Culinary - Farm to Fork
Creative Collaborations -
Photography for Your Vision and Projects.
Culinary - Artists and Those Who Love What They Do
I love full circles and process - literally taking something from it's seed or concept, planting the beautiful seed in the Earth and through the cultivation of the seed other aspects of life are also nurtured; ourselves, our families, community, and Mother Earth. As these jewels of the Earth ripen and blossom, they are pure vibrance and then they're placed in the hands of individuals or chefs who now go on to create culinary artistry they in turn share with their friends, family and patrons of their restaurants. It's a win win situation for those who cultivate the land, the chefs and people who prepare with these healthy jewels to those who have the opportunity to partake in this wonderful, healthy and exquisite food, which feeds our soul. And...this is what I love to capture through my photography and collaborations.
As you can see, food is something that is very much alive and as I love being in the present when I photograph for the cookbooks, what resonates with me is the full tapestry and wonder of Earth's bounty together with the ideas and processes the chefs go through to create these culinary masterpieces. It's really the whole creative process which lends itself so well to the storytelling photography I so love.
Each chef I've had the opportunity to create with reflects such passion about their gifts, where they receive their inspiration and all love sharing these gifts with others. The books I've photographed are diverse, that's what I love as well. They all reflect the process and also you are invited in to understand where their passion and inspiration comes from. In Jeff's case (Elote Cafe) it's the process of the food, his wonderful relationship with the people who work with him, and the ambiance of his beautiful restaurant, along with people having a great time. As well, with Lisa Dahl, it was her love of Italy and all aspects of life which reflect the romantic in all life and in food as well. So her book blended in the love and joy of Italy with the beauty and wonder of Sedona, capturing the ambiance in both areas of the world, which she also reflects in her exquisite restaurants in Sedona. Queen Creek Olive Mill was about the process with the family and preparing with healthy foods, in a short period of time that were quite magnificent. Their Olive Mill in Queen Creek is a family passion. I so loved photographing their creative processes and the Rea family is a delight to create with.
I feel the chefs I've created with enjoy their unfolding story and have chosen a way to personalize the way they express themselves and their culinary expressions and that's why their cookbooks are extraordinarily exquisite. Each has received over the top awards nationally as well as internationally.
I feel the same way about the vines and the wine. There is a full circle process which manifests with the qualities of the the year in which it is born.
Said very poetically by Carl Jung:
"We are born at a given moment, in a given place and like the vintage years of the wine, we have the qualities of the year and the season to which we are born"
For those winegrowers who embrace sustainability, it's their goal to create delicious wines which express the unique character of the landscape, conveying love of family, education and living life to its fullest.
For Barbara and Bob Predmore of Alcantara Vineyards, their vineyard was a dream vision to grow the vines and wines and in this growing to bring family and community closer together. One supports the other and so the full circle continues.
Eric, owner of Page Springs vineyards has said "We believe to make great wine, we must take just as much responsibility for the lands we steward as the community we live in. We strongly feel that growing grapes and raising glass is a cultural ritual that fosters friendship, brings together families and unites communities. Good wine is for the people."
"Wine is sunlight held together with water" - Galileo Galilei
My journey as a professional photographer has also enabled me to experience diverse types of photography in the culinary area and this enable me to help you manifest your vision and I am happy to create with you here in Dove Mountain, Oro Valley, Southern Arizona, Sedona as well as other locations. Have camera, will travel.
The Metaphor of Farm to Table - Full Circle
As adults we have cultivated manifestations numerous times in our lives and so this vision of planting a seed and bringing it into beautiful maturation is something we are somewhat familiar with even though the venue and terrain may be different.
We use our gifts we've been given and our experiences to help us understand the best way to take an idea and grow it along the way. I can see this through my evolution as a professional photographer; all my experiences have enabled me to grow and deepen my love for what I do and therefore there is a deeper level to the storytelling photography which I gift to others.
