Food Photography & Styling | April Assignment | Pasta | Longboat Key Photographer

Ready for another challenge assignment from ladies of The Inspired Plate?  I can’t believe it’s already venturing into the latter part of April….I’m not sure where the heck time went.

Anyway, this month is all about styling and photographing a pasta dish.  I looove pasta as most folks do so I was looking forward to this assignment.  But what to make????  And what would photograph well??  Since it’s spring and has been consistently in the 80s here in Florida for weeks, the thought of a heavy or rich pasta dish didn’t seem quite appealing, so I developed an easy recipe – Ditalini Caprese  – which can be served warm or at room temperature and is light and fresh in taste.  And – it’s KID-FRIENDLY which is (unfortunately still) an important feature at our house.  There is ALWAYS fresh mozzarella in our fridge – yes, always.  I made the mistake of running out once or twice and it was not a good thing  according to my 12 year old son.  You see, I somehow managed to get him to try it way back when (and he liked it!) and it’s part of the reason that he warmed up to eating salads. So now if it’s left out of a salad, uh-oh.  Oh he’ll still eat it, but it’s not quite the same.

Okay, on to the recipe and photos….

 

 

It’s really delicious for lunch, a side dish, or a take-along to gathering.

Here is a pullback of the final shot:

My settings on manual were f/4.0, shutter 1/125, and ISO 250.  I was in the shade in the front area of my garage, with my diffuser panel handy to diffuse the strong mid-morning sun.  In hindsight, I feel the green of the plate clashes with the green of the basil, so another lesson learned.  As always, things look different in different types of light!

Do you use a garlic press?  I had one years ago and then at some point they didn’t seem to be “cool” anymore.  I don’t know what happened to mine – it probably got sold along with all of my *ahem* valued food props when my husband commissioned an estate sale for much of the contents of our NY house, along with the contents of his parent’s house .  I still don’t think I’ve quite gotten over that!  Although I generally mince my garlic with a knife, I did pick up a new press at some point in time.

As always, our blogs are linked to form a circle.  Please continue on to see what pasta dishes the rest of our group styled and shot, starting with Jennifer Olson | San Luis Obispo, CA Photographer.  She’s darn good at making food look scrumptious.

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Amanda Eller - April 20, 2012 - 9:13 am

Oh Stacey! I always love your shots! I love that last shot…the tomatoes are gorgeous and shiny! Looks yummy too, bet my kids will love it!

Tammy Bilodeau - April 20, 2012 - 9:54 am

Oh this looks lovely! I have never seen that type of pasta before!! Very interesting. Your pictures are beautiful, the color of your tomatoes just sings “Summertime” to me. Beautiful addition to this months theme as always. :)
Thanks for the pull back, I love seeing these and WOW on the size of that reflector hee hee hee…..

Tiffany | Develop - April 20, 2012 - 11:00 am

Gorgeous, Stacey!! Those colors!! It all looks so fresh and light and airy. Perfect springtime dish. Love that wooden bowl with the tomatoes and your entire color palette. Great job!

Jen Olson - April 20, 2012 - 11:05 am

I LOVE the colors!! This looks straight out of a magazine ad! Awesome job!! Thank you for sharing your setup, I love that!!

Laurie - April 20, 2012 - 12:57 pm

Stacey!!! I love your style.. it is so fresh and inviting! Love your photo’s and that recipe.. oh my goodness.. Caprese salad’s are one of my favs.. so the caprese pasta dish is a must to try!

Love you much friend and am so happy to share in this journey with you!! xoxo

Kat - April 20, 2012 - 4:09 pm

Beautiful job Stacey. I love your green bowl and the tomatoes and an awesome burst of color. Thanks for showing your set up as well. Your vent would make an interesting backdrop as well.

