Raise your hand if you don’t own an iron…

I love getting inquiries from new companies, especially from industries that I haven’t worked in very often. Today I was asked about my experience photographing textiles. At first I kind of stumbled to think of examples, but after our phone call I went digging in the laundry (hard drives) and realized that I do have a lot more experience with textiles than I thought… which I owe largely to my five years of photographing the talented artisans of Fibershed.

So here is me, putting my best wrinkle forward…

PaigeGreen-textiles-M2.0SLucky for me owning an iron isn’t a job requirement for photographing textiles… but being friends with talented stylists who do own such devices is. And from this day forward, I vow to never leave home without my stylist when photographing textiles again. 

My Best Tip-Toe Forward…

Last week I received a phone call from a well-known company asking to see my portfolio. They wanted to see still life, food and some people (because they don’t usually do much photography of people.)

While that phone call was very exciting, the problem was that no one had ever asked me to send in an actual printed portfolio before… so I didn’t have a portfolio to send.

Inspired, I started enthusiastically dragging out the hard drives and digging though the archives. Eventually I came up with a portfolio containing my most favorite 137 photos.

Luckily my talented graphic designer and trusty adviser, Tyler Young, said 137 photos might be a tad too many. So reluctantly, I whittled the portfolio down and here it is… my best (abridged) attempt to tip-toe further into the commercial world of still-life and food… with just a few people.

This is how we do it, and you can do it too…

Nature created amazing plants.

Rebecca Burgess dyed wool into cool colors… with the amazing plants that nature created.

Heidi Iverson designed patterns and knit fun gloves and a blanket… with the wool that Rebecca Burgess dyed into cool colors… from the amazing plants that nature created.

Beautiful ladies and cute children modeled the fun gloves and blanket that Heidi Iverson designed and knit… with the wool that Rebecca Burgess dyed into cool colors… from the amazing plants that nature created.

I took photos of the beautiful ladies and cute children… who modeled the fun gloves and blanket that Heidi Iverson designed and knit… with the wool that Rebecca Burgess dyed into cool colors… from the amazing plants that nature created.

All of this teamwork is for Rebecca Burgess’s book about creating dyes with native plants from the different regions in the United States. Her ultimate goal is to help people become more aware about their fiber-shed, which means thinking about wearing clothes that are made locally, just like the food we eat. Through her book, Rebecca hopes to show people how easy it is to create vibrant colors and cool clothes from the plants that are in our own environment.

It has been a fantastic project to work on and I can’t wait to see how all this teamwork comes out in the end.

Food Glorious Food…


Since my arrival in California in 2001… I have eaten countless amazing meals. The new culinary world I landed in opened doors for my tastebuds that I didn’t even know existed. So you would think, this being such an important new adventure for me that I would have better documentation of this new edible adventure. But I don’t.

I just ate without stopping to document, let alone chew.

So when asked to present the samples of my food photography, I am embarrassed to say that I don’t have too much to show for my 8 years in food bliss. I feel guilty when I think of all that potential that was just consumed without regard to my future photography needs.

Even tonight… Arann made a beautiful dish of pasta with colorful veggies that he arranged perfectly in a bowl with complimentary colors… and as we sat on the front porch to eat, I said, “This is so pretty, I should photograph this, especially since my task is to present beautiful food photos.” But I didn’t…. I just dug right in and started shoveling that pasta until it was gone.

And as my punishment… I spent the evening digging through all my external hard drives searching for anything that I could justify putting in a food portfolio. My selection is pretty slim. I do have lots of butchering photos, from my farm living days, but I am not quite sure that is what the editor called for.

So from this day forth, I vow to do a better job of recording the food that is presented to me, before I quickly ingest it. In the meantime this is what I have, thanks to my gardener friends and a few: PR gigs, camping trips, Easter buffets, weddings and magazine assignments.




























10 am – Faux Fur Coats and Vodka…


This is The Graziano, of Petaluma’s Graziano’s Ristorante, with his daughter Sonia.

Together they are the perfect combination of traditional and progressive. He was born and raised and Italy – she was born and raised in California. He brought his mother’s recipe for gnocchi to Petaluma, and she brought the Martini Bar.

And together they created the Vodka Lounge, which is unlike anything I have have experienced. Granted, our photo shoot was at 10 in the morning, not the normal Vodka Lounge hours, but even still… it was pretty amazing.

The experience involves a glass ice box that you walk into, big comfy faux fur coats, and a blue wall of incredible looking bottles with very tempting contents. Unfortunately, I was working, and it was 10 am, so I only had a tiny taste of one, but the models certainly enjoyed the tastes and the smiles got bigger and bigger as the photo shoot went on.


One cool vodka fact I learned was that Petaluma has locally made Vodkas… like the blue bottle above. So there’s another product to add to your Made Here shopping list.





So the next time you are in P-town, or passing through, and you feel like having a unique tasting experience (food and drink) then check out Graziano’s. And if you get a chance to talk to The Graziano himself… ask him to sing for you, or even better, ask him to describe how gnocchi is made… it is an extra special and very authentic treat.

