Sweet and Savory Change

Just when you think the planets are aligned, the creative mind goes into hyper drive and causes a shift.  A shift that demands attention due to the logical flow of events....a shift that  when brought to fruition, will enhance your creative endeavors and provide solutions to what I have felt is a "missing link" for so many new or wanna-be bloggers and creative business start-ups.  

Whether you have been blogging for 8 years or 8 minutes...perhaps you are still jotting down idea notes for how to even bring your CREATIVE dreams to life....my vision for you is COMING and IT WILL BE....

Sweet and Savory Change

Exciting changes are on the horizon for JoanMarie Company and these changes will greet you with a warm welcome of a new site design, unique creative  blogging/branding solutions, and fabulous answers to what I have found is an ongoing need in the online blogging/marketing/branding community!

A time to seek out FRESH VISION..... to answer a CALLING.... time for a SWEET and SAVORY change!

Over the next few weeks, a fresh new look and feel will take place at JoanMarie Company and I know these changes will be just as exciting for you as they are for me.  

I look forward to the next few weeks as all of the pieces come together and will be equally as excited to share them all with you!

A happy WELCOME to the new Subscribers and Visitors to my blog and a special THANK YOU to those who have followed, commented, and joined me on this crazy blogging ride so far....

More updates to come as this is just the beginning!


Thyme for Donuts

Would you like to hear something that is a cross between really comical and somewhat of a conundrum?

I love to photograph food but do not enjoy cooking....

...how does that work?

I enjoy baking to a certain degree (NO COOKIES) but the thought of main dish recipes leaves me uninterested.  I read and purchase cookbooks purely for the imagery and styling.  I try my best with food styling and set up but at the end of the day, I just love taking pictures of "cooked" food. (period.)

Enter the delightful and everyday plain vanilla cake donut...and some gorgeous fresh thyme...

With a simple lemon juice powdered sugar glaze and some sprinkles of thyme, the photoshoot began...


I love going through my vintage Ovenex bakeware stash and finding the perfect prop to further the compositions... 

I had a vision of the color palette I wanted for these images and am quite pleased with the result...

New angles and lighting...yep, aside from the stacked donut image at the beginning of the post, I am using artificial lighting!!  I believe I have found the ideal set up which allows me the ability to shoot whenever I feel like it.  I understand and appreciate the virtues of "natural" light but found this limited me so much in the available time to take pictures.  

No more waiting for the perfect time of day at the perfect window with the perfect weather.....I can shoot whenever I like.  I am pleased with the outcome as there is minimal effort needed in post processing and I feel this colors are staying true and clean.


Believe it or not, these were actually quite tasty!!  I may try this with other glaze flavors and fresh herbs...


Simply using plain cake donuts from the local grocery store, some fresh thyme, and a simple lemon juice powdered sugar glaze, I had a chance to experiment with composition and lighting.

 Another personal challenge result of this shoot is the following image...

In all my years of taking pictures, I have NEVER attempted to add a human element and action shot......

I learned a ton just by trying something different and see the "action" of pouring, sprinkling, scooping, etc. happening more and more in my images!! (yes, I know the spoon is up too high but for a first attempt, I am happy!

It was a fun day with the donuts and thyme!

Now, what can I dress up next??????

Have a wonderful week friends and be sure to say "hello" in the comments below - I LOVE hearing from you!!



Lessons and Learning


Life moves quickly, communication is instantaneous, information is shared with the world with a click of a button.  New apps appear to help us better organize our life, our blog posts, images, tasks, projects, lists, etc.  New articles appear with "exciting and new" information on how to be a better blogger, how to monetize, how to increase our followers and how to stay popular.  Hurry up, get on board, work the process, follow the tips, share your stats!!   ....the information comes at you warp speed and goes on and on....

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? 

Then we are exposed to the upcoming trends in social media and advised that if we want to remain part of the game, we should take note of these.  Join groups, make videos, keep your social media feeds active with good content, and stay alert in this process.  It is a never ending cycle of change, enhancements, and growth.  We add this pressure to ourselves and our online presence and soon, the creative fire either gets entirely out of hand or it becomes a smoldering pile of half burnt logs.  We burn up or burn out trying to find our "place"


I actively participate in two social media outlets by choice, Pinterest and Instagram.  I have no intention of spreading that further as the other options hold no interest to me.  If I have no interest, they will become neglected and (refer to the second paragraph above) your not working the process correctly for optimum results per the experts.  