Kim - Liv LIfe - April 20, 2012 - 4:37 pm

Beautiful Stacey! I didn’t notice the green on green until you mentioned it, but I did notice the green bowl and thought how much I liked it. I have white, yep, white everything! I need to keep my eye out for new colors.
And the recipe I adore! This is one that would work in my family as well, we are still in the kid-friendly mode as well. Somehow I”m not sure those years will ever end!
Thank you for the lovely comments… you always make me smile!
Xo

Carrie Terrones (Las Vegas Photographer) - April 22, 2012 - 1:23 pm

I love the detail you put into your food posts as well as seeing the pullback. So cool and looks like a delicious dish!

Carey Pace - April 23, 2012 - 12:33 pm

I LOVE ditalini for kids and this looks yumtastic!!! I love how you included the pull back shot as well. I always love how you manage and manipulate the light for your food images. This has me aching for summer here with fresh tomatoes and basil!!!

The P Family from Kansas | Longboat Key Photographer

I’m a little behind on my blog posts, as well as pretty much every thing else at the moment, but I will definitely catch up!

I photographed this family shortly before I went away on our Spring Break  – are they not the most gorgeous family??   The final number of edited images was amazing and I hope that many of them will become keepsakes in their family.  Their little girl was adorable and really managed the shoot extremely well for being only four.

 

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SimonaN - May 15, 2012 - 6:07 pm

Wonderful images and portraits. Gee, I’m looking forward to summer! Love these shots!

Natalia - May 15, 2012 - 6:17 pm

What a gorgeous family! Love all of them!

Jenne - May 15, 2012 - 9:14 pm

These are stunning!

Robin - May 15, 2012 - 9:43 pm

Beautiful family and great beach portraits!

Carla J - May 15, 2012 - 10:23 pm

Beautiful family and is she too cute? Love the dad/daughter photo and the silhouette. Great work.

Ava Hristova - May 15, 2012 - 11:55 pm

Absolutely beautiful. What a great looking family

Gina Wade - May 16, 2012 - 7:18 am

What a beautiful family!! I LOVE the picture of daddy and daughter walking on the beach. They are all so pretty. Great work :)

Kim - May 16, 2012 - 4:02 pm

Beautiful job! I love the mother-daughter shots!

Sandi - May 16, 2012 - 6:45 pm

Stunning photo’s! Such a great looking family!

Kelly - May 16, 2012 - 9:58 pm

Makes me wish I lived near a beach…I love the daddy and daughter shot!

Jamie Rubeis - May 17, 2012 - 1:08 am

Beautiful Family. Love that sunset one.

sally - May 17, 2012 - 4:07 pm

Ooh, love the silhouette and the one with daddy and daughter walking. Great work!

Susy - May 19, 2012 - 6:44 pm

Beautiful family! Great beach shots!

AshleyS - May 20, 2012 - 12:59 am

beautiful photos-gorgeous location!

Jo Clark - May 21, 2012 - 3:15 pm

Wow…what a gorgeous family! Adore the one of day and daughter walking away. Lovely work.

Andrea - May 22, 2012 - 10:30 am

These are gorgeous! What a beautiful family- and a great location! Love the sunset one… :)

Food Photography & Styling | March Assignment | “Splash” | Longboat Key Photographer

If you are new to my blog or recent posts, I joined a group of fellow photographers in early January who were all interested in furthering their food photography and styling skills.  January’s challenge was a fruit on a white background, and February was a raw and cooked vegetable presented in diptych form.  And this month?  A “splash” challenge which is just what it sounds like – dropping something into a type of liquid and capturing the splash.

Let’s just say I’m looking forward to NEXT month’s challenge, which is styling and photographing a pasta dish – definitely much more up my food alley so to speak.

But this was fun – and it was a nice excuse to do something together with my son, who at his age prefers Xbox Live with his buddies than anything else.  He gets a kick out of things like this that have an element of potential failure or a complete mess – those things seem to humor him.  Hmm.

We chose strawberries and water.  He was the dropper-into-the-glass and I was the photographer.  No flash, no tripod – just a high shutter speed and seemingly steady hand with my much lighter 50 1.4 lens on instead of my 24-70 heavy guy (but I should have used a tripod anyway).

Settings were 1/8000 shutter speed, aperture f/2.8, and ISO 320 using my 50 1.4 Canon lens. The high shutter speed will “freeze” the motion whereas a lower shutter speed will create blur.