My week last week…

What I learned about product photography:

  • steaming is better than ironing.
  • swabs are better than plastic squeezey things that blow air when you want to clean your digital sensor.
  • t-pins, straight pins with glass heads, and bubble wrap can come in handy when you want to add life to your still life.
  • computer capture would be better than camera capture…if your computer wanted to capture the photos.
  • table-top would be better than floor-top… but if it is on the floor then stretch at the same time in order to get your daily exercise.
  • changing the color in photoshop is much easier than trying to make 12 items look wrinkle free, lint free, and positioned exactly the same way (ps: there is a color replacement tool in CS3 that will change the color for you… although still tricky to match the exact color you want… it is ridiculously easy.)
  • calling your friend Jon, who knows how to do all this stuff already, is much better than trying to figure it out all by yourself.
  • photographing people without clothes is a lot easier than photographing clothes without people.

Summer in Rebecca’s Garden…

My good friend Rebecca runs the Sonoma Garden Park garden and she has started her own business helping people plant and maintain organic fruit and veggies in their own gardens. Rebecca wanted some photos for her business and to help promote the garden and she thought I might get some good photos for my stock photography project. Arann and I were late and I was bummed that we were going to miss the good evening light… but we made it just in time. We had lots of fun eating yummy fruit, arranging bouquets for her Saturday market and drinking cold micro-brews. It was a perfect Friday night and these are my favorite photos….

Photos that make you want to eat pizza…

My second gig for the PR company while I was in London, was photographing Vapiano, a new restaurant near Oxford Circus. Still no flash, but this time, thanks to the two-story wall of windows and the color red, it was much easier to photograph than the yogurt factory that I photographed a couple of hours earlier that day.

The hardest thing about the shoot was to convince the unsuspecting patrons to let me photograph them while they were eating. London is not the most photography friendly city. I have found that Londoners, as a huge sweeping generalization, are not into having their photo taken. I am not sure whether it is because it is their last shred of control over their image, after having every move documented by the thousands of surveillance cameras all over the city, or just the humble nature that is a part of their culture. Whatever the case, it is not as easy to photograph strangers as it is here in the: I-want-to-be-famous United States. But luckily, I was able to talk a few people into allowing me to unobtrusively document their Vapiano experience that day.

Making Men in Hairnets Look Good….

My most wonderful friend Claudia, who was a classmate of mine at the London College of Communication last year, was getting married in June… and she wanted me to come back to London for her wedding. So as a way to get me there, she asked me to photograph her wedding. At first I said, “No way.” Because with the American dollar being almost half the value of the British pound, there was no way I could afford to go… but then I got creative.

Before I went to London, I sent out a few eager emails to everyone I know saying that I was on my way and ready to work. Luckily for me, I have another wonderful friend in London, and she works for Gabrielle Shaw Communications, a PR company that I did work for while I was living there last year, and sure enough they had some gigs for me.

The first of the two gigs was for Bio Green Dairy, they produce a yogurt drink and they wanted to have images that show that they are a small family-like business and that they do all the work from start to finish. The owner saw my website of children and weddings and (somehow) thought I would be a good fit.

I was very excited to go to a yogurt factory, it would be my first factory photo shoot. But as soon as I walked into the factory, I realized I had a big challenge ahead of me. How do you make an all white room, men wearing all white jump suits, and a white product look good in florescent lighting. And to make it more challenging, I arrived without a flash (because I was living out of a bag and spread between three houses, in three different parts of London, I didn’t have my flash with me… opps.)

So, with no other options, I put my camera’s ISO on 3200, my aperture as low as it could go and I held the camera very very still. And then when I returned home, I searched the Internet to find Photoshop techniques that would turn my horrendously lit and very uninteresting photos into something, anything more. Relying on Photoshop is something new to me. Up until now, I have not manipulated my photos, besides the typical darkroom maneuvers, but this was an emergency, and I have to say, I think it worked out better than I was expecting. If you are interested in knowing the Photoshop trick click here.

And this time, I am sad to say, the Rolleiflex did not succeed. There was just not enough light, color or contrast to make even a black-and-white film photo look good…. oh well, the Rollei can’t win every time.

On a sad note, the only cow at this once dairy farm is now on Bio Green’s truck. The cows, where Bio Green used to get their milk, are now gone and instead the rancher is raising horses. As a result of the loss of local agriculture, Bio Green now has to order powdered milk for their yogurt.

Featuring Bulky Knits


These are some of the fun shots from our Wool Farm Fashion – Shoot #2 (to see session #1 click here.)This time we were doing product shots, which isn’t as fun for me as working with farmers/models, but it is still pretty fun. It is much harder than you would think to make everything look perfect but natural and beautiful at the same time. But I think we are off to a good start.


Marlie was inspired by the rows farmers make in their agricultural fields near her home in West Marin for this sweater.


Not only is Marlie a fiber artist, but she is also a fantastic ceramicist. So it is really cool that she has found a way to combine her two arts into one, like in the sweater above.


And finally Cassie, the love-monster, helps us out by doing what she does best. Although, you can’t tell from the photo, Cassie is completely stressed out at this moment. I saw her sleeping there and decided it would be a good photo… and of course as soon as we starting moving unwanted background objects out of the way, she decided she should move too… so we had to convince her that staying still was a better idea. In the end, I think she understood us when we promised her lots of diet breaking treats as soon as it was all over.

To find more of Marlie’s handwovens and ceramic creations go to her store in Pt Reyes Station… Blackmountain Weavers.

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