Cultivation is another process - it takes time and patience - it takes love not only for ourselves, our family and our community to help us with this process - it takes a village and more. It takes faith, belief and trust that what we have planted will grow and will come into beautiful ripening.
We're not left in the dark. Because once the seed is planted, we see results almost immediately with the sprout of green - that beautiful spring green and then the plant continues to grow and we see this unfold as it matures into this beautiful jewel of the Earth.
Through this process we also care for our families, engage in our daily activities; yet our goals are clear and we nurture this garden daily. When at last it is ripe, we are able to pick these beauties and share them with our family and friends and the chefs also are able to take their inspired vision and create wonderful culinary delights, which we get to enjoy in further celebration.
The chefs have their particular gifts and experiences they bring to this lavish table. They have a vision that is unique to them and their love grows just like the farmers fruits and vegetables grow to their full ripening. They weave the tapestries of the essence of the Earth with spices and special ingredients to prepare their magical and wondrous delights for those who enter their doors to dine with them.
I feel the food which we take into our bodies nourish our whole being and when all the visions and seeds have been planted and honored so well along the growing process, these foods come into our hearts, souls, bodies and mind and they become this clear impetus for us to move forward with our own visions and dreams.
Wow, I had guts! Traveling off into the world with very little money, only a desire to be a potter. People helped me, taught me and showed me a life I could not even imagine...
The beauty of clay, fire and water combined together with the excellence of pure form make Mary Margaret's Sedona Pottery. She's been creating, and devoting her life long passion to pottery, which has further evolved into a wonderful book, "50 Years of Fire and Clay," reflecting the wonder of her creative process and the beauty of her artistry as a potter and sculptor.
Mary Margaret puts it so well, "I have enough ideas or things to make in clay to last three lifetimes...or more! Inspiration is something that enters a project and takes over. The energy is all around and my hands seem to work on their own without need of the brain. Hours go by and I seem to be able to do something, I didn't know I could do, but also knew no concept of; like being taken over."
If you have visited Sedona Pottery, you understand it is a true Sedona experience; where Sedona meets creativity; a place to pick up a one-of-kind gift, find exquisite ethnic and tribal jewelry and enjoy great conversation. If you have not had the privilege of visiting this one of a kind experience, now is your chance.
Mary Margaret's Sedona Pottery
50 Years of Fire & Clay
Queen Creek Olive Harvest
I especially love the farm to fork movement and different special times during the year, so I created a digital photographic story on the Harvest 2017.
Jewels of the Earth
One of the things I've loved is experiencing the beautiful jewels of the Earth through gardens and chefs who create culinary delights with these jewels. The flowers and vegetables we behold in the gardens are really like amazing and exquisite reflects of the finest art you can find. I wanted to share the beauty and wonder I behold in the Gardens with others.
The Creative Organic Process
Photographing creative processes are something I really enjoy. I love to create with people who are excited about what they do. And...Mary Margaret is no exception.
This is a way to share what I love with others.
Jeff''s Elote Cafe -
This Was My Dream
Jeff really loves his creative culinary process an the people he works with, together with his people who love his restaurant. It was a fun and inspiring collaboration to create the photography for Jeff.
"This was my dream. This is all I ever wanted to do and sure you get tired sometimes but then you have to remember this is all you ever wanted to do. When you're lucky enough to practice the craft you wanted to do your whole life successfully, you always find space in yourself not to take it for granted. "...Jeff Smedstad
"There can be a million ways to look at it; It can be about the food; but it's not just about the food. It can be about your customers and how happy they can be; it can be about your staff and how far they've come in their growth, or where you're standing today as far as pulling your team together and making it better. As much as it's important to have great recipes; it's really important to put together a great team.”
"The opportunities I've had and the people that I've met in Sedona have made it even more special, like yourself (yes, that would be Janise) who have helped me put together my books. That was a pipe dream when I moved here to Sedona and that all came into reality and then I met Carole who helped with the editing and designing.