And sorry for my crooked table.  As you can see, the horizon is relatively straight.  Unfortunately, my terrain off of my lanai is not.  I’m used to it.  It’s not easy to walk on either.

Fun to have a couple of outtakes – in the first one below I was way ahead of the drop and captured the strawberry during its descent; in the second, the strawberry actually dropped right onto the side of the glass rim, spearing it!!!  Needless to say, my son found that accidental drop completely hilarious.  We broke out laughing so hard.  That’s not an easy feat!

Overall, we had to refill the glass several times, dry off the table in between shots, and pick up quite a few strawberries scattered throughout the grass for all the totally missed shots.  But it was a fun way to spend an hour with my son.

Please stayed tuned for next month’s challenge we would love it if you continued on through our blog circle to see how the ladies in The Inspired Plate (yes, we have a new name!) fared with this month’s challenge.  I’ve had a peek at a few and they’re great!!  Up next is Carey Pace, Kingsport TN Lifestyle Photographer – she is so awesome and I LOVE her work.

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[…] over to Stacey Siegal | Longboat Key Photographer and see what she came up with for her splash photo challenge this […]

Kim - Liv Life - March 20, 2012 - 11:41 am

Well done Stacey! And hand held, I’m totally impressed. I’ve become SO dependent on my tripod that I can hardly shoot without it anymore.
I enlisted my family on this one too and we all had a blast!! Looking forward to pasta, but it’s the whole styling thing that has me a bit worried. Time to get thinking!

laura - March 20, 2012 - 12:39 pm

Awesome! I seriously think you’ve got a future in this – your food shots are always fab!

Jen - March 20, 2012 - 1:45 pm

So awesome!! Love the colors and what a great splash!

Tammy Bilodeau - March 20, 2012 - 3:39 pm

Oh these are lovely Stacey. Love the bright bursts of colour and the big “splash” Nicely done. :)

Christina - March 20, 2012 - 8:17 pm

This is so fun Stacey! I love the new blog too!

Tiffany | Develop - March 20, 2012 - 9:39 pm

How awesome is that speared strawberry, Stacey?? I love these. It is so fun to see the spontaneous things you captured during this shoot. Fabulous splash, great colors. lovely lighting.

Shannon - March 20, 2012 - 10:26 pm

Very cool! I love it!

Carey Pace - March 21, 2012 - 10:42 am

I don’t know if I’m tainted since I know you live at the beach, but your splash image even has a beachy feel to it, to me!!! I love it and the cleanness. And the speared berry!!! just too much! I can only imagine the entertainment your son got from that.

Amanda Eller - March 21, 2012 - 1:25 pm

I LOVE THAT GLASS!!! I need it, gotta have it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in pink…I have some in a brown/yellow color. These shots are great. I love your style!!

Kat - March 21, 2012 - 10:30 pm

LOVE the speared strawberry! I should have used those instead of rocks in my attempts. :) Great dramatic splash. love it!

gina - March 22, 2012 - 12:04 am

i discovered this project when i posted on our lemonade and lenses wall asking who might be interested in a foodie issue…i checked out a few who responded and landed on this challenge. there is nothing like a challenge/project to push yourself/grow and just have fun. i love that you included that your son helped you and the outtakes. looking forward to more;) gina (lemonade and lenses as well as 513{eats}

Laurie - March 22, 2012 - 5:07 pm

I spent DAYS looking for the right lemonade glass.. and here you had it all along!! :)
Love LOVE your splash photo’s Stacey!! And I don’t know if you can see it, but you have an ice skater on the top photo on the left, with his/her arms and one leg extended. Do you see it?? Such poise! :) I too am looking forward to the next assignment.. yay!!

Allison Jacobs - March 25, 2012 - 6:44 pm

These images remind me of a summer day with a bit of the green grass & the fruit! Love them!

