I first met Vianney through a mutual friend (Gerald Flores / TacoGear.com) when she was looking to add some fresh headshots to her lineup. I immediately loved working with her (and began digging into her awesome website – SweetLifeBake and loved what I was seeing there. We had done two projects together (including shooting her line of merch, SoyTejana) and she asked me if I’d be interested in photographing her tamalada. Of course, being from south Texas, I knew what tamales, so I could only assume that a tamalada was some sort of gathering to either make or consume tamales. Let’s just say I was down.
Having learned photography by photographing my own family’s various get-togethers with a Canon A1 and 50/1.4 I knew this was something I couldn’t pass up. Vianney wanted that authentic feel throughout the images – while I had brought (and planned to use some lighting) I decided to forgo and utilize the ambient light and just crank up my ISO when I needed to. We started off slowly, getting plenty of “b-roll” still life shots of the decor, setups, and food before we brought in the masses to manufacture tamales. It’s not a complicated process, but it is time-consuming and pretty particular – you don’t want too much masa, nor do you want to little. Also, you want to ensure you don’t skimp on the meat (otherwise you’re going to get badmouthed – at least that’s what I understand.) In just a few minutes the whole crew was in motion: flattening the husks, spreading the masa, adding the meat, and rolling the tamales up. Before long we had all the shots we needed and it was on to very simple post processing for the end product.
I am always thankful for shoots like these where I get to interact with and have fun alongside everyone involved. Even better is that I learned quite a bit about the tradition behind it during Christmas time. And the best part is that I was sent home with some freshly made tamales and pozole.
If you are interested in learning more, visit Vianney’s Blog to learn “How to Host a Tamalada” as well as check out her HUGE library of Latin inspired recipes and cocktails!