March 24, 2015

Solution for the overwhelmed Art Buyers and Creatives:

The great thing about having a rep like Heather Elder is that she is tuned into what is going on in the industry- even more than me! While my studio and I are scurrying about shooting a job or doing pre or post production, she and Lauranne are out there finding out what people are thinking, what they are responding to and what kind of stuff is starting to bubble up. As a group (photographers of Heather Elder) we like to be on top of all that and know how we can effectively market to our potential and existing clients. All that said, Heather has discovered a resistance to the emailers that so frequently come through the inboxes of so many art buyers, photo editors and creatives. Granted some are grateful for seeing some of them, but others are looking for a solution. Heather offers this:  One Emailer A Month. One emailer from her a month showcasing all of her photographers. Keeps you up to date on what we are doing, but doesn't clog the inbox. We are curious as to what you think?

Here is her post about it on her hugely popular blog Notes From A Reps Journal:


For the last few years, email blasts have been a hot button issue for sure. Every now and then the heated debate starts up all over again.  There aren’t many topics in our industry that can incite such road rage, but the email blast one does every time.
I never fully entered into the debate because I never had a solution.  I understood both sides and the few times I did engage in side conversations, I would always try to remind people the importance of being able to actually know who clicked on the e-promo.  Without that information, we cannot be as targeted or relevant in our marketing.  And, without it we no longer know if what we are doing is even working.  It used to be that we knew who was looking at the work because portfolios were requested, but not now. Now, we need to rely on the email blast data to learn anything specific about who is interested.  An email blasts is the ONLY marketing tool that offers that kind of specific data.
On the other side, I would hear stories of overflowing in boxes, emails at all hours, photos that weren’t at all relevant to what the person needed.  Many use words such as torture, annoying and irrelevant.  One art producer friend asked me to imagine sitting at my desk trying to get work done and waiting for an important fedex to arrive.  She said to then imagine that the doorbell was ringing every five minutes and I had to stop what I was doing and answer the door each time because I needed that fedex.  Well, instead it was the mailman and all he had was junk mail for me and I had no where to put it all.  Exasperating.
Over the years, things have gotten so extreme that recipients have hosted websites that shame photographers and reps that send the e-promos and belittle the process.  Of course the irony of them bashing any form of marketing given our business is not lost on many of us.  These types of sites always come with derogatory URLs and comments that are equivalent to cyber bullying.  Not a very productive way to start a conversation or look for a solution.
Then one day, the same art producer friend called me to vent some more about e-promos. At first, the conversation was the same. The mailman metaphor, the overflowing mailbox, the understandable annoyance. But then she said something that I hadn’t heard before. She said, “You know Heather, agencies are starting to block email blasts from the provider’s servers.”
I had never heard that before. And, I knew then, that I no longer could avoid the conversation because I didn’t have a solution. I had to have a solution.
Well, a solution we have! An experiment of sorts. And, it is called OneEmailerAMonth. It is a site dedicated to showcasing the e-promos from our photographers. You can easily scroll through the collection, search by specialty or even by photographer.  You can even link to their websites if you want to go deeper.
What is different though with this experiment, is that we will be throwing out all of our old lists and starting over. Our very last blast will be to be an invitation to participate. And, then no more email blasts (for a while anyway!)
My theory is this. We know art producers, clients and creatives all want some sort of e-promos. They just want to be in control of which ones they get and how often.  They want transparency and control and do not want to show up on some random list they cannot easily unsubscribe from.    By choosing to receive our promos, we are giving them just that.  Rather than sending 8 per month, we will be sending just one.  ONE that they have asked to receive.
I fully suspect that our numbers will be way down for a few months while we build a following.  However, if the average click through on a regular emailer yields us 10-15%, we know now that the numbers of followers we need are actually not that hard to achieve.
Now, if we determine after a few months that it is actually hurting us to not be sending out our e-promos to our original contacts, then we will have learned a valuable lesson and will start over.  But at the very least, we will have tried something different and started a productive conversation that we hope will help start find real solutions for an entire industry.

