While I don’t take them on as often as I photograph chefs and restaurants, I do look forward to the occasional product photography shoot. If the company is one I believe in (it also doesn’t hurt if they make something delicious), then finding ways to make their product shine is a welcome challenge, and one quite different than photographing an already-composed dish in a restaurant setting.
I particularly enjoy doing product photography for people whose businesses are an extension of themselves and their creativity because they, in turn, push me to be creative. I am inspired by the entrepreneurs I work with and what they make. Take my friend Emilie Coulson Salgado’s company Daughter’s Granola. She makes small-batch artisan granola that I already love to eat, so shooting her line for the Daughter’s Granola website was an easy gig to say yes to.
Emilie started making granola when she moved out to California from Wisconsin. Back home, she ate granola from her parents’ restaurant, The White Gull Inn, every morning. When she realized she couldn’t keep asking them to ship it, and instead could source all kinds of nuts and fruits in California, she began Daughter’s Granola. She offers two original blends, the Door County Blend and the Orange County Blend, named for the place she is from and the place she lives now. Each features ingredients from its namesake location. Emilie also started the Granola of the Month Club, which highlights a different seasonal blend every month of the year, delivered to club members in the mail.
Still, even with all the different blends, planning a shoot for Daughter’s Granola was a bit of a challenge. As Emilie warned me, “It’s not easy to make granola look dynamic when you just pour it in a bowl.” To get beyond this dilemma, I photographed Daughter’s Granola in my own home, on my own time, as I do with many small business product shoots. It was as much an assignment from a client as it was a test for myself: How could I play with this opportunity? How could I surprise myself? With all of my backdrops, props, and equipment on hand, my own kitchen was the best studio.
I photographed some of Emilie’s granolas for simple presentations on her website, as well as a few up-close-and-personal macro shots, which are essential if one is to tell the difference between a granola with sunflower seeds and one with pumpkin seeds.
But to mix up the shot list, I also thought about how I could use Daughter’s Granola in an unexpected way. I love to bake, so it was obvious to me that I needed to incorporate some of the granola blends into baked goods, including dark chocolate chip cookies with the Orange County Blend and banana muffins with a pecan-chocolate crumble from the December Granola of the Month. (Scroll to bottom of blog post for recipes!) I also took one in a savory direction, mixing the Door County Blend with Feta cheese and adding it to a green salad as a crunchy salty-and-sweet topping (see below photo).
This is part of the fun—I was able to create new recipes, and Emilie received photos of her granola being used in ways that neither of us could have dreamed up ahead of time! I always appreciate when everything aligns so I can get creative in the kitchen and the studio, like I was able to for this shoot.
RECIPE: Dark Chocolate Chip-Granola Cookies Made with Daughter’s Granola Orange County Blend
Yields approx. 24 cookies
RECIPE: Banana Muffins with Daughter’s Granola Pecan-Chocolate December Blend Crumble Topping
Yields 10 full-size muffins
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