National Burger Month
May is National Burger Month! A tricky thing to photograph, but I always love the challenge.
With temperatures starting to get warmer, it only feels natural to head out to that grill and throw on some burgers! It has become an American staple for comfort food. And even though it's origins are disputed, it doesn't change how much we love them now. The burger origins seem to indicate that it was originally made from scraps of or trash meat, ground up and sold as a patty to those who couldn't afford the more prime cuts used for steaks. The burger now is being created by chefs with the highest cuts of meat, multiple types of meat ground together and other ingredients and care to create true culinary delights.
While the origins of the burger may be in dispute, the origins of National Burger Month are a bit more clear. The fast food chain, White Castle, also recognized as America's first Fast Food Chain started the national day of recognition for burgers back in 1992 as a marketing opportunity. It has since become a celebration for all who love burgers.
I love to photograph food, I don't think that is a real secret to anyone who follows me. However, burgers present some of the most challenging culinary subjects due to a few aspects of their creation. A great burger can look disgusting if not lit, styled and photographed at the right angle. They can seem dry, gray, and messy if not styled correctly. I've sent burgers back to have them re-plated many times throughout my career. Only because I'm looking to create the best looking photos for my clients.
Many things can go wrong when photographing a burger. First, you need to be able to see all of the layers of ingredients that are on the burger. So, stacking is important. Next, if there is cheese, it has to be positioned so it's visible and slightly melted, but not so melted that it's runny. It also needs to be melted pretty close in time to when the photos are being taken or else it will start to look matte and like plastic. Next, any greens need to look fresh. They can't be wilting at all. Onions and tomatoes need to look fresh and not sliced too thick. Finally, any sauces need to be put on so they are visible and look like they are running, but not sloppy, messy or taking over the burger. It's a tricky balance and I usually work with the chef and/or my stylists to create burgers that look their best table side where we are taking the photos.
My favorite burger I've ever had, outside of making my own, was a peanut butter/jalapeño burger here in Lancaster at a restaurant named 551 West. I also love the Bleu Collar smash burger locally at Blue Collar Restaurant. Where's your favorite burger? Head over to Instagram and join our conversation on the burger post.