November 12, 2014

James Fink from Wine WIthout Worry Asks My Philosophy on Shooting Food

November 4, 2014

Student Interview- Questions on Food Photography

Every now and then I get contacted by a student or someone breaking into the business of food photography. Honestly I wish I had time to answer everybody's questions and help everyone out, but the truth is that with shooting alot, running a business and having a family keeps me a bit tied up. I did manage to sneak in some time to respond to a student's inquiry. I thought some of her questions were pretty good and some of the "interview" was worth sharing.

Hey Leigh, these are the questions that I have for you:

What do you think makes a good food image?  An image that has appetite appeal- you want to grab that food and shove it in your mouth- evokes an emotional response.  YUM!

What type of lighting techniques do you favor? I am a daylight shooter- which doesn't mean I don't know how to use different studio lighting when needed.  Over the years I have learned to manipulate daylight to do whatever I want it to do- and sometimes that is to just let it do what it does naturally!

Are shadows desirable when it comes to food photography? Really depends on the message of the shot and the kind of food you are shooting.   Shadows are a detail to help communicate something about the context of your shot.  Warm and cozy?  Sunny and outdoorsy?  Clean and fresh?

What type or style of food images seems to be the most popular in
today’s market? Ones that communicate well.  Right now you see food images in a few different styles and lighting scenarios - but I think overall what is popular is approachable and delicious.  

I love the fact that all your images are so sharp and inviting.
What kind of camera do you use? Which do you believe is more important
the styling aspect or the type of camera that is being used, or do
they both go hand in hand? Is there a particular beginner camera that
you recommend?  I shoot with a Phase One camera that is somewhat unapproachable for anyone who isn't an established shooter.  I invested in it because I have some very big clients who use my images in many different ways so need huge flexibility.  Other than that, I think that the Canon cameras are very good for professional use and are more cost effective.
What recommendations would you have for an aspiring food photographer?
What do you think about my blog?
I like the way you are trying different lighting for different subject matter.  At this stage shooting a lot and looking at a ton of imagery- figuring out what you like and then applying that to your own shooting is a great approach.  Also doing what you are doing- asking questions.  In NY there is an event called Photo Expo-that you should try to attend.  There are many workshops offered.

October 13, 2014

Sharing: Cathy Huyghe Reviews "The Essences of Wine" for Forbes Magazine. I Think I Love This Woman!

FOOD & DRINK  71 views

Wine In Words + Pictures: A Book Review Of The Book That Almost Wasn't

Note: This is the first in a two-part series about wine book publishing, inspired by the October 1 release of The Essence of Wine: Celebrating the Delights of the Palate, written by Alder Yarrow and photographed by Leigh Beisch.
Yarrow is one of the most successful of the current generation’s wine writers, with one of the most popular and longest-established websites at His site has been nominated for a James Beard award, and he is a regular columnist at
Here’s the thing. Even with all of his credentials and all of his audience, Yarrow could not find a publisher for his book.
In today’s post, I review the book itself, which Yarrow published thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign on In tomorrow’s post, we’ll look at what this example says about the state of wine publishing today.
First, a review of the book.
We’ve all been there.
We take a sip of wine, or smell it in the glass, and there’s something there we recognize…
But we can’t for the life of us put our finger on what it is. It’s some smell, or some taste, or even some color that we know we know, but for some reason can’t name.
There’s an incredibly helpful aid when you’re in that situation. It’s called the power of suggestion. It works because, even though you didn’t identify the smell or the taste on your own, if someone suggests what it might be, you immediately say, “Yes! That’s exactly it.”
Now, the power of suggestion comes in book form.
It’s called The Essence of Wine: Celebrating the Delights of the Palate, written by Alder Yarrow and photographed by Leigh Beisch.
I read it as an e-book, though it was originally envisioned (and also printed) as a coffee table book. Beisch’s imaginative, luscious photographs fit that bill perfectly. There is one photograph for each of 47 distinct, short entries about well-recognized aromas and flavors of wine.
The chapter titled Harvest, for example, is filled with entries about whole, natural fruits like cherry, plum, and watermelon. The Terrain chapter features elements like earth, sea, wet stone, oak, and graphite. The Garden chapter is more vegetable in nature, with entries about dried herbs and white flowers and something called “garrigue” (which turns out to be the herbal underbrush of Provence). And the Kitchen chapter is the most “processed” of the four, in that most entries are crafted rather than primary flavors. There’s buttered popcorn, for example, chocolate, licorice, cured meats, and bread.
Wine writers derive enormous pleasure in describing exactly these things. For me the pleasure would be in choosing just the right descriptors and building the structure of punctuation around it. For Yarrow it’s the pleasure of finding those things, again and again, as he’s tasted through thousands of wines.
“With every new bottle comes the excitement of sticking my nose in the glass to see what slice of the world will leap out at me,” Yarrow writes in the Introduction. Symmetrically, in a later essay, he verbalizes the prayer that the time never comes when wine loses its magic for him. He is a man in love — with wine — and, when you see wine the way Yarrow does, who could blame him?

