check out my blog post Food Photography Gear linked here.
Wrapping It Up
Well everyone that was a lot of fun. I photographed burgers at four of Nashville, Tennessee's hottest burger joints. I love going on location for editorial food photos. So what are your favorite restaurants to grab a burger in Nashville? Post your favorite burger spots in the comments?
Nick Bumgardner is an editorial food photographer based in Nashville, TN. To follow Nick on social media click the social icons below! To book a shoot with Nick click the button below!