For the December issue of Redbook, Melanie Acevedo photographed the cast of ABC’s mega-popular morning show The Chew: Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly, Evette Rios, and Daphne Oz. The theme was a cozy holiday party with food from recipes provided by each cast member, but the shoot took place in a downtown Manhattan photo studio. Here, Melanie—who worked with Redbook photography director Bruce Perez—explains how she got the festive shots that appeared in the magazine.
What was the vibe?
Very relaxed, fun atmosphere. Food was cooking in the kitchen, so there were lots of good smells, music playing, lots of laughing.
What are some examples of how you directed the cast?
I had them just hang out and pretend they really were at a holiday party together. I told them to have REAL conversations, tell secrets, tease each other, eat the food—all the stuff they would normally do if they weren’t in a photo studio being photographed.
Was this a rushed shoot? Or did you have time to set the scene?
Considering the schedules we had to accommodate, we did actually have a decent amount of time. We started with Mario, since he had to leave first, then we were able to bring the rest of the cast in bit by bit, till they were all there at the same time for the group shots. After that was done, certain members of the cast did have to leave, but we continued to work with who was left.
What shots did you absolutely have to get?
I had to have a photo of Mario alone with his ham recipe. Had to have the group shot around the table, from above, then smaller groupings of the cast, and the food beauty shots of all of their recipes.
Any fun anecdotes?
The second Mario came in, he was chomping on the delicious ham! But everyone was eating all day long. With that much delicious food around, it’s kind of an all-day buffet. We all just had to be careful not to eat the food before we photographed it!