Behind the Scene

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This article appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Texoma Living!.

When you open a magazine like Texoma Living! you expect to see vibrantly colored photographs of food perfectly prepared and beautifully presented. It is the job of the chef, the stylist and the photographer to make it seem all so delectable and effortless.

Like most things in the media, what you see is generally just the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Behind the scenes are people you don’t see using talents you might not imagine.

Our editorial staff started working on this issue’s food features back in mid-January. Though truth be told, we put the ideas on paper as early as last spring. Seeing a planned food photo shoot come to fruition is a matter of well choreographed chaos.

By February, Chef Cathy had decided that this summer’s food section would focus on fresh striped bass tacos prepared on the grill (see story on page 66) and a foursome of simple-to-prepare hearty main course salads.

Executive Style Editor Carol Davis joined the team in early March to offer her advice on a location and props.

Location, location, location. The team agreed we would scout for a grand outdoor kitchen that would be part of a lush backyard setting with pool and lots of colorful flower beds.

From our short list of exceptional outdoor kitchens in Texoma we made our choice and put Carol to work on securing the location for our shoot.

Eddie and Brenda Young agreed to let us use their home, and we set a date to do a site survey—look things over andget our bearings. Then, we set the date for the photo shoot.

Doing outdoor photography in April is an iffy situation when you are at the mercy of random spring storms bringing sometimes unpredictable rain. After one rained out date, another was set and we finally saw clear skies.

Whenever possible, the magazine staff likes to work with local retailers to line up props like tableware, linens, stemware, and serving accessories.

We have a relationship with Pier 1 that Carol Davis has developed, so we headed for the merchandise packed aisles of our local Pier 1 at Sherman Town Center. (It’s not unusual to work with the corporate product placement people in Fort Worth, but we prefer to work on the local level with the local manager.)

One of our biggest issues as a creative team is budgeting time. We all have XXL imaginations and we mostly let them run wild. We sometimes plan too many set ups (individual shots) and make it too complex—more than we can handle.

I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, I like the idea that we reach high, but it can be disappointing when we are not able to do all that we set out to do. It’s an issue we’re working on resolving.

On the day of the shoot, Carol Davis and her assistant Lisa Howell arrive at the Young home early in the day to begin setting up. There is a lot of work to bedone and it all must be ready when the photographer arrives.

In the interim Chef Cathy Zeis arrives with two cart loads of groceries and kitchen paraphernalia and begins to prep the food.

About four hours after the first team members arrive, we are nearly ready for Senior Photographer Anne-Marie Shumate to appear with her cartful of equipment and two assistants. At this point, I stroll into the scene to see if anything needs to be taste tested.

It is a testament to their sweetness that Carol, Cathy, and Anne-Marie each ask for my opinion on some superfluous issue so as to help me feel involved and needed.

But most of my time is spent sitting with homeowner Eddie Young in his game room, talking politics, business, and baseball while we get to know each other. I quickly discover this is a guy I want to know better. Besides, he promises that his golf game is every bit as bad as mine. Though that is certainly hard to imagine.

With the sun in decline and everyone fairly well exhausted, Carol calls it a wrap and we start the clean up. As usual, we did not get all of the shots we had planned, but we leave satisfied, and the Youngs have their home back in good order. By the next day we are setting the first meeting date to plan our Fall Issue food photo shoot.

Location: Eddie & Brenda Young
Plants & landscape: Willie Steele, Sitescape
Table settings & accessories: Pier 1
Publicity photographer: Will Watson
Styling assistant: Lisa Howell
Photo assistants: Colton Ward, Victoria Curry
Food and beverage: Albertson’s
Pool and spa: Allison Pools

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