What then?  What next?  Are my blogging efforts going unnoticed?

Several months ago, I found myself in the "fire burning out of hand" blogging category while trying to sit at "the big kids table".  My mind was all over the map.  My ideas were beyond anything humanly possible.  My scope was so widespread that it just quit being fun.  I was comparing myself to others constantly.  I was developing a defeated attitude.  I ran out of ideas and plans.  Lost sight of direction and what makes me happy.  It all ran out.  

I even entertained the notion of quitting blogging altogether!!

It was at that moment that someone tapped me on the shoulder (thanks Grandma) and brought it to my attention that there was no defined rule book for blogging.  There are no prerequisites for blogging.  There is no expectation for blogging.  Just human beings with passions and a desire to either document or share.  We each have the option to decide our end goal with our blogs and there is no right or wrong answer!


Before I go any further, please know that I take my hat off to those blogs and bloggers that have used their marketing skills, many hours of time, and increased blog trend knowledge to create email subscriber lists that are massive, garnered the attention of brands, and have seen the monetary fruits of their labors.  They are blogging rock stars indeed and prove that hard work and strong attention to the "processes" does pay off.  

Yes, I admire ALL of them!

BUT....where does that leave me?  Am I lazy?  Am I uninspired?  Am I ignoring the experts?  Do I not care about blog growth?  Have I lost sight of my reason for starting this blog?  When did blogging become so business-like and how did I miss that article?????????????

I guess you could say I am "old school".  As much as I enjoy today's technology, I still love verbal communication, getting a surprise USPS letter, or a phone call vs. a text.  My life moves fast with family and work and shows no sign of slowing down.  I need my blog, photographs, and creativity to be my fun, my passion, and my slow,-down, happy, safe place.  I need an area to create still life photography.  I NEED my blog.

Sure, I have dreams and hopes that someday one of my posts or images will really "speak" to someone.  My words will reach someone with that "Ah Ha" moment...my images will inspire someone to craft a photo of their own.  I would love a brand to seek me out or be asked for photography services.  I believe we all do have these hopes and dreams and that is what keeps us moving forward in our creative endeavors right?????

I am also a realist and know that in order for these to happen, I should probably be following the experts advice but what if that just doesn't jive with me?  What if it just doesn't feel "right"?  Is it OK to not be noticed and yet remain creatively fulfilled with a blog?  Will I be content with a small group of awesome followers?  That was my struggle up to now and the questions constantly plaguing me.

I don't have an editorial calendar of post ideas or pre-scheduled draft posts on my blog.  Just me, my thoughts, and when I do have time, my photographs.  I am taking the thoughts of massive business building right out of the equation.  I want to post when I have, what I feel,  is something good to share.  Whether that is weekly, monthly, or random - whenever that is, I simply want it to be meaningful to both myself and you.

Lately I have been using my camera and creativity on food photography.  Still life images have and always will be a peaceful way to stretch my creativity.  I am a planner so this works perfectly with each step from choosing the subject, the setting, and the mood I am seeking to capture.  It fulfills me completely.

As a treat to myself, I FINALLY ordered a cookbook that I have thought about for years.  When I say "years", I literally mean YEARS.  It was not so much for the highly detailed recipes but curiosity of this Chef and the story behind his successful (and every expen$ive) French Laundry fine dining restaurant.  As I waited for the book to arrive, I started to think about "what if"..."what if" I could find a small recipe and create a beautiful sauce or an appetizer or be exposed to a new taste that I never thought possible?


The book arrives and like I usually do,  find time when all is quiet and I can absorb every page.  Grab my coffee, curl up in my chair, and begin the "new book" process.  From the start, I was expecting a very sharp opinionated expression of cooking well.  Cooking perfectly.  Cooking expertly.

The recipes are very detailed, the ingredient lists long, the process of cooking these dishes time consuming, and a noticeable skill level required to achieve success.  What I didn't expect and was delighted beyond belief by were these quotes from Chef Thomas Keller....

