Food Photography & Styling | August Assignment | Summer Dessert | Longboat Key & Bradenton FL Photographer

Hello!  It’s food photography and styling challenge time with The Inspired Plate!

I wait too long to start these monthly challenges, especially this month.  I thought my only issue this month would be the surprising number of family photography shoots I had scheduled (it’s August – in Florida), but it seems like the to-do list grew by leaps and bounds ever since the beginning of the month.   And just as if there wasn’t quite enough going on, it became necessary to factor in a tropical storm/hurricane by the name of Isaac.  Until the track verifies and sets its sight on a fairly definite destination, one has to stop what one is doing to stock up, get organized, do laundry, and otherwise prepare to hunker down or to evacuate.   Isaac keeps tracking west, so we’re “just” going to get tropical storm conditions meaning lots of wind and rain, and flooding.  We’ll probably lose power since it seems like this island can lose power on the best of days.  Go figure.  And I really really dislike losing power.

But on to our challenge! The assignment this month with The Inspired Plate is to style and shoot a summer dessert. I’m honestly not a big dessert person, although I’m totally impressed by the work of many pastry chefs.  So…I had two plans – one for popsicles, and one for a dessert carpaccio.  Two plans because I wasn’t sure if either would work!

By the way, have you seen this book?  It’s called the People’s Pops by Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell, & Joel Horowitz.  Amazing popsicle recipes and a  well-deserved success story hailing from Brooklyn.

So I made some popsicles!  And won’t do it again!    LOL:)  My kitchen floor was so crazy sticky after all of the watermelon and cantaloupe purees in spite of several wet Swifferings.  One pop had booze in it – the apertif Campari – and I put toooooo  much in.  Oh well.  That’s too bad….

So I got started, with lots of produce…


The first is for Cantaloupe with Campari and Cantaloupe with Cream.  Campari is booze.  Do not give to children!  You may not even want to give to yourself.  😉

























And the next is a basil-infused watermelon pop – so refreshing!


























Then because I wasn’t really sure how the pops were going to turn out, I also made a dish from the July issue of Bon Appetit with just a couple of tweaks.  You know, just in case.

























I hope you enjoyed this month’s challenge with The Inspired Plate!  Next up is Valeria Howell of MindZen Photography with her delicious take on this assignment!  Please travel our blog circle as we are linked to one another for additional amazing and mouth-watering summer desserts and and beautiful photography!






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Tammy Bilodeau - August 27, 2012 - 10:15 am

How fun! These posicles look scrumptious. I think you did a great job telling a story here, by adding the pre-pop shots. I also think you did a great job in picking your props……. Everything seems to be so well co-ordinated. Each colour combo accentuates and enhances the star of the show…the popsicles. Great work :)

Sabrina - August 27, 2012 - 11:17 am

These look AMAZING Stacey! I love what you’ve done with the complementary colour schemes and the composition is perfect (as always). I’ll definitely have to try making some of these when summer rolls around in a few months, they look very refreshing :)

Laurie - August 27, 2012 - 2:41 pm

You are too funny. Loved the comment that you may not even want to give it to yourself! That Cantaloupe & Campari recipe with heavy cream sounds soo delish!

Your photo’s and styling are beautiful Stacey. Your amazing that you can get this done with your family portraiture business too. So talented my friend!

Kim Hill - August 27, 2012 - 7:01 pm

YUMMY!!! Gorgeous images, too. :) We make our own popsicles also, but nothing this divine. LOL I think we’ll give melon/lime one a try.

Jen Olson | Localette - August 27, 2012 - 8:32 pm

Stacey, these sound sooo delicious!! Love the colors and flavors you have here!! I’m super impressed that you can accomplish such stellar work with a bunch of family shoots, a kiddo starting school, and a hurricane!! xoxo

Caroline - August 27, 2012 - 10:38 pm

Wow do these look amazing! I love the Cantaloupe with Campari and Cantaloupe with Cream photo…the orange with the blue is just perfect!

Kim - Liv Life - August 27, 2012 - 11:10 pm

Beautiful Stacey, just beautiful! I have to admit that I’m not much of a boozy pop girl, and I’ve never had campari, so I think my choice would have been that watermelon pop. I think you captured summer in the pop with the flavors you chose, the basil is something I’ve never thought of, but it’s just darn perfect.
I love how you photographed it with the fabric you chose, it complements the basil and melon colors. Well done!
I sure hope you floors aren’t sticky any more!

Kay Pickens - August 28, 2012 - 11:01 am

Love these! I want to try your booze popsicle… Anyway, I love your composition and prop set ups for these. So nice!!

Valeria - August 28, 2012 - 12:03 pm

Looks so refreshing, especially the watermelon one. One of my favorite fruit. Love your composition.

