David Herzog owner of, as well as caramel maker for One Fork Farm Caramels, makes an outstanding and delicious product. So of course I was more than happy to photograph for his company. We decided to go with a “rustic” approach with the images that would complement their branding and packaging. It was also fun to style the caramels with the ingredients used in the various flavors. David wanted to create a product that used locally sourced ingredients such as Woodblock Chocolate, Jacobsen Salt and Portland’s Eastside Distilling. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite.
From truffle inspired dinners to participation in actual truffle foraging with trained dogs there are many events associated with the Oregon Truffle Festival. It is a truly a unique event in the United States and draws people from across the country. The Truffle Festival expresses a sense of place like no other event. Against a backdrop of Oregon Wine Country and covering a span of 10 days it celebrates the rich bounty of Oregon wine, culinary delights and of course Oregon Truffles.
Last year I partnered with talented winery owner and winemaker Mary Derby of DAMA Wines to produce a fine art black and white portrait of the notable women of wine in Walla Walla. At first we thought it would be fun to feature naked women. We actually collaborated on a lovely portrait of Mary just wearing her muck boots while holding a glass of wine and sitting on a wine barrel. While quite a lovely photo, not all of the women were receptive to the idea of posing nude! I could not exactly blame them.
I was then inspired by Annie Leibovitz’s work on the 2016 Pirelli Calendar. I wanted to focus on the women’s strength and character, by having the images all in black and white in the same location. Ali Mayfield generously donated the production space at The Walls Winery before it opened to serve as a “studio.” To further the Leibovitz aesthetic, I painted my own canvas backdrops to emulate her photographic style. The calendar itself was beautifully defined by graphic designer Whit Gurley of Angled End Identities.
It was also important to the women that a portion of the sales, once printing expenses were covered, would be donated to the Enology and Viticulture scholarship program at Walla Walla Community College. At first Mary and I were concerned that there would not be enough women to include in a 12 month calendar. We ended up with 16 – not all winemakers, but all who have an influential role in the local industry.
Back in November I had met Robert Mellen Rowett at a wine tasting industry event. I immediately fell in love with his sparkling wines. I was thrilled when shortly after, his business partner and wife Julie, contacted me to take some images to update their website for Mellen Meyer Winery. The first project was to collaborate on “winemaker” portraits. We had a vision of doing something that had a very northwest environmental winter feel to it. I definitely did not want a bright sunny day, and was hoping for a foggy morning. I was lucky and the weather was cloudy and misty and my subject photogenic!
The next project was to photograph their bottles of sparkling wine, as well as his Pinot Noir. Mellen Myer Winery’s primary focus is 0n Methode Champenoise. They are a small or boutique producer creating high quality and delicious sparkling wine. For me it was especially fun to edit because the labels are so beautiful! Photographing wine bottles is tricky because they are glass their surfaces are highly reflective. It is important that the label is beautifully lit, because I recognize that vineyards put much thought and expense into producing those labels.
I have photographed for Carlton Cellars in the past, but this time Robin wanted to focus on the menagerie of donkeys, goats, chickens, cats and the vineyard dog, Coltrane. While Dave just wanted a portrait of him with Robin and Coltrane in the vineyard, on my wish list was a family portrait featuring as many of the animals that we could possibly assemble and that would cooperate to some degree. I think we were able to accomplish what every one wanted from the photo shoot. It actually ended up as 2 shoots because on the first day a goat escaped from the coral and poor Robin ended up with 2 black eyes trying to entice, beg, and lasso the goat back to where he was suppose to be and not free and roaming through the vineyard. I was not able to finish up what we wanted to do until she healed. Yes, it was an adventure!
I was so looking forward to this session with Monique and Jeff. Monique is a certified sommelier so of course the engagement portraits had to be taken at a winery. We chose my friend’s Dave Grooters and Robin Russell’s vineyard, Carlton Cellars as the location. We were lucky to be able to shoot between an extended rain break. I enjoyed watching the 2 of them interacting together, you can tell how much they value their friendship and of course their love for each other.
Earlier this summer I photographed Marc Meyers, Four Grace’s new winemaker in Dundee, Oregon. Marc previously worked for Gran Moraine and La Crema in California before coming to Four Graces. The winery wanted portraits in a variety of different settings, so we started at 5 in the morning to capture the best light. Mid-day in the Willamette Valley on a very sunny day in the middle of the summer can be a bit harsh. This was my second shoot at the winery and I was familiar with the setting. I knew that we would have to start early for the outside shots. We then ended up at a shared production facility because I wanted to create some images of him with barrels. They have since finished their own new production space. I am looking forward to trying some of Marc’s Pinot Noir.
I was really excited to work with Beth Eriendson of the FAB Marketing Group on a website makeover for Blakeslee Vineyard Estates. We first started with portraits of Bill and Sheila Blakeslee, both in a production context as well as outside in their vineyard with it’s stunning views of Mt. Hood. I have to admit that I love creating portraits on-location, so I was very pleased when they agreed to work with me at two locations. The portraits taken with their wine barrels are a bit more formal in how they are posed. I thought that doing something a little bit more relaxed and loose would be nice to reflect their warm and engaging personalities as well. So shortly before sunset we headed back to the vineyard to finish up with the portrait session.
The following week, it was time to style images that showcased the beauty and hospitality of the the wine tasting experience at Blakeslee Vineyard Estates. Beth did a wonderful job in organizing the “models” and clothing colors. The day was beautiful and very sunny, which of course for a photographer brings it’s challenges. While hoping for overcast, to make my life easier, I was prepared for full sunlight bringing my strobes and battery packs. In the end, I was happy that it was sunny because a cloudy day would not have created the happy ambience that come across in the photographs. As I write this, the new website is not yet finished. I can’t wait to see the website when it is finished.
It was time for updated portraits of the executive staff at the headquarters of SAIF Corporation in Salem, Oregon and Mike Watters, the communications and design manager, whom I had met several years ago, contacted me. He believed that my portrait style was exactly what they were looking for. They wanted images that presented the executive leadership as professional but yet portrayed in a relaxed manner. While I often shoot business portraits in the studio, I actually prefer to work on location. I enjoy the challenges of lighting and posing that setting up on location presents. I think portraits especially business portraits can be more compelling than those done taken in front of the standard grey background.
I have been working with David Goldblatt to create new images for his website that will put more focus on his work as a composer. He is a brilliant musician and has worked with some of the major players in the music industry including Mark Isham, Stanley Clarke, Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter and Madeleine Peyroux. Without realizing it you may have already listened to his compositions and arrangements. Some have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, EZ Streets and The Defenders as well as others. While setting up for one particular shot, David played one of his pieces, a tribute to Christopher Reeves. It was achingly beautiful. To listen to David play piano was certainly an added benefit to the portrait session.
Back in February during the Portland Jazz Festival, I documented his solo jazz performance at Classic Pianos. I was totally captivated by the music. Working with David to create images that he can use to complement his marketing was a great experience for me. Not only is he very talented but a very warm, humble and engaging person.