Heather Elder Represents Rethinks the Agency Portfolio.

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Last year, we decided that it was a good time to create an AGENCY PORTFOLIO.  We had a fantastic group of photographers and many opportunities to show it off.  We didn’t want it to be a typical group book that had a section for each photographer.  While we like those and they are always very strong, we wanted ours to be a little different so that it would stand out more at events such as Le Book’s Connections.

What we came up with was a portfolio divided by SPECIALTY instead of by PHOTOGRAPHER.  We liked this idea because it allowed us to showcase the type of work our group can offer while allowing the viewer to file our group away by different specialities.  Of course it is always our main goal for a creative to learn who our photographers are and what they shoot individually.  This will never change.  But, by offering an alternate way for them to view the work in our group, we are opening up another opportunity for them to remember the work.

More often than not the Agency Portfolio is shown in conjunction with the individual portfolios so if a viewer is interested in seeing more, they can choose to do so right then and there.  This is particularly helpful in a setting like Le Book Connections because there are so many books to view and it can get overwhelming for some. We have found that our agency book provides a breath of fresh air in a crowded market.

Take a look for yourself and see.  It is no mistake that we chose the song, Breathe by Sia as the background music.  Enjoy!

Click here to see the video of our Agency Portfolio

Click here to see the video of our Agency Portfolio

When Personal Work Gets Published. Wayfarer Magazine Shares Leigh Beisch’s trip to Italy.


I always enjoy seeing the personal work that a photographer in our group shares with the world.  While I of course love seeing anything they shoot, I particularly enjoy seeing what Leigh Beisch shares.  This is because she is a food photographer  so when she shares with us something other than food, it is a new insight into her vision.  Seeing the imagery from a recent trip to Italy, it was no surprise to learn that Wayfare Magazine had encouraged her to shoot for them while there. Here is what Leigh had to say about the trip and her imagery.

Here is what Leigh had to say about the trip and her imagery.

“I am excited to see some of my photos from my trip to Rome in the first printed issue of Wayfare Magazine. When I mentioned to a friend and colleague Peggy Wong that I was taking a trip to Rome, she told me that she wanted to see my photos when I returned and that she may want to include them in the first printed edition of Wayfare Magazine (a cool new travel mag that turns that category a bit on it’s head.)

What was nice about this request was that it wasn’t really an assignment. She wanted to see the photos that I would take for myself, she was especially interested in seeing what I shot for my personal series of work entitled “Bodies of Land” which is comprised of out of focus landscapes, or in this case cityscapes.

I also played a lot with Instagram for this trip since I liked the format, the accessibility to capture things at any time and the tones that were rendered with some of the filters. I am usually not a big “effects” photographer, nor do I like a lot of retouching. I liken the filters to using different types of film or printer paper.  “

Here is the text that accompanies the images in the magazine:

Photographer Leigh Beisch, along with her husband, father, and ten-year-old daughter, forgo their annual trip to Cape Cod for something a little more mysterious. Here we get a light-filled glimpse into the beauty of a region teeming with old world intrigue.

“We decided to rent a small apartment in Trastevere, located on the outskirts of Rome and just south of Vatican City. We booked the apartment for two weeks so we could spend one week as tourists and the next week as locals. While Rome is where scale and extraordinary monuments are on display at every turn, the color and texture of this neighborhood are what captured our hearts. Here we felt like we could experience art, not just see it. The building of our tiny rented apartment had the most amazing rustic front door that was designed to keep out invaders during the medieval period. There was also a stone staircase that was so worn with age that I could imagine a young slave girl carrying water up them thousands of years ago. Staying here instead of a hotel allowed us to let the language of the place—the people, the light, the smells—to seep in and shape our experience. The family and I enjoyed being part of the neighborhood’s everyday routines, sampling from the well-visited osterias and trattorias; shopping at the local designer clothing boutiques; and enjoying the famous Sunday flea market, Porta Portese. One place we frequented was local trattoria La Scala, where my daughter would order her favorite dish of spaghetti con burro e parmigiano, a simple dish of pasta with butter and parmigiano. One of my favorite dishes here was the tagliolini cacio e pepe con fioridi zucca e pachino, a pasta with a beautiful squash blossom layered on top, then sprinkled with parmesan and ground pepper.”

SEE. I spent some time shooting for my personal work  entitled “Bodies of Land,” which is a series of abstract  landscapes that are out of focus with the subject matter being light and color. This allows me to create a more timeless landscape that captures the imagination.

