Meet the Bloggers: Gil Riego Jr.
You read them here, now find out who the hell they are: We give you the diverse group of men and women who cover the local food and drink scene for you on SFoodie.
You might call Gil Riego Jr., an omnivore of photography. Photojournalism, portraiture, concerts, and of course, food photography, are all part and parcel of his wide-spanning career. Our first attempt at an interview was stymied by a last-minute protest he needed to shoot, but we eventually had the chance to chat over a beer at Orson.
Jesse: How long have you been taking pictures?
Anibal Ortiz Gil Riego Jr. in a pile of feathers.
Gil: I've been taking photos for 12 or 13 years, but I was into videography before that. I had a video camera and I used to film everything, like that creepy kid in American Beauty. It's strange how I evolved from videos to photography, because it seems like most people go the opposite way. When I discovered photography in high school, I loved that you get such a brief window to capture that perfect moment. Videocameras just roll and roll and capture everything.
So you were a photographer, predigital revolution?
I was, but I'm not one of those purists who cried when digital photography came along. I'm the type of guy that welcomes technological advances, if they improve a process or make it easier. A hammer is better than a rock, you know? I've got friends who still slave away in the darkroom, but that seems silly. Those are art school kids, mostly.
When did you start making money from your photography?
My first paid shoot was for my friend Tara, an aspiring actress. She needed headshots and paid me $100 for two hours of work. She also gets me drunk whenever she sees me, so it's the gift that keeps on giving.
What was your first shoot for SFoodie?
I went out with Jonathan [Kauffman] to take photographs of pastries from five different locations. It was a funny day. Jonathan would buy a pastry, then take it out to his car for me to shoot. The goal was to make it look like the pictures weren't being taken in a car, which involved a lot of frame adjustments and the creative use of napkins.
Do you enjoy photographing food?
I do, though I'm not a fan of big elaborate staged shots. I think photos should show exactly what you ate, without like, injecting ketchup in strategic spots or using motor oil to look like beer. You see a picture of a Whopper on a billboard, but that's not really what you're going to get. I want my pictures to be honest.
What are some of your favorite foods?
I'm a meat-and-potato guy, and I love big stews and hearty comfort foods. I love kare-kare, a Philippine peanut butter soup made with oxtail and eggplant. I used to eat that a lot in L.A., but can't seem to find it around here. I'm also a big fan of loco moco, a hamburger and rice dish you can get at L&L.
What are your ultimate goals?
I'm studying photojournalism at SFSU, but I don't know if that will be my career. In five years, I just want to be able to say, "I'm a professional photographer" when I introduce myself.
Hey, has anyone ever told you that you look like Chuck Norris?
No, but I can't wait to put that in your profile.