Last month I had the chance to do some test shooting at Heartland Restaurant in St. Paul – a fun time on many levels.
I think of Chef Lenny Russo as the godfather of Minnesota farm to table cuisine. The success and longevity he’s had as a chef and as a restaurant owner is a testament to his skill, and to his ability to innovate. As is becoming more commonplace, Heartland sources locally, then finds unexpected applications for what many may consider unusual ingredients. Heartland just takes the concept to such a high level. For example, their exploration of the mushroom is amazing.
Chef Alan Bergo told me that last year Heartland used over 250 pounds of legally foraged mushrooms from around the Midwest, in a multitude of varieties. To hear him talk about mushrooms is to understand the passion and knowledge that everyone I dealt with on Heartland’s staff shares and brings to the plate.
I also had fun with Mike Campbell, Heartland’s head butcher, as he broke down half a pig, while we talked about the intricacies of curing meats and working at scale.
Thanks to Lenny and his crew for sharing their time and knowledge. And for putting out such comforting yet immaculate dishes.
If you happen to be a member of the Seward Co-op you may recognize this photo from the cover of the latest issue of Sprout!, the co-op’s member newsletter.
What you may not know is that those happy people my wife and son! I’ve heard from other people I’ve photographed for the Sprout cover that they feel like minor neighborhood celebrities for a couple weeks after it’s delivered, and it’s fun to watch that happen with my family.
We managed to eke out quite a few photos before the kiddo lost interest. It helped that a ‘snack’ of a plateful of cookies and a seitan ruben were part of the deal – and that he genuinely loves going to the co-op.
A few more outtakes from the day:
A couple weeks back I had a chance to photograph my friend Helena Raghubir of the Center for Happiness yoga studio. I’ve photographed Helena a few times now over the past several years, and it’s always fun.
Yoga portraits tend towards the staged and perfectly posed, but Helena (and I) wanted to create images that evoked the mental experience of being on the mat. For me, what comes through in these images is Helena’s focus, strength and fluidity, and a grounded-ness that suggests the value of the mental side of a yoga practice over its physical manifestations.
Or at least that’s what I hope gets evoked. What do you see?
Over my last few posts I’ve been highlighting some recent changes in my portfolio, but the biggest change is the addition of a gallery devoted entirely to my work with Kids.
As is usually the case with portfolios, a new gallery doesn’t necessarily mean that I just recently started photographing kids; prior to this portfolio update I had various kid-centric images scattered throughout my site. But as of this Fall it seemed like the critical mass was there to call it a legitimate specialty area.
Over the years I’ve photographed kids for Fraser, Midwest Food Connection, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, the Seward Co-op and several others. But the tipping point was a book project I did recently with Redleaf Press: a picture book for elementary school-age kids explaining how people come to have different skin colors. It’s called “All the Colors We Are,” and it was a ton of fun to work on. Enough fun to save for its own blog entry, coming soon.
For now, here are a few shots from the new gallery to give you a taste. Photographing kids forces me to move fast, stay flexible, and bring an energy level on par with that of a five year old to a project. It’s a great challenge, and such fun to get in to a goofy space with kids.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years it’s the power of surrounding ones self with a team of specialists all working towards a shared goal. As I strive to improve what I do, and how I communicate that work to the world, I’ve been fortunate to connect with a range of amazing people in the creative world here in Minneapolis. The latest is Debra Valentini.
Debra has an extensive network of contacts in Minnesota that extends into the advertising, design, corporate and editorial worlds. She’ll be showing my portfolio, along with the other photographers she represents, around town, and I’m super excited to have her help in getting my name out. I’m also excited to be in such good company – take a look at her site and you’ll see that some of Minneapolis’s finest photo talent uses her services. Being associated with such a talented group can only help.
If you just happen to be someone who hires shooters and would like Debra to swing by with treats and a big pile of iPads, drop her a line: Debra [at] ValentiniPhotoMarketing.com. We all love the chance to share work.