Food Photography & Styling | February Assignment | Vegetable(s) Two Ways Raw and Cooked with Photo Diptych | Longboat Key Photographer

If you are new to my blog, I joined a group of awesome photographers last month to both challenge ourselves and to gain valuable experience in the area of food photography and styling.  It’s a whole heck of a lot different than photographing people as I think most of us can attest to!  Our assignment for February is to style and photograph a vegetable (or two or more) in its or their raw as well as cooked states and then to present them on our blogs in a diptych (two side-by-side photos).

In case you missed our January assignment, you can find it HERE.

So…..let’s just say the last four weeks went by FAST in preparation for February’s challenge.  I studied a few side-by-side presentations on the blogs of esteemed pros in the food photography and styling fields, and visited our local farmer’s market three times to hunt and procure produce and to ultimately initiate some type of plan for this challenge.  I wanted to choose an unusual vegetable – so I was thrilled to find little garden boxes of heads and florets of Romanesco, or Romanesco broccoli as it’s also referred to, a week ago Saturday at the market.  I purchased a good amount but also figured that it would be something I could also find at this Saturday’s market in case my photos were blah or my recipe flopped.

Romanesco broccoli is a variant form of cauliflower and it resembles cauliflower in many ways – but it’s got a wild lime-green color and has these weird, spiraled cones jutting out of it.  It’s actually more creamy and nutty than either broccoli or cauliflower, and can be used in place of either.  Just happens to look like an alien vegetable……

Fast-forward to yesterday.  I had already taken the veggie raw state photos last week, but still needed to get my cooked version done which meant developing a recipe.  I settled upon creating a soup topped with a basil-walnut pesto.  The pressure mounted because I didn’t have any wiggle room to screw this up – because not a head of Romanesco broccoli could be found at the market yesterday morning.  Did it like suddenly go out of season within a week?  Did the farmers sell their entire crop of this vegetable?  I was starting to feel  pretty stressed.

So I got the job done, leaving the kitchen in a complete state of disaster with blenders and food processors littering the counters, spilled soup crusting the stovetop, and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano covering the counter like a soft blanket of snow.  However, the soup tasted really delicious.  Whew.  Okay, got over the recipe hurdle and documented it on paper as fast as I could write.

The next panic to set in was the styling and photography.  What was a cloudy day suddenly became a brilliantly sunny late afternoon sky which completely thwarted where I was going to shoot.  After I got that rectified, it was on to finish collecting items for styling.  I had a nice blue bowl for the soup.  A cloth napkin, bread, spoon, and a canning jar stuffed with fresh basil rounded out the rest of the table (er, floor).  I wanted to spoon some pesto in a small dish but couldn’t find one that worked.  Ditto for the grated cheese.

Um, maybe it should have occurred to me that the soup was going to be the color of split-pea soup?  Probably the least most flattering color to photography besides brown foods??!  And great – the color of the soup actually was a close match for the color of the INSIDE of my bowl.  Crap, crap, crap.  Things were not going too well at this point.

This was definitely harder than a photo session on the beach will a family of 15 and four of them under the age of five.

Well, I worked with what I had, and clicked away.   Learn, learn, learn.  Document the missteps and move forward.  And never forgetting for a moment that I’m so glad to be a part of this very amazing group of photographers.

The diptych reveal (and recipe will follow):

 

 

Our group’s blogs are linked to form a blog circle – so please continue on and see what Kathryn Clark has for this challenge!  I can’t wait to see her take on this!

And lastly, are you on Pinterest?  Our group has a board there called Haute Dishes and you are welcome to “like” us or follow the board.  Great dishes, great recipes, and great styling from all around blog-land.  Our challenges are featured there, too.  We’d love to have you!

