October’s Highs and Lows

Here we are already a week into November and I’m just now looking back to my highs and lows from October. Where did October go? With as busy as September was I was thinking October would be nice and laid back. Turns out, October was hoppin’ as well. Here are a few highlights.

There were many highs for October. It started with a trip to Dallas to speak at the I Heart Faces Photography Conference where 200 women gathered to learn, share and encourage each other in the ways of photography. While most of the attendees’ primary focus was portrait photography, I lead a breakout session on how to light for food photography. It was a fun group and the venue was iconic…Southfork Ranch. Amy and I enjoyed getting back to Dallas and hitting a few of our favorite restaurants and catching up with friends. (see snapshots below)

Dallas Highlights

Back in Nashville my schedule included a mix of work for new and old clients with a balance of projects in studio as well as out on location. We even had a couple of outdoor shoots…taking advantage of the wonderful fall colors here in Nashville.

October felt a little like “workshop month”. I lead a mini-workshop (“Delicious Lighting”) at The Skillery in Nashville. We had about twenty people attend and my task was to give them a few food photography tips for making food look delicious with just $10 worth of lights (and a plunger) from Home Depot. Leading sessions like this reminds me of how much I enjoy teaching…as long as it’s not a full semester.

Probably the most exciting part of my October was working with a number of people on pre-production for a personal series we actually started shooting on November 1. We spent about two weeks working on sets, props and wrangling talent and crew. You’ll have to wait until November’s high/lows to get the full story.

You know, I’m usually a very critical person…making for no shortage of lows. I’m just wired that way—always finding something to be improved upon. I’d like to think it’s a constructive way of seeing things…or at least I try to keep it that way. But now I’m sitting here trying to think of a low for October and can’t come up with one. Sure, there are things that I desire and wish for but nothing that qualifies as a “low”. Clients have been great. I’ve been happy with the images we’re producing. My workflow is…uh…working. Our crew has been great. Sure, I’m having to address the usual things in our business like copyright infringement and equipment repairs but that’s just part of the territory. Maybe next month something bad but real exciting will happen for me to share. Or not.

On a personal note, one of our highs for our family was kayaking the Harpeth River. The boys did great and we all had a really good time…particularly stopping on a small island and working on our rock skipping skills.

That’s it for now. I hope you have a great November.


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Nashville’s Cat Bird Seat in Bon Appetit

There’s quite a buzz going on by food lovers not only here in Nashville but all over the country about Cat Bird Seat. Chefs Erik Anderson and Josh Habiger are the artists getting the attention with their unusual and progressive approach to fine dining. While I’ve not yet had the privilege of dining at Cat Bird Seat, I did get to spend a couple hours there one afternoon on assignment for Bon Appetit magazine.

Bon Appetit featured Cat Bird Seat as one of “The Hot 10 – America’s Best New Restaurants” in their September 2012 issue.

Cat Bird Seat Nashville TN - Bon Appetit

In the short time I spent there with Chef Erik and Chef Josh I immediately saw their commitment to the art of preparation and presentation. Everything is thought out with great intention. I’ll be honest, the idea of Roasted Pigeon (featured in the photo I took) doesn’t really get me excited, but I certainly do appreciate their approach—and that might just convince me to at least try it. No offense…I’ll just hold out for the crème brûlée.

Until then, bon appetit!

– Kyle

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My Bad French. His Grand Croque Madame

My French is terrible. To even insinuate that I speak any French is a big stretch. Years ago when I went to Paris I basically ate the same thing everyday because I only knew how to order a “crêpe” or a “croissant” …with variations like “oeuf” (egg), “jambon” (ham), “fromage” (cheese) and of course “chocolat” (that one’s obvious).

We recently had the privilege of working with Executive Chef Jim Filaroski from J. Alexander’s again, this time it was one of their signature brunch offerings–the Croque Madame. (Confession, I had to look it up when they first called. It sounds French. Turns out, it is.)

I get a little intimidated when working with chefs who are excellent at their craft. (It’s just me and my own insecurities…I’ll spare you my navel-gazing epiphanies for later.) Chef Filaroski is excellent at what he does, and to top it off, he’s got vision—artistic vision. I learned that last year on another project we did with him…artisan pizzas.