“Cooking is not about convenience and it's not about shortcuts. Our hunger for the twenty-minute gourmet meal, for one-pot ease and prewashed, precut ingredients has severed our lifeline to the satisfactions of cooking. Take your time. Take a long time. Move slowly and deliberately and with great attention.” 
― Thomas KellerThe French Laundry Cookbook

This quote made me think long and hard.  It spoke to taking time to do things right and enjoying each step.  To be conscientious of each ingredient selection, each prep step, each cooking method....."Take a long time"...."Move slowly and deliberately and with great attention".....

These words resonated with my so deeply and it applied to so many areas of life....including family, work, AND blogging..... 

“I think that you’ve got to make something that pleases you and hope that other people feel the same way.” 
― Thomas Keller

With every page, the sudden realizations hit like thunder bolts.  The words reached me and made me think....the words that would affect my actions moving forward...

“When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy, that is what cooking is all about.” 
― Thomas KellerThe French Laundry Cookbook

I "devoured" (pun intended) every word in every recipe, the life stories, the lessons.  I love this book on so many levels and am going to work up the courage to try some of the recipes, the time consuming techniques, and unique ingredients.  I am going to photograph beautiful images of the process and of the dish.  Whether from Chef Thomas Keller's cookbook or the myriad of other incredible cookbooks AND food blogs I am discovering everyday....I am going to slow down and read every word. 

I am going to slow down and be more deliberate in my photography.  I am going to remove the insane pressure of refining a "niche" or of goals that stop me in my tracks before I even begin....

Let's lead a revolution in taking back creative power.  Taking back our time lost, and bringing back the complete and utter excited satisfaction of taking a gorgeous image, baking the perfect rustic tart, sending a letter in the mail, planting an herb garden, vintage photography prop hunting, or making an authentic bearnaise or hollandaise sauce by taking time....a long time...intentionally and deliberately...

And capturing the stories and images of all of these experiences....on our blogs...in our own way....in our own time....

We got this!

Lesson Learned.

Magazines and Cookbooks

I love magazines.

 I am more apt to read a magazine rather than a book.  The advertising, the images, the short sweet articles....just love them.  I read a wide variety of magazines from design and cooking to lifestyle and creative.  Since I enjoy browsing the magazine racks when I am out and about, I rarely subscribe to them simply because buying off the rack is instant gratification.  I make sure it is taken safely home - no crinkled or bent pages and will set aside time to page through the issue without distractions.

I love cookbooks.

My love of cookbooks is kind of ironic in that I do not get overly excited about cooking.  I play around with baking recipes periodically and find that enjoyable.  For full-on entree type recipes, I back away and try to recreate the dishes I remember growing up using tried and true recipes.  The cookbook love comes from the gorgeous photography that is found in so many new cookbooks lately that I just can't help myself.  I think cookbooks of the last 5 years certainly speak to "eating with our eyes"!!

So, I got to thinking and reviewing my posts since the "Golden Delicious Epiphany" experience to the present with my photography posts.  I noticed a trend....maybe subconsciously I was trying to live out a dream or goal....allow me to explain....

My images as of late have a lot of "negative space".  I like to think of negative space as the empty area either above or around my subject matter in my images.  My head and heart work closely together when I am taking pictures and I believe I was not only pretending but also preparing to keep striving towards a dream....having my work published in a magazine or cookbook.  If you look through any magazine pay special attention to the full page ads.  Take the typography completely off that page and look at the subject in the image.  I bet you would think that image on it's own without type was OK or maybe MEH....BUT, in order to achieve success with the ad, the brand needs both a gorgeous image AND great verbiage.  Neither should get "lost" in the ad or feel crowded, hard to read or confusing...they simply work together beautifully. 

So with that, I am going to go out on a limb and share something completely different.  It is my hope this will better explain my technique and dream.  

I was working with radishes, garlic, and a red bell pepper today in my photoshoot time.  I did not have a concrete plan but was excited about using different colors and textures.  

This in one of the first images I had taken....  

Notice the negative space at the top?  So did I when I began my post-processing!  But this time, rather than leave the image as is, I decided to make this a "cover"....just some simple type to see if this image could actually contain a title...

Farm To Table Radish.jpg

It looked like it could be a title page for an article perhaps or maybe a magazine cover or...or...I was getting excited and felt I was on to something!  

Forward I went...

