To honor Japanese chefs


Making portraits of great Japanese chefs is a challenge in itself. Photographer Anoush Abrar took up this task and shares his experience.

The task was simple: make portraits of great Japanese chefs.

The execution was much less so.

Confined locations with little or no light at all forced Anoush to find multiple ways to achieve the qualitative result he has set himself as his objective. Often these kinds of spaces are flooded with pale neon light which has a very flat and artificial look.


Intimately linked to great Japanese chefs, these small places have almost sacred appearances.

This is a place of work, life and commitment, in that regard it must be respected.

In a typical way of doing a setup for a photo shoot, a photographer has to make changes or additions in order to build a composition. As the space is very traditional with tatamis, wood and tables, these objects could be easily damaged or marked. The utmost care and sensitivity are required when setting up this type of photo session.


The model in this session is a great Japanese chef, that is to say, they are legends of Japanese gastronomy with all the respect that this brings. Dealing with this particular type of person can be very difficult. The photographer must humbly manoeuvre his photo session in such delicate conditions.

What does not make things easier is the extremely limited time available. During this period, 2 of the chef’s dishes must be shot. Many factors have to be taken into account and therefore no errors are allowed.

At this point, the slightest mistake can destroy this brief moment shared with legends of Japanese cuisine.

It is better to travel light in Japan for the journeys that such a project entail.


Therefore, one of the keys to success in this mission is to come with as compact and discreet material as possible. It must be easily transportable, flexible and with a quick setup in any configuration.

In this case, an ELB 500 TTL coupled with a single flash head and an Rotalux Octabox 100 is the perfect approach.


The rule of Anoush Abrar is to take only one suitcase for this type of mission. He packs all his photo equipment, the ELB 500 TTL with one head, the Rotalux Octabox 100, a tiny tripod for the head and a tripod for the camera.

Japan, a country of sophistication and purity.

For Anoush, this is also in line with the minimum amount of equipment to take on a location for final results as clean and uncluttered as possible.

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