Romanesco Pesto Soup

Ingredients for soup:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion (Florida or Vidalia)
  • 1 medium to large Yukon Gold potato
  • 1 medium head Romanesco broccoli (can substitute broccoli or cauliflower), stem sliced off and broken into florets
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional)*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • touch of finely grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • kosher salt and coarse ground pepper
  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to sprinkle over soup

Ingredients for the Basil-Walnut Pesto:

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces plus two tablespoons for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or Parmesan cheese of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (scant squeeze from a half of a lemon)
  • salt (kosher or sea) and coarse ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  To make the Roasted Garlic, cut off the top of the garlic to expose the bulbs.  Place on a small sheet of foil, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Bring the sides of the foil up around the garlic to form a little package.  Set on a small baking sheet and place in the oven for 50 minutes.  Leave the oven on when garlic is done at 400 degrees F.  When cool enough to handle, squeeze the pulp from the garlic cloves and set aside.  (Roasted Garlic can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.)
  2. While the garlic is cooking, prep vegetables.  Chop the potato and onion into medium dice and chop the romanesco florets into smaller pieces.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and a small pinch of salt and let cook until soft, about 4 minutes.  Add the chopped potato, romanesco broccoli, and the roasted garlic pulp.  Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, and parmesan cheese rind (if using) and bring up to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer for about 20 minutes, partially covered.
  4. Make the Basil-Walnut Pesto:  In a food processor, pulse the the 1/2 cup of walnuts and the garlic a few times; then add the basil and cheese and pulse.  With the motor on, add the extra-virgin olive oil in a slow stream until incorporated.  Add the salt and lemon juice and pulse one or two more times.  (If not using right away – cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
  5. Remove cheese rind and bay leaf from the soup.  Blend in batches in a blender and return to the pot.  Add lemon juice, heavy cream, and season with salt, pepper, and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg.  Stir well and ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a dollop of Basil-Walnut Pesto and toasted walnuts.

Serves 6

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Tiffany | Develop - February 20, 2012 - 9:37 am

Stacey, that is gorgeous! I love that clean bright green with the white and neutral tones. So spring-y and fresh. That first shot makes the veggie look like a succulent plant. Great work!

Kay Pickens - February 20, 2012 - 9:39 am

That looks really delicious! I have to say I’ve never had Romanesco broccoli ! I’m going to go out and look for some and try it!

Tammy Bilodeau - February 20, 2012 - 11:33 am

This is lovely. I love the white and the bright green, the shallot and garlic clove add a nice touch. I love your comp on the 2nd shot and the biscuit in the background….nice work. :)

Jennifer - February 20, 2012 - 11:39 am

Stacey-You used my FAVORITE veggie!!! I adore the geometric shapes that make romaneso broccoli so unique. Love the color and flavor too! So much fun to eat :)
Love the photographs too-so simple, clean and welcoming. Just enough props to give context without overwhelming. Lovely!

Kat - February 20, 2012 - 12:43 pm

This turned out beautiful despite all the trials. Love your styling and your bright crisp set up and processing. The detail on your veggies is lovely! Great job.

Allison Jacobs - February 20, 2012 - 4:08 pm

Stacey, these are AMAZING! Love that first one & I think it looks like art! Gorgeous veggie. I haven’t seen it {or cooked with it} before so I will keep an eye out for it now that I have seen these!

Carey Pace - February 21, 2012 - 8:16 am

I can honestly say I’d never heard of this before! Which really surprises me because I am a bit of a foodie! These images are stunning. The light is so pure. I agree with you that the only thing that could even be considered ‘off’ is that the soup color is the same as the bowl color… and I keep staring and trying to decide whether I kind of LIKE that. It’s kind of enigma-ish… where does the soup begin, where does the soup end. It draws me in and makes me want to stay. : ) Your compositions and stylings are wonderful.

Laurie - February 21, 2012 - 10:44 pm

Oh wowza!!! Stacey, that is the most beautiful alien vegetable I have EVER EVER EVER seen!! I have never seen romanesco here in California. I love this veggie.. I LOVE your photo’s.. beautiful! And that recipe sounds to die for!!!!! Stacey you did an amazing job.. and I even love that basket your vegetable is in. So perfect!! Congratulations on an awesome job girlfriend!!! xoxo

Kirsten - February 21, 2012 - 11:20 pm

Oh man…these turned out so beautiful! LOVE the green colors and the soup looks delish!