Other than I was quite pleased with this image, I imagined it would be the photo for a gardening or cooking article...perhaps an article on the history of this vegetable....

The radishes are an extremely simple example with just a basic title so I wanted to go deeper and started with this....

Maybe this could be used in a cooking magazine article on the "basics" of cooking techniques....

I was having a blast with this although it was apparent that I am not a typographer, I tried again...

or this....

and one more to round it out....

There they are...

my dreams....my goals....my "putting it out there"....

I have this passion, a drive if you will, to keep growing my photography skills and believe all of us should "put it out there".  The competition in the field of photography is super stiff in today's age but who knows...no one will see what you don't share...and no one will be captured by your passion, style, and drive unless you give them a chance see your work!!


....So here I am...knocking LOUDLY on the door to Internetville...and when the door is answered, I will be standing there with a huge smile on face, hand extended, and sharing my love of photography and the many ways I could contribute to a brand's product, magazine's article, or a chef's new cookbook....

Yes, my name is Joan and I am "putting my CREATIVITY AND PASSION out there"!


Have a wonderful week my friends and we will visit again soon!


Blueberries and Composition

One of the many areas of photography that has a fun learning curve is the study of composition.  Along with the technical aspects of working in manual mode on the camera, it is equally important to learn placement, angles, and catching light and shadows to enhance your subject.  

I have found that I particularly enjoy working with one focus subject and few props.  Keeping the scene minimal yet stunning can be daunting due to the strong focus on one area.  In order to achieve a nice composition, the most reliable method is working with the Rule of Thirds for placement.  There are cases when this rule can be broken so the best way to learn, I feel, is start simple and shoot from many angles.  

Using my Canon 70D DSLR and a 50mm 1.8 lens, I selected a nice package of blueberries to play with.  Not only do I love their color but the "buttons" created from their stems provide a wonderful texture to the smooth indigo surfaces.

I decided to revamp my small still life studio set up to give me a bit more room as well as opportunity to find new angles.  Using the two soft box lights and my favorite backdrop (freezer paper), I also added a unique four foot piece of countertop which has a great resemblance of zinc or grey weathered wood!   

To change things up a bit with the scene, I decided to use an awesome old wood box I found on a recent junk shopping trip.  This box has wonderful old wood and the tiniest dovetail joints along all sides.  As I worked with this wood box for the first time, I quickly realized the variety of surface potential...


Do you notice how the light and shadows change with the difference in angles?  Also, since my set up currently uses two soft box lights, I love to switch them on and off singly and together to "grab" the scene with shadows and highlights.

What better to add to a scene of blueberries than a blueberry muffin....no, I did not bake today...I have the convenience store to thank for this muffin addition!


For the last few shots, I wanted to add something a bit more formal to the blueberries...


I would love to hear your suggestions on learning composition with still life shooting!  Perhaps you have a tried and true flat-lay technique or a special way of arranging your props to really tell your photo story?  Please share below in the comments and I will look so forward to hearing from you!

I wish for you a beautiful week with many happy moments.


Zinc Chair and a Moose Horn Debacle

What a day....that's the best way to describe my "day in the studio".  

In my last post found HERE, I shared my planning, prep, and shoot process for bringing a vision to life with my camera.  It's a good plan and process, one I will adhere to despite today's activities (ugh)

Let me just say I had the BEST, no...the PERFECT vision for the moose horns.  I had everything all set when I quickly realized these things are heavy.  Not only are they heavy but extremely clumsy to handle by yourself.  I wrestled with the damn horns for about 45 minutes until I tapped out.  They wouldn't sit on my base as I wanted them to, they wouldn't hang nicely without looking ridiculous.  They mocked me...oh how they mocked me.  No sense forcing a square peg idea into a round hole vision.

At this point I went into "off the charts" idea mode.  I started veering away from my lists and plans and worked feverishly to come up with a new vision....BIG MISTAKE.....

Everything was tipping over....falling apart....or just looked amazingly awful.  It was one of those days that the harder I tried, the worse it became.  I had to make a choice and make a choice fast....keep marching on or call it a day.

I chose to keep marching on and took a little break to figure out what was going wrong...why did everything feel "off"....what was missing....why was I such a hot mess?????????