It’s the seeing of the wine, and Beisch’s photographs, that positively secure the success of this book.
The photographs parse out, one by one, the different dimensions of the 47 distinct aromas and flavors. As the photograph for the Lemon entry suggests, there really is a difference between the lemon peel, the lemon juice, a cut lemon, and the lemon rind. It isn’t necessarily a distinction you notice at first, either in the photograph or in your glass. But this is an exercise in articulation, after all.
For me, Yarrow is at his most articulate when he evokes an aroma or flavor, when he sets up the reader to fill in the gaps of a description with our own imagination. His entry on Candle Wax, for example, goes like this:
It belongs with the sound of slowly creaking doors, the smell of old books and the feel of parchment on the fingers… Riesling aficionados certainly know a good thing when they smell it. [Time] brings new dimensions to many white grapes, but especially Riesling… Smelled more often than tasted, notes of molten candle wax bring a surprising dimension to wine, lending a gravitas that plays foil to other flavors as it whispers mysteriously of times gone by.
There are kernels of insight in the text that can move tasters, who want to be expressiveabout wine, from Point A to Point B: how graphite indicates the alchemy of expensive wood and wine, or why Cabernet speaks deeply and gracefully of tobacco, or why Nebbiolo hosts the scent of violets.
Fortunately there is an audience for exactly this kind of information. During an interview just last week, for example, I was asked this question: “I know I love the flavor of apples, and peaches, but how do I find those flavors in a wine?”
Yarrow offers an answer. For each of the 47 entries, he includes eight wines from around the world that exhibit that particular aroma or flavor. It’s enough to start a curious reader off on a wine journey around the world, or at least to new aisles in their favorite wine store.
The entry on Apple AAPL +0.55%, for example, points you toward Trebbiano (from Italy’s Veneto region), Chardonnay (from Burgundy), Riesling (from the Mosel region of Germany), Sauvignon Blanc (form the Loire), AlbariƱo (from Rias Baixas in Spain), and Moschofilero (from Greece).
For me this is the most impressive part of the book from a functional perspective, because it connects the dots between a flavor and where you’re likely to find it.
One of the greatest compliments to a writer is to take the time to read their work. I’ve done that with Yarrow, and I’ll take it a step further: I’ll buy his book, not just for the writing but because it’s useful – to page through in order to invoke the power of suggestion I mentioned at the beginning of this article, or to pass among friends who are over for an impromptu party, especially if one of them is new to wine.
For all of the creativity and imagination it yields, this book makes me anxious, too, for the traditional publishers who didn’t appreciate the potential of Yarrow’s proposal when they held in their hands.
That is a story for another day — tomorrow, in fact, when we’ll look at the unconventional path this book has taken to publication. Given the roadkill of rejections that litter that path, we’ll consider what the implications of its publication.
Follow me on Twitter TWTR -0.52% @cathyhuyghe.

