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Baking Basics Production Phase 8: Beauty Photo Shoot

May 6, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose


In late January, we met with our photographer, Matthew Septimus, at the ICC (International Culinary Center) library in New York City to do research for our style/beauty shots sessions in April. Librarian, Sara Quiroz, made us feel at home, helping us find various books and magazines to flip through for inspiration and ideas for composition. Matthew photographed them for reference and also sent them to my editor Stephanie Fletcher for our upcoming conference call.


In 2013, we had the good fortune to have had my dear friend Caitlin Williams Freeman come from the West coast to style The Baking Bible, but that was not a possibility for this upcoming book because now she has two children under the age of two. Erin McDowel had been assistant to Caitlin, for The Baking Bible, which gave me the opportunity to see from her baking know-how and her artistry in styling that she would be perfect for this book. Then a series of synchronous events unfolded. Erin has become a much in demand stylist for publications and companies including Food 52 and King Arthur Flour. She is currently finishing up on her first book: The Fearless Baker, with the same publishing house as mine: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The day on which she asked me if I would consider writing the foreword for her book was the very day on which I asked her if she would consider being the stylist for mine. It is hard to measure which one of us was more delighted!

The Fearless Baker: Simple Secrets for Baking Like a Pro

While our baking kitchen in Hope, New Jersey, served as the ideal place for the step-by-steps photos, it would not work ideally for the style/beauty shots sessions as it was mutually agreed upon that most of the shots should be done with natural light. Erin came up with the perfect location: The Prop Workshop in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, New York. The workshop's studio had plenty of sunlight filled floor space for Matthew and his assistant, Pedro Espinoza, to set up the photography stage, and for Erin to have access to hundreds of props and table space to do her styling craft.





The kitchen area provided space for Woody and Erin's, assistant Katie Wayne, to prep and make our selected full-page "beauty shots" recipes.


The Prop Workshop also has a huge showroom with thousands of props, surfaces, and equipment for rent, just a hallway away.

Erin and I put together a schedule of our selected recipes for the intense 4 days of photography. First day was to start with made ahead recipes. The corn muffins was the first recipe to be styled and photographed. To aid Erin and Matthew in composition ideas, Matthew made prints from our step-by-step final step photos for all of us to reference.


Following the corn muffins, was our latest addition to the book, the Japanese Milk Bread, which I had made the day before. We also had several recipe shots to include me in the shot as well as possible front and back covers tries.


The scheduling worked smoothly. Woody and Katie managed to make styling perfect recipes on their first tries. My editor, Stephanie, came on the second day and was so pleased with the beauty shots, she felt free to leave us to our own devices for the rest of the shoot and loved the results!

Several things differed from our last experience in relatively remote upstate New York, for The Baking Bible shoot. In addition to the team being able to take home baked goodies each night, any remaining ones went over to The Prop Workshop showroom for their staff and customers. And if we needed something which we hadn't thought to bring, it was easily acquired within a few block's reach. As chief stylist, Erin didn't have time to make her fabulous lunches, but she came through with great take out choices, plus we enjoyed dinners with friends at some of Manhattan's finest restaurants.

Our final day included Matthew's daughter Nora, coming to the studio for her school's "invite your child to work day." Along with taking possible portrait shots of me, Nora was happy to be the photographer for our team RoseWood and company shot.


During the rare 'down times' while Matthew and Pedro were waiting for the next competed recipe to photograph, Matthew and I were able to edit down the possible selects from which to choose the final photos to portray our recipes. Matthew gave us prints of the best, which now don several of my baking library's shelves.


Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Jenn
05/13/2017 09:50 AM

i kept saying "why do we need full page beauty shots" when we have finished shots of all the steps but now i know! so exciting.

another bake through--oh yes--wouldn't that be lovely.....


Dear Rose, I am very excited to hear about the natural light photography!!! Can't wait for the book - will there be a bake a long, I wonder? :)


Thank you Rose for your kind words..โ˜บ




Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Rosa V.
05/ 8/2017 11:25 PM

that is a great compliment coming from you Rosa, who do such beautiful work! step-by-step photos are laborious to create but boy are the results worth it!!! can't wait til Fall of 2018 but lot of work remains in production.


Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from hector
05/ 8/2017 11:24 PM

thank you for the vote of confidence Hector!


Hello Rose, I also can't wait for the new book to come out to the book store in Canada, Ontario, Barrie, I was ready about these lovely and delicious photos up come recipes.๐Ÿ˜Ž, and I'm sure that the book is going to be absolutely fantastic...


i have read every word on your blog, since 2006, and specially all your postings about how a book is created and photographed. I can't wait for this Baking Basics Book! I shall say it will be the Baking Basics Bible!


Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Olawale Taiwo
05/ 8/2017 09:53 AM

thank you Oly!


Olawale Taiwo
Olawale Taiwo
05/ 6/2017 06:17 PM

Hello Madam Rose
Congratulations on the forth com


Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum
05/ 6/2017 03:46 PM

thank you both! it's fun to do and fun to share!


Melissa Leet
Melissa Leet
05/ 6/2017 10:41 AM

Congratulations to all! It sounds like a lot of work tempered by a lot of opportunity to make things enjoyable and fun!


Very interesting process! Can't wait for the book to be on the shelves.



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