Left: Justin Right: Josh
Justin and Josh, 2 photojournalists traveling around the world on assignments, are so in love with burgers that they decided to start their own burger review blog, The Hamblogger. I sure wish I can travel for my job and get the chance to eat at so many different cities and towns.
Every time I read their blog it makes me want to run out and get a burger, which I did couple times. It's hard to resist with their intensely beautiful shots of tasty burgers.
Q. What are you trying to capture when you take your food photos?
Justin. I want people to experience the burger through a photo. The more detailed the photo is, the better idea they will have as what to expect if they decide to try it out for themselves.
Josh. When photographing a hamburger, I aim to share the emotion I personally experienced when the burger was placed before me. I focus on documenting the work of art that the burger is before obliterating it for my own pleasure.
Q. When you visit a city, how do you go about finding a burger place and what happens when there are more than 2 or 3 places you need to try?
Justin. If I have advanced notice of a trip I will do some online research of the area and if it is a last minute trip I will always ask locals for their opinion. Cops and fire fighters usually know some good places. If there are 2 or 3 places that I need to try, I will squeeze them all in if I have the time. I think I have had a couple 3 burger days.
Josh. I pretty much rely on google and recommendations of friends who live or frequent the city I'll be visiting. When it comes to google results, I try not to start with the most popular and heavily reviewed locations but rather with the hole-in-the-wall mom n' pop locations. I'll visit as many as I reasonably can when time allows but have yet to do more than one in a day -- Justin is the master of that. It's painful when you're in and out of a town too quickly to even do one.
Q. Is this your first time food blogging? How does it feel to take food photos for your blog? And as a professional photojournalist how do you feel about some of the chefs complaining people photographing the food and go so far as banning cameras in the restaurants?
Justin. This is my first time doing a food blog and pretty much the first time doing food photography. Back when I used to work at newspapers I did a little bit of food stuff here and there but not too much. I recently dug up some of the shoots I did for restaurant reviews in the late 90’s, it was appalling. I had no concept of food photography. I am really enjoying the food photography, much more than I thought I would. I have a better appreciation for food now than I did 10 years ago.
I have heard from friends in NY and LA that some of the chefs aren’t very receptive of cameras in their dining rooms. I haven’t personally experienced this since most of the places that I review are smaller mom and pop type establishments. I rarely do reviews of high-end restaurants. I can see where they might be frustrated though, here they are making amazing dishes that are usually all about presentation and people come in with crappy cell phone cameras that take lousy photos which end up on the web and aren’t really a true representation of their creation.
Josh. This is my first time blogging, period! I've always been fairly shy (which contributed to me becoming a photographer) and never thought of myself as a writer (which contributed to me becoming a photographer) so I didn't feel I had any profound words to share. But it's different with burgers. The goodness of burgers should be shared, which has led to the Hamblogger. I love creating images and the photography component of the blog is the most important ingredient for me. The words are the garnish for the images and not the other way around. I have yet to run into a restaurant that has banned cameras but in the end the restaurant is private property and the owners can do as they please, in which case I'll simply get the burger to go and shoot it outside.
Q. Does it help to be a photojournalist when taking your food photos?
Justin. I think my background in photojournalism helps me because I take the viewer beyond just a photograph of food. I try to make each review a small photo essay about the place. Some places are more interesting than others so each review is different as far as number of photos.
Josh. Being a photojournalist helps when it comes to handling the inevitable questions about why I'm photographing my burger. It also helps that photojournalists are practiced in making a high quality image with limited equipment in a minimal time span.
Q. Yes to animal-style everything in your In-N-Out burgers/fries?
Justin. I like the animal style burgers, but I can’t really eat onions so I usually omit them. Pickles are a must on In-N-Out burgers. I’m not a huge fry guy so if I do get fries I just get them plain.
Josh. Perhaps it's because I'm not a native Californian and thus I'm lacking the INO gene, but I say no to In-N-Out.
Q. Best damn burger you have eaten so far and your dream city to go for a burger.
Justin. Best damn burger? Wow, that’s a tough one. I don’t know if I could actually put my finger on just one since there are so many different styles of burgers that I like. I did have a really good one recently at a Mexican restaurant called Don Pistos in San Francisco which got the hamblogger’s highest rating.
A dream city for a burger? I’d have to say Los Angeles would be a perfect destination for a burger binge since they have a ton of awesome burger joints. I could spend a week down there and still not be able to hit all the places that I like.
Josh. As I mentioned before, I enjoy hole-in-the-wall locations and the burger I've enjoyed the most Hamblogging so far was at Hole in the Wall in Los Angeles. I'm looking forward to someday having a burger in Seymour, Wisconsin as well as Hamburg, Germany.
- Justin Sullivan & Josh Weisberg of The Hamblogger