EAT. My father and I woke up early a few mornings to photograph. Before we headed out, we stopped at the local Bar for morning cappuccinos and jam filled pastries. I loved the colorful trays here

Our first morning in Rome, we headed to the Piazza di Santa Maria, where we found a beautiful fountain guarding the entrance to the Basilica of Our Lady, or Basilica di Santa Maria, one of the most ancient churches in Rome. So ancient, in fact, that it’s one of the few churches where you can see Christ depicted as a living prophet, rather than on the cross. It was here that I noticed the light streaming in through the clerestory, illuminating select statues and giving the sense of divine light. This light shaped my experience in Rome, becoming my subject matter and focal point of the trip. The photo of the portal looking out onto the wall with a row of dotted trees was at the entrance to Hadrian’s Villa, a Roman Emperor of the 2nd century AD. The wall pictured here was built to be just one mile long, which was the length of the palace and, according to our guide, the distance that the Emperor’s physician had advised him to walk every day. The morning light of this photo gives us a glimpse into what one of the Emperor’s walks might have been like. From the cobblestone streets and terracotta and maize buildings cast in deep wine hues to street windows dotted with laundry lines, Rome was richer than I had ever imagined. I loved the color of the place, and the way the light would fill ancient crevices to reveal some things and hide others. It felt as though this light held the secrets of Rome.”

To see more of Leigh’s work, please link here.


Leigh Beisch Resolves to Keep it Simple this Year.

@Leigh Beisch

@Leigh Beisch

Leigh Beisch started off the New Year writing a blog post for her own blog about a particular New Year’s resolution she made.  She was inspired by Nicholas Taleb’s book Antifragile  - Things that Gain from Disorder.  I think she is on the right track for sure.  Here is what she is thinking.

“Steve Jobs said “…You have to work hard to get your thinking clean and make it simple.””

This quote is from a book that I am reading entitled -Antifragile-Things That Gain from Disorder. The author, Nicholas Taleb uses this quote from Jobs as a way of supporting his theory that we need to get back to a more “simple and natural” system, and away from the manufactured, over predicted one that we have. He argues that the more we try to predict things, trying to control their outcome by manufacturing reality, the more fragile we become. And when the unpredictable occurs (and it always does) those systems that are fragile will not survive. He is a proponent of the “Antifragile” as he puts it- a system that doesn’t try to predict, but is prepared to not just survive any shock that comes along (anything from a financial crisis to an earthquake), but actually gains strength from it. He states that Nature is Antifragile- it has weathered so many assaults and shocks and still persists. He proposes to let the simple and natural take their course. I have always been an advocate of the simple and natural. Systematically I use it as part of my personal philosophy and in my business.

So I guess my New Year’s resolution is to stay strong to that conviction. Keep things organic, flowing, simple and natural.”

To read more about what is on Leigh Beisch’s mind, be sure to link to her blog here.

© Leigh Beisch

© Leigh Beisch

Behind the Scenes Video from Leigh Beisch Studio

Everyone loves a behind the scenes video so we thought sharing this one about an October shoot would be fun to share on Halloween.  Leigh Beisch recently posted this on her blog and here is what she had to say about it.  Enjoy!

“Recently we did a Halloween shoot for Delicious Living Magazine, which is a national healthy lifestyle magazine that you can pick up at places like Whole Foods. One of my clients came with her DSLR and shot this video of our shoot behind the scenes. At first I was nervous since I usually hate every photo of me ever taken- I guess that is the bane of being a photographer- being hyper critical of photos that represent you! I love what Erin did- so wanted to share. I was inspired by her gumption- she works full time and has two babies and found the time to learn how to shoot video! She also shot the video in a somewhat reluctant atmosphere- but she persisted and made something fun for her magazine.  She plans to post it on the Delicious Living Magazine Website soon.”

Link here to see video

Out and About with Leigh Beisch. A long term client launches a new body of work.

I am a big fan of long term client relationships and am proud to say that every one of our photographers has them.  It says so much about a photographer and a studio if they have clients that choose to partner with them on a long term basis rather than just for one project.  The benefits are endless for clients and photographers that choose to be partners (ooh, sounds like the makings of great post I will have to revisit!)

Leigh Beisch recently went to Chicago for a conference.  While she was there, she took the time to reach out to one of her partners.  What a treat it was for her to see the inner workings of a client that she has been connected to for many years.  Here is what she shared with us when she returned.

“Last week I found myself in one of my favorite cities: Chicago. It was purely coincidental but I happened to be there visiting one of my longtime clients, McDonald’s and their agencies at the very time their new menu board that I photographed launched.  It was a real treat to see the familiar faces, and meet the folks that I had heard about again and again. I even got to check out McDonald’s headquarters, which you can imagine is impressive since we are talking about a GLOBAL company. There are meeting rooms with country names on them and such. I felt a bit like I was in a 007 movie!

It has been thrilling to work on such a global brand and I have been fortunate to work with creatives who have since the day they walked into my studio eight years ago, wanted to try to innovate in any way they could. So much of retail work is about communicating a lot of information, so I have found it extremely interesting to see how the creative/art directors bring a fresh approach to each project while satisfying the needs and demands of the retail environment. I have great admiration for them. Not only does it need to look amazing, but it needs to sell- like A LOT!

