Category Archives: Port City Life

Maine Eats

Maine Eats coverBe sure to check out the July/August issue of Port City Life (soon to be Maine magazine). Inside is a supplement called Maine Eats. I photographed several food-related venues for this issue including the amazing restaurant Fuel in Lewiston (a photo of which adorns the cover at left), the splendid bistro anneke jans in Kittery, and bread and cheese making classes at Stone Turtle Baking School in Lyman and Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport. These are the types of assignments I love—shooting food and people who are passionate about it. I can’t speak highly enough of the food, management and staff at both Fuel and anneke jans. Everyone was incredibly pleasant and accommodating, and I was blown away by the tasty treats coming out of the kitchen. Both restaurants use a lot of fresh, locally grown or harvested food and prepare it in innovative, yet relatively simple ways that allow the true flavors of the food to come through. Living in the Portland area, I am spoiled by the wealth of great restaurants five miles from my home, but it was a treat to witness and sample what’s happening in other parts of the state. I highly recommend special trips to both of these fine restaurants.

The classes at Wolfe’s Neck Farm and Stone Turtle Baking School were equally enlightening and enjoyable. I wrote an earlier post about the bread, butter and cheese making class at the farm with a photo that didn’t fit into the magazine layout. Of course, there’s never enough room with these articles to fit all my favorite photos from the assignment, so I’m including some more here. Enjoy!

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Justin Oliver, the hardworking chef at Fuel, with salmon on a cedar plank, shaved cucumbers and saffron rice.

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Mushrooms, saffron rice and squash risotto over the flame at Fuel.

anneke jans dining room

The dining room at anneke jans is intimate and homey, and almost always bustling!

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Large baskets of pomme frites are a favorite at anneke jans.

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Food, Glorious Food

asparagusLast week when I bit into local asparagus that I had gently grilled to a perfect tender crispness I swooned. It was a spurt of green freshness that I hadn’t tasted in way too many months. Fiddleheads, ramps, and asparagus are just the beginning of a whole host of locally grown fruits and vegetables that we have to look forward to over the coming months. Our garden is mostly planted and now we water and wait. Herbs, such as chives (try putting the lavender blossoms in a salad for a colorful burst of flavor) have sprung forth, and radishes and greens will be on their way shortly. In honor of all this spring food goodness, I’ve started doing food photography again. I took a break after completing the Savoring Maine calendar last year because I was admittedly a bit burnt out on standing for hours hunched over a tripod arranging colorful linens and fiddling with fiddleheads. But now with the pressure off and a new season of glorious fresh food awaiting me, I find I’m interested again in photographing the bounty our state has to offer. This is a shot of asparagus from Jordan’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

While at times it can be very frustrating, I really enjoy styling food shots when I end up with something like the shot above. As you can tell, my style is all about simplicity. Not too many props, no artificial light (although I do employ reflectors for bouncing naturally occurring light), and a pleasing assortment of complementary colors. Shape is important too. In the above photo, the wave of the napkin works well with the curve of the spears. And I do have to admit that doing food photography is a wonderful excuse to buy all kinds of fun kitchenware, such as the antique bread board pictured above that I unearthed at a barn filled floor to ceiling with junk gems in Searsport. I would rather people see something that is appetizing and appealing and is more like what you would see in actual life, than an arrangement that makes you want to lose your lunch. But I fully admit I have a lot to learn. And to that end, in June I’m attending the International Conference on Food Styling and Photography in Boston, which I’m really excited about! I can’t wait to pick up some tips and tricks and meet some seminal figures in the food photo and styling world.

In the past few weeks, I’ve also had the pleasure of shooting at some Maine eateries for upcoming magazine articles, and it’s been a joy to see how they are all using local foods. I’ll post some of my favorite photos from these shoots after Port City Life’s July/August issue hits the newsstands. In the meantime, get cookin’!

Make Your Own

wolfesneckclass_02332Did you know if you shake heavy cream in a jar for about 20 minutes, you’ll have butter? Sure, you can use a churn, but this way requires no extra equipment and is a great upper body work out! This was among the many things I learned in a whirlwind bread, butter and cheese making class that I photographed last weekend for an upcoming magazine article on cooking classes in the state. The class was part of a DIY series of classes at Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport that is teaching participants to make things like marmalade, cheese, wine, soap, candles and knitted items. Check out the schedule and sign up for a class or two that will teach you some fun ways to be more self-sufficient.

Recognize that English Muffin?

Today I had to do a shoot at a restaurant in Portland. I was initially nervous because it’s been quite a while since I’ve shot inside a restaurant. I used to do it regularly in D.C., but that’s a much more anonymous city and people are used to having their space intruded upon. As usual, however, my worries were unfounded. The staff and management made me feel right at home, loaded me up with yummy food and coffee and I was quickly immersed in my job without becoming overly worried about whether people would be bothered by my presence. I find if you walk around like you know what you’re doing, people forget you’re there after a while. I like it when I just blend in. Better photos can be made that way. So here’s one of my faves from today.

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I won’t tell you what restaurant it is, nor who for so as not to spoil the surprise when the issue comes out in March, but go ahead and guess if you like. Hint: They serve brunch. In fact, how about this? The first person who guesses correctly which Portland restaurant this is gets a free Savoring Maine calendar! (Somebody please guess because it will look really lame if I don’t get any comments on this posting.) And you can’t be someone from the restaurant or someone who knows where I was shooting today!

Cover Story

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If you haven’t seen it already, check out the Jan/Feb issue of Port City Life. The content and art direction of this magazine has reached new heights. And I’m not just saying that because I shoot for them (nor because they did a lovely one-page write up on the calendar), NOR because I have the cover image this issue! It was such a pleasure to photograph Stephanie Pilk’s amazing floral creations. The unique plants she uses combined with her incredible eye for dynamic compositions, make her arrangements works of art unto themselves. Check out the inside of the magazine for other photos of mine in the wedding tips article.