Litra Saves the Day at World Food Championships

September 02, 2020 0 Comments


My name is Michael Durr. I am a freelance photographer and videographer located in the midwest region. I worked for many years in Chicago until my family relocated to Indianapolis a few years ago, where I started freelancing. Recently, I captured images at The World Food Championships held in Indianapolis, IN at Ivy Tech Community College.




Over the years, I have captured many different types of subjects. Everything from weddings to heavy machinery. I can say that this particular event was one of the most physically demanding jobs I have done. It required me to tap into all the photographic skills I have accumulated over the years.

If you are not familiar with the World Food Championships, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s known as The Ultimate Food Fight and the whole experience is incredible.

On day one of the four day shoot, I needed to capture portraits of the 10 chef finalists. I had a strobe set with a grey sweep but I also wanted to capture a more intimate  and warm portrait of each of the chefs. So I I used a LitraPro and a LitraTorch 2.0 for a secondary set. I was shooting almost wide open with a Canon 85mm f/1.2. I had each of the chefs sit at a table in front of a nice fireplace on the top floor of the Ivy Tech building. I was really happy with how the images came out and they made for a very nice compliment to the more standard sweep photos.

On day three things got crazy. Each of the 10 chefs was required to prepare a pork dish. There were five chefs on each side of a long hallway and the “cheferies” staggered their start times by 10 minutes.

Once things were rolling, I had to capture action shots of the cooking. Then, when the first chef’s time was up, I had to follow their presentation dish into the adjacent ballroom where there was a panel of judges waiting to judge the dish. I captured a few images of the judges and the chef presenting then had to follow the display dish to a back room where I had black sweep set up.

I had a secondary camera I used to capture the hero shot and I used strobes to keep the entire dish in sharp focus. However, I also wanted to capture tighter shots that we are more accustomed to seeing on social media. So I had my Litra lights on the floor and as soon as I snapped a couple hero frames with the strobes I grabbed the Litra lights and did some close ups with the camera I was using to capture all the action.

Sounds easy enough? Well, I had to do this all within 10 minutes so I could get to the next chef before they completed their challenge and then I had to do the same thing for each of the 10 dishes. It was over an hour of complete mayhem.

Adding to the chaos was a video team covering the event for an episode of The Final Table that will air in early October on Netflix. I needed to be extra fast so that they had time to shoot video of the dish on another set. When it came down to it I had less then two minutes to shoot the hero image and the tighter shots of the dish before I had to hustle back to the kitchen. It took all my knowledge of studio lighting, camera settings and athletic ability to capture everything that was required of me during this time.

Overall, the Litra lights were a great compliment to images I captured. I was doing this shoot solo so having a small, light weight and durable continuous lighting option was crucial to being able to run and gun.

If you have questions on my set up or any comments at all feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @instadurr.

Michael Durr