and we ate

How the How to Went

Well, that was fun! Turns out when you like what you're doing, talking about it is easy. And what we loved the most about doing this workshop was seeing how others see. Below are a few photos by the students and some atmosphere shots of the class. And here are a few ideas that came out of the class we wanted to share, in no particular order. 1. Look for the best light and then play with it. What this means is, if the light is very bright and direct, try taking a picture in that light, then soften the light by filtering it. You can use a white sheet for this.

2. Bounce light back onto your subject. Light is usually coming from one direction which then creates a shadow on the other side of your subject. Try using a white card (we use foam core) to bounce light to fill in the shadow.

3. Play with composition and pattern.

4. Try different surfaces under your subject. We see a lot of photography of unappetizing-looking food out there on the inter-webs that works because the surface the photographer is using is so fantastic and compelling.

5. Get to know how your picture taking device works. Many people are using their phones to take pictures. This is fine and what you see below were mostly taken with iPhones.  And if you learn the best way to use the device and the limitations of the device you are  going to make better pictures.

6. Shoot during the day, please.

Next photography class will be on editing using your phone, iPhoto or whatever program you are using. If you are interested let us know, we have not set a date yet.

workshop blog final

Late-May Mash Up

BE GRATEFUL. That is what we wrote on a piece of paper and taped to our wall last week. It will stay there, as a reminder.

We are happy to have a lot going on (a new studio soon, a new book in the works, a cool smoked fish shoot coming up in June, fun work with Applegate, a tree fort going up in the backyard... all of which we'll post about here in the coming weeks), but staying focused has been hard. So when we sat down at the computer to pull together this blog post, these three images made sense to us in that way that salty and sweet make sense to us in cookies.

1. Elio's birthday is on Sunday. Holy 8! (This pic is from last April, wait till you see him now.)

2. Guy has been crazy trying to start a starter and finally he has trapped yeast in flour and water (it is nice and sour smelling) and, hopefully, will soon be making the dense sprouted bread we so love from our time in Germany and Austria.

3. We love this portrait of Fabrizia, and it reminds us that the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School (where we lived and helped produce the book Coming Home To Sicily) is having its 25th anniversary in June. It is going to be a fantastic celebration (which sadly we will miss) but again serves to remind us of the experience that got us started on our path and yet another reason to be grateful.

So, with that we leave you with these...



The Return

  Just before my trip to Santa Fe this week I received this book in the mail, The Return by Adrain Chesser and Timothy White Eagle. Kate and I know Adrain from our Santa Fe days and were super happy and proud to support him in this truly special book project.  It is not only beautiful and insightful, but it made me do what I have come to crave to do more and more in this instant/digital world; it made me slow down and really look and read. The tactile nature of this type of book is, for me, one of the reasons I want to make pictures and words and put them together in print. And here Adrain and Timothy have done it perfectly.  And then, of course, the subject matter (portraits of people who have made an intentional return to living off the land) makes it all the more grounded. I just love it!

Without getting too philosophical,  I can't help to feel some deeper connection now to my current trip to Santa Fe, which always feels like a return to a way of being and seeing, a resetting of myself,  that is sometimes challenging but always energizing.

Dear Adrain and Timothy, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!






People Eating: Elio

I like pictures of beautiful food. I like beautiful pictures of food. But what is meant to happen to that food? Hopefully it will be eaten, enjoyed, appreciated; happily. This is something I want to start seeing more of. It should be an interesting challenge because who wants a picture of himself eating? I started with Elio the other day after making these little potato croquettes (Banatages) from the gorgeous and under-appreciated book, Medina Kitchen by Fiona Dunlop. This book focuses on the cooking of North Africa and I hope to cook from it a lot and report back here. So this is my first try with the book and my first try with pics of someone eating (along with beautiful pictures of beautiful food). Fortunately Elio liked these, because that was dinner!