At the base of it, I've always wanted to be a chef and take care of people and I've always wanted to have a successful restaurant. I never really dreamed I would have a book, so that's on top of that, and it's like a dream, and that's what keeps me going; and it's really cool!
One of the things I admire about other people is they have fun doing what they do and it seems effortless and I know now it's not effortless, but if you can do it with some degree of effort and some degree of fun, it can really make it special!"
Visualization & Collaboration
with Lisa Dahl
This is about the beautiful process of creative collaboration with others. It all begins with intention and being centered as you begin this process. Intention is the seed and when we are in a relaxed and allowing space within our physical being, we are able to nourish and nurture the growth of this seed into beautiful reality, whether we're creating photography, writing our thoughts, or moving forward in a collaborative venture.
I always love to collaborate with other like minded people and I’ve been so very fortunate to do so through my years as a professional storytelling photographer. However, what I love about this time in our history, with the technology available is that we all have the opportunity to create stories which speak to our hearts.
That’s where visualization comes in. For me, I love photography yet my other senses along with my intuition come to play when I’m creating. I love to listen to what others are excited about and this somehow stimulates the photographic images I see in my mind’s eye. As I spend time with others in the creative collaboration, I understand them on a deeper level and this also spurs more branches within the endeavor, project or story.
It’s like when Lisa Dahl asked me to accompany her to Italy to create the photography for her book - The Elixir of Life - she had in mind taking shots of food and the way restaurants and retail shops displayed the food, along with completed dishes she created. What happened during our journey to Italy is that even though the original intention was very much the heart of the project, I began photographing people and the places which were so amazing through Tuscany. As well, as Lisa created with a local chef, I captured the creative process. This is what I love about the creative process and storytelling photography, is that it has the opportunity to blossom in far greater ways and with a richer tapestry when you are in tune and connected to the unlimited possibilities within the original concept. It’s like the tree begins as a seed, yet the branches reach way up into the sky.
Sedona's Chef David Schmidt
Shares His Inspiration
Three things I was inspired to remember:
Love what you do, surround yourself with people who are as passionate as you are, and continue to learn and grow.
If you've had the opportunity to see David at work and immersed in what he loves, just take the opportunity to dine at the Pump House Station Urban Eatery and Market. I love creating photography with people who are excited about what they do, and David is certainly one of those people.
I'm always interested in what inspires artists to create and also what keeps their inspiration alive. So, I thought I'd share with you my interview with David.
"What drives me and keeps me going everyday as an artist? You need that creative passage everyday, you can't be mundane. My creative expression has to be on the plate.
Certain things I gravitate toward as a chef ; I enjoy the aspect of the local farmers market across the street and utilizing whatever ingredients are around. Foraging only happens a couple months a year but I really like that time of year as well; it shows us how we can use the bountiful and plentiful forest around us that gives us so much."
What inspires David,
"Seasons inspire me, weather inspires me, different growers I do use inspire me. They bring me things constantly. Changing dinner menus; that's where most of my passion is; in creating dinners. The sandwiches and paninis - we've got that down; I am currently working on menus, tweaking it and putting my stamp on it. People come because of what has been built just like our menu; it suits everyone and we receive constant praise "Can I tell the chef how great everything was?" - sometimes we're so busy and we're just pumping the food out; I'm wondering how everyone is so happy with the food.
I'm doing what I love and that's why I started doing this. I think being submerged in food has made my inspiration go through the roof.
I'm always thinking of concepts and ideas and this isn't all I want to do - I want to do some other things - I'm a young guy and I'm going to be around for a long time. I work 5 to 6 days a week and I enjoy teaching and showing other people how to cook, and showing them exactly what I do. Hopefully it bleeds into them. A lot of people have natural talent, and a lot of people you have to show over and over and over. I love to surround myself with those who are as passionate as
I am about the food, like myself, who are natural to the food; they get textures, they get flavors, acid, sweetness and being able to combine those is really special to the palate."