It hit me....I was working on a vision that was so outside of my comfort zone.  I remembered that with the Golden Delicious Epiphany and Gorgeous Bosc Pear shoots that I never felt closer to "my style" than I did with those two.  Why then did I feel a need to dive back into an area that didn't fully make sense to me...Why?

Good Question.....easy answer....

My answer came via my Zinc Chair (a DIY project from several years ago), three sap buckets, and a few maple tree branches.  Simple, straightforward, and yet hopefully stunning.   They all came together smooth as silk and it "felt right".

Nothing grand and over the top.  Not frilly and crowded.  Nothing complicated.

A big part of learning photography is sharing and that includes the ups and the downs.  Today started as a massive DOWN but managed to right itself.  I just let myself learn the hard way.

So without further adieu,

I bring you my Zinc Chairs and Sap Buckets.....


It's Sunday night and I am beat.  It has been a day.


Tomorrow is Monday and I will start all over again...(huge smile)

I hope your week is amazing!





My Photography - WHY and HOW

Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
— Don McCullin

I LOVE this quote and so many others sprinkled throughout this post...

As I was putting some final notes on my idea and plan list for an upcoming photoshoot this weekend, I thought it might be interesting to share with you my process.   How I find my initial inspiration, how the "scene" evolves, and the organic path the process takes to the finish line.  I thrive in this creative outlet.  I love design/style coffee table books and drool over magazines.  The pictures with their styling are so intriguing to me and I, for one, "FEEL" those images which makes them so meaningful to me.  My photography provides me an opportunity to create something on my own that I can picture in a book or magazine...a HUGE goal

Since I work a full-time day job, I find that during the evening is my dreaming and planning time.  Once my work day is done, I completely detach from that role and grab one of many countless notebooks and begin writing down every idea I have.  These notes are random, sometimes erased, and ever-changing.


I love to wander through Pinterest with a variety of subject searches and have gotten quite enamored with Instagram.  I makes notes of images that captured my attention and why.  This becomes very important when I find a subject or theme from my stash that I want to use.  I never try to duplicate another artist's image but rather study the composition, lighting, and colors.

I love color but typically in muted tones.  This time of the year, before everything starts to green up is very intriguing to me.  Grasses and fields along the drive to and from work have such incredible shades of grey, brown, taupe, and cream colors.  Every now and then this view is punctuated by a gorgeous rich caramel tone or even a dusty wintered sage hue that pops life into the scene.  These visions help drive the color palette I decide to incorporate into the photoshoot.

For example, last Sunday I was sifting through my vintage pieces in the studio and was searching for a unique piece to use.  Hoping the weather this weekend is as nice as they are predicting, it is was my goal to get back into the big studio area and shoot some larger pieces.  As I searched through the stash, I recalled a set of moose horns that Mike was given years ago that have hung out in the garage for as long as I can remember....this started a tsunami of note-taking!

Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
— Marc Riboud

The moose horns have so many shades of tans and grey and make the perfect prop.  Once I have a subject piece, the focus becomes the styling.  What my brain quickly realizes is that most horn mounts are hung on a wall so I must find a different way to shoot them.  They are quite beautiful and need a stage of sorts to show them off.  What type of stage would make sense and yet be unexpected??....the thinking continues....

I have found that when I remove limitations and "in the box" thinking from my standard thought process it helps come up with a unique idea.  When undertaking anything creative, I have always leaned toward the "if everyone is going to the right...what's to the left?"  

Only photograph what you love.”
— Tim Walker


Once I thought of the perfect moose horn "stage", my brain went into warp speed and the ideas shot out and onto paper so quickly that my hand could hardly keep up.  This is where the initial idea becomes a sea of future ideas so it is important that no matter how off the wall they may be, they are documented.

Throughout the week I sketch, plan, erase, and add to the vision.  Usually by Friday I have a pretty clear idea of how I want to set up the scene, the mood I want to capture, and a pretty good idea of the outcome I am "shooting" for.

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
— Ansel Adams

I start making lists....lists and lists and lists.  Things I may need to purchase, borrow, or create.  Realizing, after much experimentation, that I am happiest shooting a more minimalist type of scene, I try to keep the items list short.  I make lists of vision words I want to portray such as rustic, clean, modern, or soft, etc.  These lists help keep me on track and focused for the final outcome I am striving to achieve.


