Master Pizza and Photography with Guru Matt Jones.
This is an exciting article for us – not only were we able to sit down with one of our favorite photographers to pick his brain on shooting photos, but he is also going to take us through the steps to make some amazing pizza. Tonight at 9:00 pm ET we will be sitting down with Matt to go over some of these tips – watch him edit a photo – and also cook a pizza! You won’t want to miss it.
Matt is going to start off this article with some quick photo tips to help you have a more successful shoot.
Tip #1 Research your Location
Properly researching your location(s) and talent are some of the first steps contributing to a successful shoot. Digesting every bit of information about your locations will all allow you to start visualizing and planning what shots you would like to tackle. This will also help you when prepping gear and packing (see below).
Some key things to research are:
- Geographical features
- Light (sunrise/sunset times)
- Flora and fauna
- Water clarity (this will help me determine the importance of my underwater housing making the trip or not, especially when weight is considered).
- Restrictions – knowing restrictions on weight, drone laws, etc can heavily affect your shoot. This should be the most important when traveling internationally for a shoot.
Top 3 research tools
- OnX – great for locating public land
- Google Earth – general idea on geographical features and light information
- Sun Seeker app – helps in determining where the sun will rise and set for any location`
Tip #2 Gear Prep / Packing properly
Gear prep and packing is very much determined by what you find out throughout the research process. When you have a shot list and an idea of your goals, this will dictate what and how you pack in order for you to be as efficient as possible each day. Will you be in a boat mostly? Then a pelican case might be the best option to tote your camera gear. Or if you will be walking/hiking a backpack will be the better option. Is there a weight limit on a small aircraft? Then utilizing zoom lenses instead of packing a ton of prime lenses might save some weight. It’s also key to make sure you are traveling with quality luggage so that your gear is protected. Here are my favorites:
- YETI Panga 100 – rugged duffle that is 100% submersible and will handle the wear & tear from airline travel.
- YETI Tacayo Backpack – perfect carry-on that holds all the essentials.
- Pelican Case 1510 with TrekPack insert – great for boats/vehicles.
- FStop Tilopa Backpack – for walking/hiking destinations.
Tip #3 Shoot multiple focal lengths to capture the story
This is a fundamental workflow that should become second nature to every photographer. When you find a shot you like (or have planned) make sure to capture the subject of your shot at multiple focal lengths. This is simply shooting a wide, medium, and tight (detail) shot of the primary subject and what he/she/they might be doing. Your wide shot is the establishing shot which reveals the location and it’s relation to the subject (could be an aerial shot). The medium shot focuses on the subject and reveals what is actually happening. And finally, the detail shot provides the last piece of information to complete the story. When planning a shot list or when shooting on the fly, it’s ideal to shoot as much as possible around that given subject to make sure that nothing is missed.
Tip #4 Keep color correction simple but unique
I’ll start by mentioning that shooting RAW is very important! These days, there should be no reason you can’t get a memory card at an affordable price in order to capture the larger RAW files. Having this flexibility in post is crucial to getting the best outcome for any image. There are a million different ways to edit an image, much of which is largely dependant on your intended use. For me, I prefer to keep things very simple and not overprocess the image. I have also worked tirelessly to develop my own “look” which I would encourage everyone to progress toward for their own work. This is one of many ways to set yourself apart from the crowd.
BONUS TIP: File Recovery Software
Most memory card brands (SanDisk, Lexar, etc) have their own proprietary file recovery software in the unfortunate situation that files go corrupt or a card malfunctions. I have had this happen to me and the software has worked. I would recommend downloading the software for your particular brand of card and have it installed in the rare case this happens to you.
Pizza Recipe (How to Cook the Perfect Pizza)
RECIPE (Bakers Percentages)
- 100% Caputo 00 Flour
- 65% Water
- 1% Fresh Yeast (found by the eggs typically) OR 7% Sourdough Starter
- 3% Sea Salt
- 2% Extra Virgin Olive Oil
RECIPE (4 12” Pies)
- For 4 12” pizzas (260g dough balls)
- 612g Caputo 00 Flour
- 398g Water
- 6g Yeast
- 18g Sea Salt
- 12g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Steps for a Neapolitan pizza
- Gather ingredients
- Using a food scale, measure out each ingredient in grams using the above percentages (all percentages are based off the initial amount of flour being used)
- Add flour to stand mixer
- Add water, yeast, oil and salt into a separate bowl and mix until yeast and salt are dissolved
- Pour liquid ingredients into stand mixer and mix on low for 2 minutes or until ingredients are roughly incorporated.
- Remove dough and knead for 5 minutes or until dough begins to tighten
- Let rest covered for 10 minutes
- Stretch and fold the dough until dough tightens (google this process) and repeat 3 times (rest then stretch/fold)
- The dough should now be very smooth and should then be placed into a closed container (lightly oiled)
- Let rest for 5 hours at room temperature then remove and section off into dough balls.
- Place dough balls in a plastic container (airtight) and place it into the fridge (ideally for 48 or 72hrs). Ideal fridge temperature 40ºF
- On the day you plan to make pizza, remove the container from the fridge and leave yourself a 3-5hr window before baking for the final proof. Simply let the dough rest at room temperature until the dough reads 68º-70ºF (using laser thermometer).
- Preheat the oven on it’s hottest setting for 1hr prior to baking.
- Once the dough is ready, use a generous amount of flour and a flexible putty knife or spatula to left the dough ball from the tray.
- Place the dough ball into a tray with flour and coat the entire surface of the ball with flour so there are no sticky areas.
- Begin opening the dough using your fingers by pressing the air out of the center of the ball toward the outer rim of the ball. Do not press the dough on the outer rim as this will be your crust.
- Lift the partially opened dough ball onto your knuckles and rotate the dough using the knuckles on both hands and let gravity stretch the dough out as you rotate. There are other methods to open dough and can be found on youtube by searching “opening dough ball”
- Add ingredients to pizza and bake!
Other Pizza Tips
Know your oven and its peak temperatures
Certain flours are milled to excel in particular temperature ranges. For example:
Caputo 00 Pizzeria excels in ovens that reach 700ºF or more as to where Caputo 00 Americana excels in most home ovens reaching the 550ºF temperature range.
Always preheat your oven with the pizza stone inside. This is how you get a crispy bottom!
Get the necessary tools
These tools will make your life easier:
- Bench scraper
- Stand Mixer
- Putty knife (wide)
- Dough box
To get traditional results with a high-temperature oven, take a look at the lineup from Ooni. They make incredible ovens at an affordable price that yield professional results!
Know the ingredients and how they affect the dough
If you know how each ingredient affects the dough then you will be able to diagnose what you did or didn’t like about the pizza and make some changes for the next time. There are plenty of resources online that explain what
Always take notes so that you can look back and see where you might have made a mistake and need to adjust. The dough is unique in that it behaves differently with whatever climate it’s in so recipes will always need to be slightly altered.
Make sure to follow along tonight on IG live – and for more of Matt’s work check him out on IG here.