It was fortuitous. I needed an image for a winter article written by Chef Frank Chlumsky. He’s what other cooks call “old school” and what he wrote was nostalgic. I thought I needed a black and white photograph to keep the mood. Frank taught at Kendall College for many years and I remembered all the portraits of faculty chefs lining the halls there. I asked if he could get me the one of him in his whites, starched neckerchief and toque showing just a bit. With that jpeg, I got a link to Eric Futran’s website “chefshots” and with that, entrance to a world of wonderful images. As Humphrey Bogart said to Claude Rains in Casablanca “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Mr. Futran was one of the original photographers for the Reader, where he began his career as a photojournalist in 1973. Maybe that’s why so many of his pictures are not static images but tell a story. By the 1980’s, he began focusing on food and culinary photography. Since then he’s photographed kitchens and barnyards, butcher shops and packing houses, three star dining establishments, mom and pop restaurants and fast food joints all over the world. He captures the fellowship engendered by great food and those who produce it. Particularly in his black and white photographs, he also captures the beauty of ordinary culinary objects perceived almost as abstract forms. Both from how he approaches a photo shoot and what he captures in his images, it’s obvious that he understands the working realities of the food business. His photographs reflect his respect and also his irreverence.
Mr. Futran’s commercial clients include food and equipment manufacturers, artisanal producers, fast food chains and white tablecloth restaurants. He photographs for culinary magazines and cookbooks. You will see quite a number of his pictures throughout the Summer Issue of the Cook’s Gazette (Bento, Sandwiches, Pan Roasted Shrimp with Tomato Chilies and Mezcal, Peaches with Burrata and Lemon Thyme, Peaches with Basil, Prosciutto and Balsamic Vinegar, Curried Chicken Salad with Green Grapes and Toasted Almonds, Asian Chicken Salad, Mexican Chicken Salad, Banh Mi: The Classic, Ooling Fizz Mocktail, Bourbon Renewal, Chef Gene Kato, Chef Kevin Kelly, Jeanne Valenta), and hopefully in many issues to come. Included in the summer edition is his photo essay on working hands.
You can view many of his images on line or, by appointment, at his Chicago photography studio. E-mail him at email@example.com to arrange a visit. He has a large library of images available for sale. The quality of his prints is excellent. He sells three sizes, 11 X 14 inch prints are $125.00, 16 X 20 inch prints are $150.00 and 11 X 25 inch prints sell for $200. I already know what I want for Christmas.