I appreciate having a long term relationship with a client like this because it sends the message that they trust my vision. When you have that trust, the work is always better.

To see more of Leigh’s work please link here. She has partnered with so many wonderful client’s to create visions that are unique to them and their brand.

Birth of a Gummy Bear

When the trend started a few years back where photographers started learning to shoot video, many people wondered how a still life photographer could utilize video and still make it interesting.  Kevin Twomey has shown once again that it is entirely possible to do so by exploring yet another interesting subject, The Birth of a Gummy Bear.  When I asked him about it, here is what he had to say.

“I look at food as a still life challenge, asking myself how I would represent it in a way that stimulates the senses beyond the predictable “mmm, delicious”.   How might I evoke an emotional, rather than salivary, response?

The gummy bear imagery emerged after toying with ideas for a holiday card a couple of years ago, where I explored the after-effects of destroying
candy (mostly by smashing them to bits).  Experimentally melting some pieces, I saw how beautiful they looked as their sugars liquified.  That
led to the microwaving of gummy bears, which then led to my seeking a more precise way of melting: the hair dryer.  As I strategically melted the
gummy bears for my still shots, I noticed how beautifully the thick liquid flowed.  The dynamics were so compelling, I had to film them, not just
melting to their demise, but in a way that celebrates the creation of the beloved candy.”

To see more videos by Kevin Twomey, link to previous blog posts about other videos he created or to his website.

Slow Fire – another delicious post by Leigh Beisch.

When Leigh Beisch let us know that he latest cookbook hit the bookstores, I asked her to share some about her experience on the project.  Here is what she had to say:

“There is nothing more fun than BBQ, except maybe photographing it!  At the beginning of summer, my latest cookbook venture: Slow Fire hit the bookstores.  And not to my surprise (since it is written by a Ray Lampe-Dr BBQ himself) I have been getting emails and texts from friends and colleagues excited to buy the book and start mastering the art of Slow Fire!

They also think it is cool that they know the person who photographed it too!

There are many reasons I love to shoot cookbooks. One of the top reasons is that I get to learn about a subject as I photograph it. I have learned the intricacies of Southern baking (Southern Pies), the incredible flavor combinations in Vietnamese cooking (Into the Vietnamese Kitchen), about the traditions of eating the whole animal and the uses of FAT (Odd Bits) and (FAT), the symbolism and culture behind each dish in Japanese cooking (Woshoku and Kansha).

And with this current book, I learned about the true art of BBQ’ing.  Grilling doesn’t get to play a hand in this discussion- BBQ is something altogether different. It is an art form. During the shooting of this book, my crew got to meet a few true BBQ aficionados, all friends of the author.

Tim and his wife came to lend us his BBQ’s for the shoot. With him came not only a vast array of smokers, but also an incredible knowledge of how to wrangle it. Smoke expert, I would say. This very kind gentleman had his hand in the BBQ moving burning coals around to create just the right smoke. He offered us different colored smoke even.  All with a specific purpose, and flavor in mind. Next we met two other BBQ buffs.  One of them worked at the book publisher by day but on the weekend, he and his friends were full scale BBQers. These guys had apps to remotely control the fans on their BBQ’s to maintain proper heat while they were out. The result, I have to say is unbelievably deeeelicious- they brought us Brisket which they had spent the whole night cooking. Nothing like the stuff you find in a diner, just melt in your mouth yummy.

Food is getting more and more fun!”

To see more of Leigh’s work, be sure to link to her website.

More Essence of Wine by Leigh Beisch

Since I first posted about the series of work Leigh Beisch has been creating for Alder Yarrow’s blog, Vinography, Leigh has created many more beautiful images illustrating The Essence of Wine.

With each entry, the author, Alder Yarrow,  pairs photography with poetic writing to illustrate the Essence of Wine.  Together, he and Leigh, do so in such a magical way.  Be sure to check out the site for the imagery of course, but the words and the wine selection are just as magical.

Some recent entries have included:  Watermelon, Buttered Popcorn, Tobacco, Oranges and Lime.  To see the full collection, please link here.

Have you experienced the Essence of Wine yet?

