Brooklyn Thanksgiving!

I really LOVE roasting a big fat turkey. So for a few years now I have invited friends to my apartment to join me for a thanksgiving feast.  The first time I did this I was still in college in Rochester, the turkey was 15 pounds and the gravy ended up all over the front of my jeans and on my kitchen floor.  Since then the turkey has gotten larger, the guests have gotten more numerous, and this year I gave up on making gravy altogether.
While roasting a turkey can be a challenge in and of itself, once it's ready to go and in the oven, all that's left to do is babysit. So this year I decided to indulge my love of baking as well.  I found a recipe for a vanilla-spiced caramel and pear tart in Bon Appetit magazine that looked just challenging enough to tackle.  The recipe can be found here 
The tart turned out great, but if I had it to do over again, I would make sure that the tart was out of the oven well before the turkey had to enter, because trying to juggle the shelves and temperate for both at the same time, was not that easy. 
Here are some photos from the process:

These are the pears carmelizing on the stove with the cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise.

These are the pears, fully carmelized, cooling in the skillet by the window. 

Here are the pears and filling in the springform pan, all ready to go in the oven

Here's the finished tart, all puffed up and begging to be eaten

And as a bonus, here are the brussel sprouts that Lauren brilliantly diced



I have gotten mixed reviews on my choice to shoot only food.  Many people have told me that it's great that I have one direction and focus to my photography.  Others have pointed out that with such a specific subject matter, I may be missing out on other potential clients when that time comes.  
I have given this a lot of thought over the years, and while I truly love shooting food, I think that it is important to show that I have skills for lighting other subjects as well.  The solution that I came up with was to shoot plating.  This way I could light things in ways that are not necessarily appropriate when working with food, but dishes still tie in with my work and can be placed in my portfolio with food work.  My prop stylist, Derek, was just as jazzed about this idea as I was, and here is what we came up with when we got together:


Boooon Appetit!

This past week I made a trip to Pennsylvania with Lauren.  She was set to do some food styling, and I tagged along to lend a helping hand.  While there, we decided to make a side trip to visit my folks, and cook them a fabulous dinner in the process.  In our usual fashion,  we chose a meal that neither of us had prepared before and that was known for being difficult. Boeuf Bourguignon! But not just any Beouf Bourguignon, Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. 
While we did the shopping together and both consulted the recipe, I have to admit that Lauren did the majority of the cooking.  I happily took control of the dessert (a delicious carrot cake) and let Lauren take the wheel with the dinner.  Though I did help peel some potatoes and managed to do so without cutting myself :) Needless to say, the entire meal was amazing, and everyone enjoyed it.  We also watched "Julie and Julia" while cooking and we were both left with a new respect for Julia Child and her recipes. 

Here are a couple of photos we shot during the cooking process. Sadly, all of the beautiful daylight was gone by the time the meal was finished. 


Christmas in October?

Lauren and I got together recently with the goal of shooting our holiday promo early this year.  I loved this idea, because it gave us time to make the photos exactly what we want, and now we will have plenty of time left to design the card and have it professionally printed before having to send it out.  

I don't want to give away too much, because then what's the point of the card? But I can tell you that we decided to do a "process shot" of gingerbread cookies. The dough, the cookies cutters, the final baked cookie and lastly, the decorating. We had a blast shooting it, as always, and after much debate (mostly from myself) over whether or not to make the photos black and white, we decided that with the richness of the brown in the gingerbread dough, it had to be color.

Like I said, I don't want to give too much away, but here are some examples of what we shot.

PS- The cookies were delicious. 


Spring Fever!

Winter is over and the "Spring" section of our recipe book has officially begun.  Yesterday, Derek, Lauren and I got together to start the first shoot for the spring section of the book.  We decided to tackle the berry meringue recipe as well as what we are calling the "Fat Sandwich." We also tried shooting our margarita, but decided to save that for another day.  
Everything went pretty smoothly and we had a great time.  I really love the shots that we ended up with, and we would love any input that can be given! As you can see from above, we have a handful of variations to choose from. Please, help us decide.


Black and White and Flour all over.