Kim - Liv Life - February 27, 2012 - 7:22 pm

Oh, Stacey!! I’m very late at getting around to our circle, but I’ve been looking forward to reading your story after your facebook tease about your day. And what a day you had! You said it all when mentioning that a group of 15 with little kids would have been easier… yep! I’ve SO been there! But you did it. Gorgeous shots, a wonderful recipe and a fantastic entertaining post.
I’ve only had romanesco once, last fall when we were in Italy and I truly enjoyed it. I haven’t seen it at my local markets, but admittedly I haven’t been looking for it. I’m eager to give it a try myself now!
Nicely done!

Amitabh Singh - March 31, 2012 - 6:46 am

Nice text, recepie and the final Photograph. I came to your blog just by chance.. I am from India and a Food photographer.. always exploring how people across the Globe are shooting their own cooked food in STYLE. Yours is a pure CREATIVE STYLE. I like it.
Nice work.

Amitabh

Morning at the Market | Longboat Key Photographer

I was up pretty early Saturday morning since I had to drop my son off at his school at 6:30 am for departure with his Latin Club to the regional forum in Tampa, so after a stop at Starbucks, I decided to head to the farmer’s market in downtown Sarasota.  I had such a nice time just wandering around and taking pictures but all the while eyeing the vast array of gorgeous looking produce and wondering what I was going to do for this month’s food photography and styling challenge which calls for a diptych of a raw and a cooked vegetable presentation.  There are a few fairly large vendors that carry just about everything from tomatoes to squash, but then I came upon a smaller, organic vendor that appeared to have some interesting produce.  Immediately catching my eye (and triggering my impulse shopping button) was a display of heirloom radishes which practically just call out to have their picture taken!  In a matter of moments, I bought both the French Breakfast and the Watermelon varieties but have no idea what I’m going to do with them, lol.  I also picked up a bunch of Florida sweet onions – just because they’re different and also make for a nice presentation in their raw state.  And because I like them.

Are the French Breakfast radishes gorgeous or what?

I’m thinking about trying to work on a presentation with the Florida sweet onions today so that I can enjoy them in an avocado sandwich……

There used to be a vendor that had an amazing amount of  both fresh and dried herbs and spices but after two circles around the market, I couldn’t find them.  But – I did finally stumble upon a smaller vendor and picked up a small package of whole nutmeg as well as aged balsamic salt.

Next week I’m picking up shrimp from this vendor…

And I ended my market adventure with a slice of  freshly cut watermelon.

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Tammy Bilodeau - February 6, 2012 - 1:34 pm

Oh these are gorgeous. I wish I lived in an area that had such super farmers markets. Oh & I love that Newfie!! hee hee hee

Kim - Liv Life - February 6, 2012 - 1:52 pm

I’ve been waiting for these pics!!! Gorgeous! What a market you have… We have a few wonderful markets, but I think yours is even bigger, and you definitely are ahead of us in the growing season. We aren’t far behind though. I’m inspired! I’ll take my camera next week as I haven’t really done that since last season. Thanks!

Karen Verbeke - February 6, 2012 - 3:26 pm

Stacey, these are such wonderful photos!! Enjoyed looking at them very much, so beautiful :) I have never been, now I want to go!!

Amanda Eller - February 6, 2012 - 4:30 pm

SWOOOON! We need this in my area! Gorgeous shots and what a lovely event! That dog shot is just too cute with his little bib! ha ha!

Amy - February 10, 2012 - 10:25 am

Ahh! Shorts and t-shirts? So jealous of that weather and your trip to the market!

Laurie - February 11, 2012 - 9:35 pm

Stacey!!!!! Oh my gosh.. I’m so excited to see your next challenge post. You have an amazing assortment of choices there in Florida for vegetables!! Your photo’s are so crisp and colorful!

Kay Pickens - February 16, 2012 - 9:53 am

Saw this on my phone when I was out of town, and wanted to come back and comment. These are great. Seriously jealous that you have a farmers market open now. Ours won’t open for months yet. I want those strawberries!!!

[…] on the blogs of esteemed pros in the food photography and styling fields, and visited our local farmer’s market three times to hunt and procure produce and to ultimately initiate some type of plan for this […]