by Laurie Ann Burton
Photography was ongoing at the same time as recipe selection. We didn’t have time to solidify the recipes first, so it actually became something of a give-and-take between the recipes we wanted to include in the book and the recipes we wanted for the photography. In the end, each affected the other, and we like the results!
Creating the photographs was a very eye opening experience. I have always appreciated that our books were beautiful and the photographs were very enticing, both for the food and the display. Looking at a photo a year ago, I would give it a once over and say “nice shot.” Now, I have much deeper understanding that the photograph wasn’t accidentally lovely. Every item, in every frame was deliberately selected and placed in the frame. The locations weren’t accidentally beautiful, they were carefully scouted and not just for location, but also for time of day and time of year to have the best natural light possible. Every item in every frame was scouted, selected, transported and placed by hand in the frame to be part of our new book, this includes the dishware, flatware, crystal, linens, floral, candles, in some cases the actual tables and chairs. Each photograph tells a story – a story about the food, the location and life on the Gulf Coast.
The photograph process was a very creative endeavor. I think I mentioned earlier, I am a linear thinker, so creativity is unfortunately not my strong suit. I also found out that as a “linear” I have a very hard time communicating with “creatives”. This became very apparent to me at our first shoot. Our first full shoot (with complex display and food) was the grilling shot by the pool. At the time, I thought this shoot was a total disaster on so many levels, but of course would be proven wrong, again and again, further down the line as later shoots would unravel with much more complicated problems, chiefly the weather! But on this day, we arrive to a backyard that is being torn up, a grill that is not going to work as the centerpiece of the shot and a temperature hovering around mid-90s. Say it isn’t so… change!!! No… we linear thinkers hate change! Luckily for me, creatives think on their feet. So, instead of shooting the food actually on the grill, it is decided it will now by a grill buffet by the pool, instead of showing much background, we will focus on the pool and the immediate surrounding foliage. So the creatives got to work with the new scenario and I (the only linear amongst us) went off to shop for the necessary flowers and foliage to fill in the gaps where plants had been pulled out. So I spent my time potting geraniums and tying silverware bundles while the creatives got to the dressing of the table and display of food. Did I mention it was mid-90s? So here we all are, sweating profusely, the table is set, the drinks are melting fast, really fast, and the flies are starting to hover. While the photographer shot frame after frame, Stacey stood, just out of range, fanning the table with a huge palm frond to try to keep the flies off the food and out of the shot! It turned out to be a great shot and it wasn’t until reviewing it months later that I realized we totally forgot to take the Key Lime Pie out of the fridge and put it on the table! Oh well, who will notice other than me…