© Leigh Beisch - http://www.leighbeisch.com

I enjoy subscribing to the blogs of my photographers because I receive the posts at the same time as everyone else.  I do not work with them on their content so it is a pleasant surprise to see what they are inspired to post.  Recently, this one appeared in my inbox from Leigh Beisch.  The project she refers to in the post is so beautiful I decided to subscribe to the blog that features the project - Vinography.
Here is what Leigh Beisch had to say about the project on her own blog:
“Wine blogger Alder Yarrow has a way with words which is why so many people follow his blog.  It is also why Art Director/Stylist Sara Slavin and I decided to collaborate with him on this fantastic project called The Essence of Wine.  The first in the series in the introduction, but to date we have photographed images for three other posts:  The Essence of Wine: Earth and The Essence of Wine: Honey and The Essence of Wine:  Vanilla.
Here is his introduction to the project found on his blog www.Vinography.com :
“Introducing The Essence of Wine
Many facets of wine contribute to its allure and mystery. But foremost among wine’s most magical qualities must be the remarkable landscape of flavor and aroma to be found in the glass.
That mere grape juice, given time and the workings of the microscopic kingdom, can yield flavors beyond description has doubtless played a central role in making wine mankind’s most historically sacred fluid, beyond our own lifeblood.
With eyes closed, a glass of wine can transport us not only to climes far removed, but also through time. These journeys are provoked by flavor. Our deep sense memories are drawn from their hiding places, and we find ourselves tasting things that a simple liquid ought not to be able to evoke with such unnerving power.

The flavors of wine are magical and beautiful, and worth celebrating, almost as much as they are worth drinking.

It is my pleasure to introduce a new series of weekly content on Vinography called The Essence of Wine.
This writing and photography project has been years in the making. Or more correctly, I have fantasized about it for several years, and only recently encountered the collaborators that I felt could truly help me bring it to life:

Photographer Leigh BeischCapturing the soul of food is more difficult than you would think. Food photography these days is glaringly unoriginal and boring for the most part — often as hopelessly derivative as it is clinically sterile.  Photographer Leigh Beisch’s images of food possess a rare beauty, poetry, and warmth that capture the energy and allure of great food.

Leigh studied painting and photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Moving from New York to San Francisco with her husband, an animator, Leigh opened her own studio and quickly attracted major clients like Williams-Sonoma, making a name for herself by creating stunning photographs for product packaging and cookbooks.

“My work as a painter influences my photography,” says Leigh. “Color, shape, texture and the boundaries of the frame are subjects in and of themselves and I try to capture an emotional response to the subject and the setting, as much ad abstract paintings do.”Leigh’s visions has led to commissions that range from editorials for magazines to store displays. Her work has won numerous awards including several Communication Arts prizes in photography and design as well as awards from Graphis and American Photography among others. The cookbooks that she has photographed have received awards from IACP, James Beard and Gourmand.
Prop Stylist Sara Slavin:
Requiring equal parts sculptor, chef, painter, and engineer, good prop stylists, especially those that work with food, are worth their weight in saffron.Art director and prop stylist Sara Slavin collaborates with photographers, designers and publishers on commercial and editorial projects throughout the country, with a special emphasis on the culinary and related arts.She has co-authored numerous lifestyle books and has acted as art director and stylist for such books as Odd BitsHot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet and Pure DessertSalumiWilliams-Sonoma EntertainingCountry Cooking of France,Southern Pies and Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter.Her clients include Williams-Sonoma, Restoration Hardware, Design Within Reach, Diageo Estate Wines, Food & Wine Magazine, Chronicle Books, Artisan Publishing, Sunset Magazine and 10 Speed Press.Each week, Leigh, Sara and I will be bringing you a bit of visual poetry — an original photograph and some prose — that captures some of wines most essential elements. I hope you enjoy these as much as we are enjoying their creation.

Leigh Beisch explains the importance of maintaining a clear personal vision.

© Leigh Beisch - http://www.leighbeisch.com

“Recently I was chatting with an art director I frequently work with.  She is someone whose opinion I have respected for a long time and whose attention I looked to get early on my career by entering contests that she was judging.  We have spent many years collaborating on projects and discussing the art and the business of photography.  I have admired her for her continuously fresh approach despite many years of being in the industry.

Our conversation today became about how she recognizes the differences in photographers work, how some work stands out and is able to draw her in while other work while technically competent seems flat.  This ties into something that I have been thinking about for a while…

‘maintaining a sense of “voice” a clear personal vision while still growing and evolving to stay relevant to the times and trends.’

I have grappled with how quickly some photographers completely change their style and looks to whatever is the “new look”- I wondered if this doesn’t just homogenize everyone who can competently achieve that look.  How can they possibly stand out?  For me, choosing a clear vision and persisting in keeping a clear voice illustrates best for me how I feel about what I am shooting and what I want to communicate.  I guess four years at art school makes you realize that that is what it is all about anyway.

I think all photographers have so much to express and have so many great new tools to achieve their vision.  I hope that each new photographer recognizes the potential of what discovering their own vision can do for their career.  Not only will each assignment be kick ass because you will be hired to shoot YOUR vision, your style, but chances are you will be compensated well for it.

Note- discovering your own voice doesn’t come overnight- it takes time to develop, lots of shooting, lots of looking and lots of thinking about what you have to say.   Then keeping it updated and fresh will seem like fun rather than a chore.”