10,000 hours

Back in December, we spent two and a half crazy weeks developing and photographing 50 recipes for Food & Wine's online site. It was actually fun, and the creative and physical challenge really inspired us, in that Malcolm Gladwell–10,000 hours sort of way. Food & Wine just started to post the recipes and photos to their site, and we are thrilled that they have asked us to do more! So if you live nearby, or are thinking of visiting, here's some advice: April would be a good time to pop in, you'll eat well. And often. These are some outtakes that we particularly like from the first go-round. See all the recipes and pics here. We would love to hear if anyone cooks these recipes--if you do, let us know. Comment on F&W and/or take a picture and post it on our Facebook or your Instagram so we can check it out!




Zeros and Ones

What are Kate and Guy doing this week? A lot really, but I was just thinking.... What is Photography now? I am not going to get too intellectual about this or too romantic about it either. Making pictures has changed dramatically since I started making them in my little basement darkroom back in 1987 or so. (Yes, I admit it, I was in the darkroom from infancy!) But what does it really mean to make a picture, to represent something. John Berger foresaw Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook etc.. in his book Ways of Seeing (check out this short video) It is this inundation of imagery, this constant communication and need for attention that I am curious about. It is a double need—one is that you want the attention and another is a nagging feeling you need the attention to keep up, to stay relevant. Then we fight against it. I hear all the time that people are quitting Facebook or giving up email. We also see a whole lot of people just making stuff by hand. Artisanal is the hip code word for it. And Kate and I try to keep that as part of our daily life, too. But of course to sell the handmade stuff you must be connected in some way (even if it means you fain disdain for the internet), but then we hope to get written about and linked to for being such a recluse. Then you blow up and are selling everything online. I really do not judge it any more, one way or the other. I just see it as truly one of the bigger struggles of our time. It is for me. It challenges me to see so many great images being made every minute with a little phone. They are images similar to the ones I struggled to make over years at the beginning my artistic practice. On another level I struggle too with the questions of value and longevity. Or are they the same question. Does a handmade black and white print have more value than an Instagram post? If an audience seeing the images adds value then there is a close battle going on.

This is all to say that while working on a book that Kate and I are doing for a publisher I made these two pictures (below) that I really liked. Last year (2013) I probably would not have shared them, but this year I have and I will continue to do so. I will also even share some of the black and white prints I made over the years, 'The Archives' so to speak, the images that were the start of my practice, a practice that is still continuing, sometimes by hand and sometimes with zeros and ones. final2

Canal House, Pronto!

Why was I surprised when Elio and I arrived at Tinicum Park and discovered that the Canal House “picnic” was actually a sit-down, mid-afternoon lunch for 100? I should have known better. Everything Christopher and Melissa create deftly balances deliciousness, comfort, class, and fun. For example, generous pours of prosecco and Ramazzotti dark and stormys; the thoughtful swaths of cheesecloth protecting the tables; fluttering garlands made from covers of their latest cookbook, Pronto. Just when I started feeling weak, knowing that I can never live up to the effortless perfection of it all, the tomato toss let loose. Kids and adults donned garbage bags and pelted each other with late-season rotten tomatoes. Elio, who unsurprisingly chose to go protection-free, couldn’t get over that the melee was for real—and adult-sanctioned. Another Canal House convert.

The Farm Dinner at Stockton Market

The season is just starting to turn—the mornings are crisp, the afternoon sun slants a little lower, our slippers are back in rotation—so it was the perfect week for Ian Knauer and Geraldine Campbell to host a harvest dinner at the Stockton Farm Market. Ian, one of Kate’s old cohorts from Gourmet, is hoping to open a cooking school soon, and the dinner was an introduction to all that is good and Ian. We volunteered to help out for the evening (and licked some plates clean behind the scenes). Favorite tastes: Ian’s gorgeous pain d’epi smeared with bacon butter (for real!) and the pure and simple salt-roasted beet puree. On our way out, we nabbed a few hunks of that crusty bread and ate it this morning with homemade Nutella and marmalade. Bring it, autumn! ian storyboard

Grilling for Applegate Farms

Capricious Mother Nature and her sun kept us guessing most of the day, but finally the light was right and we were able to dive into this grilling shoot. An old friend dropped in just as we were finishing up—always a nice way to end the week! grillingstoryboard