Tiffany | Peanut Blossom - September 4, 2012 - 1:17 pm

Oh my goodness, Stacey!! I LOVE those cantaloupe ones. They look absolutely delicious and the color is phenomenal. Love the styling of all the shots, you did an incredible job. Popsicles can be so tricky!

Jane - September 5, 2012 - 1:21 pm

Hi Stacey,
My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
I was looking for blog posts about Longboat Key to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you :)

Russell at Chasing Delicious - September 8, 2012 - 8:34 pm

Look at all these popsicles! Yum!

Bunkycooks - September 9, 2012 - 5:07 pm

I had to laugh about the Campari comment. It is definitely an acquired taste. Love the popsicles! I would still consider making them in spite of the mess.

admin - September 9, 2012 - 5:15 pm

That is is Gwen! I went through a Campari phase like an eternity ago and I think that bottle sitting in my cabinet was from that era haha. Bitter stuff!

C Family Siblings | Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island, Bradenton FL Photographer

When I received an email from mom Jessica asking if I would be available to do a photo session with her two children, I gave her one heck of a big YES!  Although I absolutely enjoy working with the large family groups, it’s a nice change of pace to be able to slow down and execute a little bit more creativity and one-on-one session time when working with just one or two children or adults.   This family from the Atlanta area was spending several weeks here this summer on the south end of Longboat Key so we decided to venture to the nature preserve that is just over the New Pass Bridge to start our session, and then to head over to the Longboat Key Club Resort for some beach shots.

These two children are precious and I think the only word they said to me the entire time was “cheese.”  I desperately tried to give them a “new” word, but it never caught on lol!  Jessica – thank you for choosing me to capture your sweet kiddos and I hope we can get together for another session in the future.

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Kay Pickens - August 15, 2012 - 1:05 pm

These are fabulous photos, and the children are just darling! Nice job.

Kim - Liv Life - August 15, 2012 - 6:09 pm

I love shooting kids! Now that mine are older and I don’t do many school functions any more I miss them. These guys are adorable! What fun!

Jane - August 22, 2012 - 11:20 pm

Hi Stacey!
My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
I was looking for blog posts about Anna Maria Island to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you :)

P Family Beach Session | Longboat Key & Anna Maria Island FL Photographer

What a fun family to work with!  I think we laughed our way through this session especially because everyone was trying their best to get the little girl’s attention to the point of sheer goofiness.   These were taken on the north end of Anna Maria Island – definitely a favorite spot.

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Shannon - August 9, 2012 - 2:33 pm

Love these! Great shots of a lovely family. :)

Food Photography & Styling | July Assignment BBQ/Grilling | Longboat Key & Bradenton Food Photographer

It’s our July food photography and styling challenge – already!  I can’t believe half the year has already gone by.  Back in January, I was fortunate to stumble upon a group of ladies that were forming a group with the purpose of improving their food photography and styling skills and it’s been a wonderful journey so far.  Everybody brings something different to the group which we all learn and benefit from.

This month’s challenge is to style and photograph a BBQ dish (or grilled).  Did I mention that I don’t even own an outdoor grill?  Or that I’m not a fan of BBQ in general?  Now I know how the group participants last month who didn’t like fish felt!  To not own a grill seems almost unAmerican I guess.  Sure, we had one, but the Florida salt air finally did it in a few years ago.  In addition, living in an elevated home means one spends their time running up and down stairs and being separated from family or friends if grilling is underway.  So……long story short, we just never used it much and subsequently didn’t feel any strong need to purchase a new one.   I broil and roast.  I roast and broil.  No smoke.  Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  I just don’t like smoky tasting food.  I don’t even want smoked turkey deli meat in a sandwich.

To that end, I did however put a lot of energy into this month’s challenge!  Some of the California participants in our group were able to meet up and complete this month’s assignment together which sounded and looked like a lot of fun.  As for me, I decided to work on my “indoor” grilling skills.  I really couldn’t decide what to make even as the days dwindled down to our deadline (which is right now).  I wasn’t loving the idea of meat… I decided upon shrimp, radicchio, and hearts of palm skewers, as well as a dessert component.  I also made a fresh salsa to go along with the skewers (yum).  Styling it all, however, was another big component of this challenge.  I knew I wanted to shoot outside in late day light to give it that “outside BBQ” feel and look.  I didn’t, though, want a classic July 4th hamburgers and hot dogs appearance either, because that wasn’t representative of  the story behind my dishes.

I was looking for upscale casual.   Sort of like casual Fridays in the office when you get to wear something less conservative but not jeans or shorts?  Do companies still do that?

Starting off with the salsa……made with mango, pineapple, kiwi fruit, red onion, orange bell pepper, jalapeño, and cilantro.  I used to hate dislike cilantro immensely but have somehow come to enjoy it in recent years.  This salsa is soooo good with a nice spicy kick which you really kind of need when making a fruit-based salsa.

