R Stuart & Co Sixth Annual Crab Feed

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valls_rstuart43What a fun night! For six years, the lovely people at R. Stuart Wine & Co have been hosting an annual crab feed at their winery. This was our first time, but I overheard the talk around me, it’s clear that this is a party that’s hotly anticipated all year long.  We feasted on fresh crab, drank yummy wines and enjoyed the delightful company of Rob and Maria and other R Stuart fans. I also heard that the volunteer servers and helpers were mostly students, headed up by Rob and Maria’s son, Ben, who were all raising money for a trip to build houses in Nicaragua.


Our Studio

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valls_sheltersolutions_065Last year we designed and built our workspace, taking advantage of Portland’s infill zoning, which let us put a full, legal residence next door to where we live. It’s been a game-changer for John and I. While traffic and congestion have been stacking up all around Portland, we’re feeling all zen here at the compound. It’s a joy to step over at night if one of us is feeling creative. Alternatively, it’s nice to head “home” for lunch or to take a yoga break in the middle of the day. Our cat, Bootsie, loves to come visit or simply peer in the windows from his spot in the garden.

The two-story space, which has a full kitchen, has been terrific for food shoots. With both East and North light that we can control, it gives us every kind of lighting mood that we could possibly ask for. The area that would be the “garage” is stuffed with our props and backgrounds, (and maybe a motorcycle or two). If you’d like to visit and see our space, give us a shout.


St Jack

Recently we we assigned ourselves a project in order to explore shooting food a little differently than in my normal approach – off the tripod and in a darker palette. Through Kristen Saladow of Chefs Table, we teamed up with Chef Aaron Barnett of Restaurant St Jack. We set aside a couple of afternoons to get creative with Aaron. We’d brainstorm ideas and then he would create dishes for us to explore. Aaron was a great partner for our experiment.  And his dishes were a perfect fit for this project since he’s interested in historically-based and somewhat offbeat French recipes, such as the squab dish we shot where the birds are presented with their heads and feet.

salmon dish by chef aaron barnett steak frites and chef aaron barnett at restaurant st jacksquab dish at restaurant st. jack

 


Bandon

I got away recently to the beach at Bandon. It was great to be away from computers and schedules and dragging a heavy camera bag. I felt inspired in the wind and the weather with no plan except to enjoy myself.

the south jetty at bandon

driftwood and seagrass on the beach near Bandon, Oregon

towering seastacks on the beach in Bandon, Oregon


Oregon Humane Society | Brooks Rescue Dogs

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It’s a pleasure to be able to use our talents to help the Oregon Humane Society. In late January, the OHS rescued more than 100 neglected dogs from a failed rescue facility near Salem Oregon. The dogs came to OHS in terrible condition. We were given the opportunity to photograph only some of the healthier dogs–and I think you can see from these photos, what even while the body can be harmed, a dog’s spirit, is well, dogged.

We fell a little in love with every dog. Wiggly, scared, proud, curious or playful. These delightful spirits let us capture their expressions and their feelings. We hope our photos help some of the dogs find their future families. Who do you like best?

Go here for the latest news about the Brooks Rescue Dogs. And here’s the link to OSH’s facebook page.

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“Meat” Lucy Vaserfirer

Who better to explore styling and shooting meat than with the author of Seared to Perfection? Lucy Vaserfirer contacted me a few weeks ago, offered the idea of collaborating on some styling and photography. It struck me as a great idea especially since I’ve been wanting to play around with shooting raw meat. Uncooked meat is, um…. different-looking than a cooked dish and I wanted to find a way to shoot it so that it looks beautiful and interesting.

Lucy turned out to be a fun collaboration partner–she is equally accomplished in cooking as well as styling. Plus I got to taste some incredible compound butters that she brought along to finish the cooked and styled steak.  It was great to do some creative work with no client to please or clock to punch. We styled and shot and ate some great foods and in the end I’m satisfied to come up with a couple great shots that I’ll definitely put in my next portfolio.

A big shout out to Lucy Vaserfirer. Check out Lucy’s blog, Hungry Cravings or her book Seared to Perfection.  I’ll be looking forward to the next time we shoot together.

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Made this while at a mill for an advertising shoot the other day. The light was surreal and the environment reminded me of growing up in Buffalo; icy temperatures & bleak skies.


Foraging with Gene Thiel

Images of Gene Theil, expert mushroom forager

An opportunity came up to visit Gene Thiel out in Joseph Oregon with Chef and food savant Robert Reynolds. We planned to go foraging for Porcini mushrooms in the Wallowa mountains. Gene’s crops of root vegetables were far too young to harvest, so instead this time of year Gene & Patrick had been foraging in order to have products to sell at farmers’ markets.

Gene Thiel is an incredible man and an unbelievable farmer . His level of understanding about plants, the Earth & environment is one that is unmatched by most mortals. Whenever I get a chance to spend time with Gene and his son Patrick I come away with a greater understanding of the symbiosis of the natural world that most of us take for granted.  Plus, he’s a passionate  story teller which makes him all the more interesting to spend time with.

I love trips like this because I get to take my motorbike. The best part of riding is carving up little known roads and the feeling of exploration that comes with it.  That, and having 1200cc of thundering power beneath you. So with the help of Google Maps (which most biker riders are obsessed with) I looked for the most curvy, scenic roads that weren’t gravel or covered by snow.  Want to see my route?

Read Robert’s beautifully written piece about the trip here on his blog

 


Crazy Light

i love the light in Oregon’s Spring – crazy.  One minute black skys, the next, the bluest blues ever.

(the iPhone pic doesn’t do it justice …)