Despite my “I’m not worthy” feelings I enjoy our shoots with Chef Filaroski. Food stylist Teresa Blackburn, he and I all seem to share a certain amount of mutual respect when we work together…I contend he deserves the majority. Chef Filaroski and his team are great to work with and the general vibe is always one of artistic vision. (Come to think of it, working with people who have artistic vision is part of what attracted me to food photography from the beginning.)

So, here’s the final image and full page ad.

Croque Madame J. Alexander's

Also, a big thanks goes out to Jan (art director), Michael (assistant chef), Rory (first assistant), Mollie (agent) and Taylor (production assistant) for helping create a fun day and a great image.

Until next time… (or for you speakers of French… “jusqu’à la prochaine fois…”)

– Kyle

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September’s Highs and Lows

September was jammed packed—I can’t remember a month that’s been busier. It’s been filled with a whole lot of new…new and good…new clients, new 2nd assistant, new food stylist…the list goes on. I’m über thankful for all our clients, our crew, and all the fun we get to have while we work together. What a great combo.

This month’s high?
Working on another cookbook with Courtney Whitmore. (Last year we did photography for her succesful Push Up Pops book.) This time?… Forty fun images for her tasty new Frostings cookbook due out in March. How can you not have fun spending two weeks in the studio with pounds and pounds of powdered sugar and a great team—Courtney Whitmore and her fab crew Tessa and Hillary and my a-team Caroline, Rory and Ian. So, all that being said, here are a few behind the scenes snaps from the Frostings shoot.

This month’s low?
I’m stumped on this one. Perhaps my low is being so busy I haven’t had time to really savor the moments. It’s kinda hard for me to savor to start with—that’s part of being a Type-A. But, as I look back at what we’ve done this month I’m very pleased. So, I guess that’s kinda a cop out for a low since previous lows have been things like hitting my head with a ping pong paddle or arm wrestling a network router’s IP address. I know, exciting stuff.

Next month? Dallas. I’m sure my high will be something about an enchilada.


ps. On a personal note, celebrating 15 years of marriage to the most wonderful person I know was a high this month. Amy and I celebrated by buying rocking chairs (makes us sound really old) and going out for a very nice dinner at Eastland Café in East Nashville. At least we didn’t celebrate by going out and buying a new refrigerator. Maybe next year.

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Olympic Coffee Rings

Well the 2012 Olympic Games in London are officially over. I think I’ve watched more TV in the past two weeks than I have since college…but let’s not dwell on that.

For me, I was most drawn in by women’s gymnastic team (if they’re even old enough to be called “women”) and the superb talent of the women’s track team. What a special group of girls/ladies overall. That’s not to diminish any of the other competitors’ talents and efforts, but having been a really bad gymnast and a decent trackster I guess I just had a natural interest in these sports. I enjoyed watching the men’s teams as well but the amazing amount of composure and great attitudes of some of the women on those teams was just captivating.

Olympic Coffee Rings

So, what’s all this have to do with coffee? Absolutely nothing other than some visual inspiration that hit me during the games. What can I say, I took it as an opportunity to play a little with the Olympic rings. Who know’s what kind of inspiration will come with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. At this moment I’ve got nothing, but I’ve got some time.


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Olympic Dream

In our house there’s been a subtle buzz for the past couple of months. Granted, there’a always some level of buzz in our house with our three boys, but this buzz was infecting Amy and me as well. The buzz has been building up over time and only became more apparent last Friday night when we all huddled around the TV to watch the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. Every evening since we’ve enjoyed watching the various events…gymnastics, swimming, diving, archery, sculling.

Olympic Onion Rings

It’s interesting to hear the perspectives of a 6, 8 and 10 year old as they develop opinions about their favorite sports, which athletes they want to root for and answer the question “Was that really the Queen who jumped out of the helicopter?”

With the increasing medal count for Team USA we continue to share much of our evening captivated by the stories, the abilities and the accomplishments of these great dedicated athletes. I wonder what this inspiration will do for my boys…will Lego building be an Olympic sport one day? They can dream.


ps. The boys weren’t too keen on my idea to have British food as part of our Olympic watching experience…Pâté, Bangers-n-Mash and Fish-n-Chips didn’t sound too appetizing to them. Something to work up to I suppose.

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