Yesterday was the final shoot for the "winter" section of our recipe book.  We decided that we wanted to do a 'how to' section in the book, and that the Italian pasta, cavatelli's, would be the perfect opportunity to do so.  Lauren's family owns a cavatelli maker, so we were able to make the dough and the little noodles fresh on set.  Thanks LaPenna's! 
This also seemed like the perfect chance for me to do something a little different with my photography, as well.  I have never shot any type of 'how to' before, and rarely use people (or any of their limbs) in my photographs. I have also fallen into a habit of shooting very clean, very colorful food photos, so doing something raw, gritty, and black and white was extremely refreshing. 
The above grid is an example of how this 'how to' will be displayed in our recipe book, showing the step-by-step cavatelli process. Below are each of the individual photos. Let us know what you think!



holes in my jeans, braids in my hair, and a camera in my hands.

Yesterday was shoot #4 of the Recipe book that Lauren, Derek and I are working on.  We're still shooting for the "winter" section of the book, and yesterday's theme was Valentine's Day.  We wanted to do a plated meal that was a bit more sophisticated and celebratory, without the scene looking cheesy.  I think that we accomplished exactly what we set out to do.  We chose a dish of lamb chops with a cranberry sauce, potatoes, and some greens. Derek managed to bring us props that subtly said Valentine's day, without fiery hearts and naked cupids (much to Lauren's disappointment). The color of the plates perfectly highlighted the beautiful colors in the food, and the lamb looked stunning (it tasted pretty stunning, too).  Luckily, for me, the weather outside was gross and cloudy, and made for a soft and beautiful light in the studio. 
One more shoot and we're completely finished with the first section of the book, and weeks ahead of time! The project is coming along wonderfully, and we're all having a really great time with it.  Although, we all agree that we could really use assistants while we're shooting, any volunteers?
Thoughts and comments on the photos are encouraged! 


And then there were 3.

Yesterday was another recipe book shoot day.  Lauren and I have been very excited about this project, and decided that, to make our own lives a bit easier, we should include a prop stylist in our creative mix.  That way, we can concentrate on our own jobs as food stylist and photographer and not have to worry about the propping.  We met with a few different people to fill this position, and found someone that we believe fits in great on our set, which can, more often than not, get a bit quirky and unconventional. The lucky guy, Derek Ellis, experienced his first day working with us yesterday, and I think the results are great! We chose to reattempt the hot chocolate shot (the former can be seen in my last post), because we just weren't happy with the way it turned out the first time.  Derek brought some great props, Lauren handled the styling of the chocolate and the whipped cream like a real pro, and because it was the day after the big snowstorm, the natural light looked beautiful in the studio. 

We ended up trying two different variations on the shot, and then played around with some close ups at the end.  The first variation is more of a "mexican" theme, mainly because the recipe is for mexican hot chocolate (and it's delicious, by the way).  The colors look great, and the chilies and vanilla bean add to the feel of the photo. The second variation has more of a rustic look.  Derek found the little cups that are featured in the shot at a thrift store and was thrilled to get a chance to use them. 

Enjoy the photos and please let us know what you think!


Recipe project

My food stylist friend, Lauren, and myself have decided to create our own recipe book.  We've gathered recipes from different cookbooks, websites, and from our own families. We've set up the book in four sections, one for each season.  The recipes are organized into the seasons based on when the ingredients are the freshest, and when that particular food would normally be enjoyed. We're also working with a prop stylist and a designer, to make the book as great as it can possibly be. The goal is to have the photography finished by the end of October, and have the entire thing designed and put together by mid November. 

The above photos are the first images to come out of this project.  All of the images are for the "winter" section of the recipe book.  The top image is a gingerbread cookie recipe. We just shot that this past week, and the shot hasn't gone through post yet.  The middle image is a scallop chowder (which is delicious), and the bottom image was meant to go along with recipes for mint hot chocolate and mexican hot chocolate.  However, I think we're going to try a reshoot for the hot chocolate image.  There are qualities to this image that I enjoy, but it doesn't exhibit the food styling and photography that we are looking to showcase in our recipe book. 

Let us know any thoughts or ideas you may have about this project! Thanks!