Archive for June, 2010

“Don’t let them die!!!” This ardent email plea for the lives of our cucumber plants comes in from Dov, away for most of the summer. The garden is our shared project. He knows I get preoccupied with work, and that he needs to do some long-distance gardening/nudging! “We need something to keep the cucs up!! There should be green grids in the garage somewhere.”

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Details are everything. In this shoot, the clients (Marriner Marketing Communications and Rich Products) have very specific requirements and communicate them well. Several genial representatives from the two companies settle in at my studio for the three-day shoot. They’re quite organized, with detailed lists of products to shoot and sketches of desired setups for each. Also in the studio are food stylist Lisa Cherkasky with her assistant, and my assistant. It’s great working with an experienced, skilled team like this. Bonus: We have fun and still get lots done.

Rich Products has a variety of bread lines (from raw dough to fully cooked) that sell to commerical and institutional foodservice businesses. We present their sliced, roasted garlic bread as tasty-looking paninis with grilled vegetables, cheese and pesto.

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Sparkling magenta sugar sprinkles over this simple, elegant piece of chocolate transforming it into a little treasure. “Persephone’s Pomegranate” is one of the unique flavors in Zoe’s Chocolates’ Signature Chocolate Collection (“Naturally sweet, red & juicy pomegranate blended into a dark chocolate ganache.”) Yikes. It’s hard to keep from eating everything on the set! I’m shooting most of their product line for their website, which will soon feature my images of their precious sweets.

I am charmed by the story behind their business and really love working with them. It is classic: Greek immigrant arrives in Baltimore, sells homemade chocolates from pushcart, opens store, becomes head of now-successful family business, hands it down to next two generations. The background in the above photo is an actual, original recipe in the handwriting of the first chocolatier/owner of Zoe’s! I love the connection.

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Shot The Palm today for their soon-to-be redesigned website. As usual, a recent walk-through of the location proves helpful; but I’m always receptive to new situations at the actual shoot.

Including the Palm’s caricature wall in a shot is mandatory because it’s their signature decor. So, it serves as a characteristic, atmospheric background for this casual bar shot of their Calamari Fritti app.

The project is to showcase the gamut of their menu, from burgers and beer, to filet and wine. So, we have many different subjects, areas and backgrounds to shoot. This all requires numerous lighting and set-up scenarios. Having my assistant Isaac with me is a big help.

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The Mount Vernon cookbook is one of my favorite kinds of projects. The final design will feature photos of prepared recipes, and will also incorporate images from the very Kitchen Garden that kept George & Martha Washington stocked with fruit and veg. This early phase, before I shoot recipes, allows me to just go hunting for photo opps.

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The Palm is one of DC’s archetypic “power dining” spots. I’ll shoot their DC location for images they plan to use on their website. To prep for this job, I do a walk-through with the management. Scouting ahead always helps me to plan specific shots they want, and to see what else inspires me. Shooting some quick, basic studies of the space and potential subject matter of a location helps me anticipate whatever I may need to bring.

The Palm has restaurants in many US cities. All have a signature visual element that we need to include in my shoot as a background—the caricature artwork lining the walls. This tradition started when the original owners, needing wall decor, hired caricature artists to draw their high-profile customers (paying the “starving artists” with steak dinners). For this location, the cartoons include politicians and other DC patrons. There are a number of possible approaches to shooting these walls, so I make a variety of work shots to help me plot potential vantage points and lighting scenarios.

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I love food! I love to eat! Not so crazy about the cooking. Fortunately, I work with some excellent food stylists, chefs and other geniuses in the kitchen. I even married a good cook, so I don’t have to depend on my own culinary ability to satisfy my palate!

I do like gardening, though. And, even though I live in the city, I grow herbs in a small patch that I tend with my son, Dov. Taking care of the garden is fun for us to do together, and it helps keep me grounded—something I need when my work schedule gets hectic. And, when my husband, Marty, cooks for the family, he can use the fresh herbs right outside our house.

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Still life comes alive for me. Certain combinations of things, like vintage kitchen tools and fresh produce, take on personalities.

Since 2008, those hints of personalities, that originally called to me from chance arrangements of random items, inspire a series of composed images. It’s fun to create my own subjects to shoot, and to allow their inner characters to emerge.

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