October 6, 2014

Taking the Show on the Road-Hong Kong

Last year I was awarded a fabulous shoot for a long time client. For the second time in 5 years I had the opportunity to go to China for a three week shoot for my client's international partners.

I always like a challenge, but shooting a large scale food shoot in China proved to be a tough one, fortunately with some good producers, leads and persistence, we managed to line everything up. The first challenge was finding a studio that would accommodate the set ups we needed for this scale shoot. As it turns out, Hong Kong is more of a fashion city so most studios are not equipped with sufficient kitchens for this scale of a food shoot. Also space is expensive there so many studios are pretty small- so finding one that had kitchen space, proper lighting and size appropriate for the shoot was one of the bigger challenges. My local producer was persistant and she and I started thinking of alternative spaces. She ended up finding a live work loft in an industrial part of town which suited our needs. Our props were sourced in San Francisco and shipped.We used a shipping company that was used to all the challenges of sending things to China and through their customs. It was a ton of production, required a great deal of organization, but in the end a fantastic, successful project. I truly believe that obsessing over production details ahead of time leads to a much more enjoyable and therefore creative shoot.

Photo shoots invariably have some sort of curve ball that needs to be worked around (late delivery of products, or a client changes their mind on something.) The more you can take out variables ahead of time, the better you will be suited to accomodate the last minute changes. When shooting in Hong Kong it was even more important to do that. We had shipments of product that was flying in from different countries so on time delivery was not always guaranteed. Luckily we had a very persistent and resourceful client who knew how to get things done. Still we needed flexibility and since we had set ourselves up so well ahead of time we were able to afford that.

One of my other favorite stories the trip was that after all the effort to secure the studio that was so accommodating, after two days into the shoot we started to hear horribly loud drilling sounds coming from two floors below which was also vibrating the building. My producer swiftly went down to check out what was going on.  Construction was just starting on a lower floor and they were jackhammering the concrete walls and floors. We could barely stand the noise so I asked the producer to go and see what she could do. Shortly after she came up and said that they would only do the jackhammering on the weekends!  Wow- thank goodness we had someone who could communicate with them!

Although shooting in Hong Kong posed some challenges, it was a great city to work in.  Coming from San Francisco I felt almost at home in this vibrant international city.

October 3, 2014

Book Signing!

How fun! The Essence of Wine books are in! Sara and I got a visit from wine blogger Alder Yarrow with 200 lbs of books for us to sign for his Kickstarter thank you party. We got to see our book in print finally! The Essence of Wine is out and available on Blurb Books. Tomorrow however, you can get it at Omnivore Books in San Francisco and meet Alder. He will be down there from 3-4 tomorrow, October 4th.

Address is:

Omnivore Books on Food

3885a Cesar Chavez Street
(at Church Street)
San Francisco, CA 94131 OR

Here are some photos of our fun book signing/wine tasting. Great wine by the way-Alder knows his *hit!

September 16, 2014

Shooting a Cookbook

One of my favorite kind of projects is to shoot a cookbook. Shooting a cookbook means that for an extended period of time- one week, two weeks... you get to sink your teeth into a subject. So far I have had the delicious opportunity to shoot books on subjects as diverse as BBQ, ice cream, baking, kids baking and cooking, pickling, Japanese cooking, Chinese cooking, Vietnamese cooking, Irish cooking, infusing alcohol, tea, olives, apples, bread, vanilla, marshmallows, cooking with all parts of the animal, including FAT... well, perhaps I will stop there. All have been great fun, hard work and learning a lot about each subject. The icing on the cake is getting the opportunity to meet and sometimes work with the author. At the beginning of this year I worked on a book that offered me the chance to work for the second time with a legend in the baking world. Working with the author Alice Medrich I have learned to appreciate the subtlety of ingredient flavors complementing each other. I saw how a chef with a refined palatte can balance this so well. I try to do that justice in my photographs. I always have to be careful about how much I say about my projects so I need to leave it at that. I will disclose more when it is published by Artisan later this year.