My first steps in the studio include completely clearing and cleaning the space I want to use.  I open all the doors and windows, crank the stereo, and grab the coffee.  From past experience in this awesome studio space, I have found the most perfect light happens early afternoon so this leaves the morning to prep and create any special props I want to use.  Working in the bigger studio space requires more prep than the smaller family room set up so I like to take my time to ensure the foundation of the shoot is ideal.  I organize my props and plan out the styling to incorporate as many ideas as I can possibly fit in.

I review the wall/floor space I have chosen to use to make sure it fits the scale of the props.  This is also the perfect time to fill any nail holes from previous shoots!  Scope out any outlets in the wall that may get in the image and plan prop placement around those.  I love the white walls with the concrete floor in the studio as they make the perfect backdrop for any idea.  Finally, I will make sure I have all of my camera gear out, battery charged, and lenses ready to go.   

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
— Elliott Erwitt

As I look back through my blog over the past year and the images in previous posts, the business plans, and idea sharing, the one huge thing that stands out the most to me is how my photography has evolved.  It appears that since the start of 2017, I feel I have found the start of my style, my niche, my passion.  My image intentions are more solid, my planning focus is sharper, and I am happier than ever when exporting the images from my camera to the computer.


My ideas for the shoot include many "scenes" and some more involved than others.  I have learned that to make the best use of time and ensure I capture everything I hope, I start the placement with the simplest pieces and begin shooting.  It is at this time I try all types of angles, focus points, and lighting checks.  Do I like the shadows?  Is something covered up or placed crazy?  Is that a pen in the background?  Damn, there is that outlet peeking out in that shot!  Yes, being a one person cleaner, organizer, stylist, and photographer leaves ample opportunity to accidentally leave something behind in the scene!  

As I continue rearranging and moving/removing my props, I am thinking about the technical pieces as well.  Is my exposure where I want it for the style I refine in post-processing?  Do I need to add extra lighting to create more depth?  How much, if any, Bokeh do I want with this angle - is my aperture set where I want it?  For variety I will move my aperture based on how close I am to the scene and props to best capture the focus area for the shot.

A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”
— Edward Steichen

My camera, a Canon 70D, is a dream to work with.  It loves the 50mm 1.8 lens and seems to read my mind when I move around for another angle.  I received this camera as an unexpected Christmas surprise upgrade from my Canon Rebel T3 and let me be the first to tell you, don't fall prey to the "full frame or forget it" notion.  I grew so weary of reading that unless you had a full frame camera you are not creating quality images, not reaching your full potential, not taking full advantage of your lenses, etc. etc. etc......  Use, enjoy, and love what you have - I DO!

(rant ended - sigh)  

Quickly, lets talk about lenses as this ties into another photoshoot idea that I have.  I love my kit lens and am planning images to share just how awesome this little workhorse can be - stay tuned!  For the most part, I use my Canon 50mm 1.8 prime lens (less than $130) and not only love the close-ups but the distance shots as well.  Yes...EVEN on my cropped sensor camera!  I have used both lenses enough to know that for my purposes, they are perfect.

Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.”
— Yousuf Karsh

I should also share that throughout the shooting session, I rarely use a tripod.  I have used a tripod in the past and felt a little restricted.  About two months ago, I was getting irritated by this lack of flexibility and simply took the camera off of the tripod to see what would happen.  I learned how to position myself to prevent shaking/blur, how to properly focus and squeeze the shutter (softly and slowly), and was delighted with the outcome.  I had achieved so many "new to me" angles and freedom with this technique.  Of course, due to lighting and shutter speed, there will be a time when I put the camera back on the tripod, but for now I am enjoying the looseness of the photo capture process.

To wrap up, it is Friday afternoon and I am preparing to dive back into the creative photography world that I love.  The moose horns are ready, the "stage" pieces are prepped, the weekend plan has been discussed, the "extras" will be designed and created, the camera battery is charging and I am soooooooooo READY!!

I hope this quick insider view of my process is helpful to you and your process.  If there is just one small takeaway you find, I am thrilled.  If you have a question, I would be delighted to try to answer it.  I am going to finish up the day with my sights set on the weekend and will look so forward to sharing the outcome of the moose horns with you...and flowers, and a unique piece of rusty wall art, and winter grasses, and worn wood and old boots and...and.....STAY TUNED!!

