Hakkasan Mayfair restaurant: Interior Design Photography

Media: Photography  / HDR processing

Behind the scenes
Until this commission I had not actively looked at breaking into the interior design / architecture realm of photography. I have always been more focused on portraiture and photojournalism, other than when some level of interior photography was called for on a given job.
But how could I turn down the opportunity to photograph the newly launched prestigious Hakkasan Mayfair in London.

I had previously met the designers of the restaurant several years earlier. Being based in Paris they approached me to photograph the London restaurant and I quickly accepted.
Having spent an evening sampling the food along with some fine wines and studying the different levels and spaces with the designers I began deciding on the best approach to take to capture the complex lighting in the restaurant with its wide dynamic and tonal ranges.

I settled on the HDR method of photography [high dynamic range]. Sometimes this method can look too artificial and painting like and this is not something I or the client wanted, the look had to be photorealistic with good contrast and rich black levels, but at the same time showcase the beautiful details in the rich woods and shadows whilst preserving highlight areas such as on the tables and the bar areas.
The approach to HDR is to shoot multiple exposures and I used up to 9 frames for each of my final images. The frame blending options available in post are large so this has to be carefully considered when processing the 9 images into 1 final image. The final result is one that simply can’t be captured in a single image and in my opinion closer to how the human eye sees in low light environments.

Almost all the images were shot with a large depth of field so everything is in focus and at a low film speed. These noise free images can easily be cropped by the client without noticeable loss in quality, even if used for print media.

The shoot itself was an interesting challenge. As Hakkasan is now officially open I had to photograph whilst the staff set-up for lunch. I had a small two hour window from 10am -12am and went in consecutively over three mornings.
The other issue was that I could not change the lighting, something that I would have done if I had the run of the place with no one present. Finally holding back the busy staff from the entering frame during minutes of different exposures was an added challenge.
Given these working conditions I and even more importantly the client are pleased with the results.

Gear & Tech
Canon 5d mark II
Canon 14mm F2.8 L II [my 1st time with this lens and I’m very impressed].
Cannon 24mm F1.4 L
Canon 50mm F1.2 L
Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod.
Tethered to laptop the whole shoot with the computer bracketing the exposures [best to use grid view to adjust for parallax error]
Post processing: HDR software