All recipes follow at the end of this post.

Then on to the appetizer – or small plate dish – skewers of jumbo shrimp, hearts of palm, and radicchio and lime wedges.  I love hearts of palm.  Did you know that hearts of palm come from the sabel palmetto or cabbage palm?  That is Florida’s state tree.

A nice addition to round out this dinner would be a grilled pork tenderloin with rice pilaf.

On to dessert!  This is Carla Hall’s recipe from The Chew – and it’s aptly named Grilled Pineapple Upside Down Sandwich.  Oh yeah, oh yum.  You can find the recipe HERE.  The raspberry sauce was my little addition. I also included a pullback of how I took the photo – it was brilliantly sunny so a diffuser panel was a necessity….however, the pop-up storm brewing just off camera left  definitely was NOT a necessity to the shoot.

I shot the dessert first and because of the storm, wasn’t sure if I would be able to shoot the appetizer course or not!  Luckily the sun came back out just in time for the sunset, and enough light to get my shots.  It was a beautiful set within a stormy sky.

Please continue on through our blog circle to see what everyone came up with for their BBQ/Grilling dishes this month.  Next up is  Allison Jacobs of Allison Jacobs Photography and I can’t wait to see what she posted!







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Kay Pickens - July 23, 2012 - 10:35 am

Love the pull back shot. I must MUST try that pineapple dish. Sounds so yummy. Great shots.

Kat - July 23, 2012 - 11:23 am

You just rock Stacey! ‘I don’t like to grill so I’ll make 3 DISHES’ Love it. Very awesome that you went the dessert route as well. It looks incredible!

[…] See the original post: Food Photography & Styling | July Assignment BBQ/Grilling … […]

Carey Pace - July 23, 2012 - 1:42 pm

Gah, I still can’t get over how you live on the stinking BEACH!!!

these are phenomenal, as always!! I adore fruit salsas!! And man, I eat things so that I CAN eat cilantro! I adore it! Love that you included a pull back – so helpful for me. And that sunset – ENVY pure and simple.

Tiffany | Peanut Blossom - July 23, 2012 - 2:36 pm

Stacey! These are awesome! I love the fruity salsa and the Florida-style interpretation of BBQ. The dessert is so what took it all over the top for me. Delicious and gorgeous and I loved your upscale casual approach. That’s definitely what you conveyed!

admin - July 23, 2012 - 4:44 pm

That was funny Kat! 😉

Valeria - July 23, 2012 - 5:16 pm

This is so amazing. perfect light and composition. I wish I could see the ocean from my porch, especially on the other side of country, where the beaches are warmer.

Sabrina Wong - July 23, 2012 - 9:48 pm

These are stunning images Stacey, I really love that first shot with all your salsa ingredients, all different colours, some in cute little saucepans. My second favourite is the grilled pineapple upside down sandwich, love the lightness of the image and the red that threads everything in the photo together. Thanks for posting the pullback shot, it’s always interesting to see those and you have such a beautiful view from the balcony!

Laurie - July 23, 2012 - 11:30 pm

Stacey.. you are such a fabulous cook!! OMG.. this all looks so gorgeous and wonderful. I love your styling.. especially of the Grilled Pineapple Upside Down Sandwich. The colors are spectacular! I rarely shoot outside, but even for the rare chance I may have again.. I would like to get one of those diffusers. And I have never had heart of palm.. I’ll have to take your word on it being so tasty.. but you’ll have to give us a little description of what type of flavor it is. And.. February.. would love to come out there and spend time with you. And cook together!! What fun it would be to have our first TIP get together there. Let your husband know we’re coming!!!! :) xoxo

Amalia Ferreira - July 26, 2012 - 11:03 pm

Everything looks amazing!!

admin - July 27, 2012 - 10:33 am

Thank you Amalia! :)

Tammy Bilodeau - July 30, 2012 - 1:27 am

As usual Stacey, simply stunning. Your fruit salsa sounds divine, and I love you made a dessert….it also looks scrumptious. Thanks for the pull back, I’m gonna need to get one of those gigantor reflectors….lol Seriously though, you totally rocked it!

Kristen - August 7, 2012 - 9:06 am

What gorgeous pictures – that dessert, especially!

Kim - Liv Life - August 21, 2012 - 7:02 pm

Oh, Stacey!! I don’t even know where to begin!!! I do own a grill and I use it nearly 5 days a week, however I don’t produce any grilled food like you did without a grill. You know how I adore mango salsa, what a combo you have.
Thanks also for showing the pulled back shot… As I really don’t have any photography background, it helps to see what other people are doing.
And the sunset?? Sigh…..