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”
— Imogen Cunningham



The Gorgeous Bosc Pear

As I continue to wait for the weather to cooperate allowing me to create in my larger studio, time spent with my homemade setup in the family room has proven to be quite effective!  

It is a very simple arrangement consisting of two larger softbox lights, a small table, a roll of freezer paper, and various props.  I experiment with light coming from both sides and then adjusting one or the other off.  

The models chosen for today took a bit of hunting.  I wanted to find the perfect Bosc pears and locating those that still had a pretty stem and didn't look as if they had been drug behind a car took some time.  I probably looked very odd going through every pear, balancing it on the display to make sure it could stand on its own decently and checking for dings and dents, but I just smiled at the onlookers and waited for someone to be brave enough to ask me if needed help or possibly medication...

No one did so I continued on with the search and found three that fit the bill....

Having had such a fulfilling experience with the Golden Delicious Epiphany, the Bosc pear was ideal for my next vision.  The rough shape, the strong stems, and the color....the awesome color....perfect in every respect.

The process of determining the perfect props for the shots is very fluid and organic.  I gather up some of my favorites and just start placing them in the scene.  I do not get overly busy or frilly with props as I want the subject to be the star of the show.  To me the simplicity of the shot is timeless and with each image, I can envision a cookbook ingredient shot with room for text, a double page spread in a magazine as a soft background, or as a print hung in the home.

I will let you decide what you see in the images and how they make you feel.  Do they stir up family memories?  Do they remind your of a favorite recipe?  Maybe, if you are like me, you simply like the visual art aspects and try to imagine them on the walls or in a book?

Enjoy the finished products of today's shoot....


This was just a small sampling of the photos I took today and I would love to hear your thoughts....if these images spoke to you, tell me how....that is the beauty of creativity, we all see and hear something differently but so important and meaningful all the same.



Capturing White Roses

White roses.....simply heavenly...

....perfect petals in all shades of white....

...strong stems sans thorns to support the beautiful crowns....

....elegant comfort settled in a pile....

...gently leaning into the light...

...perfect simplicity...

...layers of petals waiting to unfurl...

....one of my favorites....

...patiently waiting for brown paper and string...

...equally elegant in painted peat pots...

...unafraid of rusted steel...

...happiest when cuddled close....

...moody and refined....

....pausing for the creative's hand...

...modern farmhouse style...

...like three sisters (thanks Mom!)...

...capturing white roses....



A Golden Delicious Epiphany

One huge step closer....one grand leap to realization...one photo shoot with three Golden Delicious apples and a sudden epiphany.

As I study various aspects of photography, there is one area that has eluded me.  That area is "developing a personal style".  I find that after following so many incredible still life photography artists that nine times out of ten, I can tell who it was that took the image.  Whether it is the setting, the props, the tones, or the lighting, I usually know who took the photo by their unique "style".

That is what I have been working towards within my creative self for a long long time.  The goal of sharing images with the hope that the viewer will say "there is Joan's work" or "Joan took that one".   You recognize the composition and colors.  You recognize the props and lighting.  You know it's me and my work.   

I often revisit images I have taken over the last several years and although I am most times pleased to see them over and over, there was always a nagging feeling that I hadn't quite discovered "my style".  

Until today....

I found three Golden Delicious apples at the grocery store Saturday morning and was immediately drawn to them.  No red apples, no bright oranges, or deeply toned blueberries were able to grab my attention.

Just three pale yellow apples with speckles on their peel.  

I experimented with backgrounds, composition, and lighting.  It wasn't until I reviewed and tweaked the images in Lightroom that the epiphany hit me....

Low saturated colors.....slightly above tabletop angles....close without being a macro shot...clean backgrounds and simple styling.

Once I had the first image edited, the rest just flowed on the screen.  The style was the same, the tones were the same, the look and feel were EXACTLY what I loved and wanted them to be when shared.

So many professional photographers talk about developing their personal style and how it did not come overnight.  Their styles were discovered through countless photo shoots, determining likes and dislikes, and trial/error.  How I envied those that had reached the point where "they knew" their style so I carried on with the hope that one day it would happen to me too.....

I experimented with small scale props, large sets, and diy projects.  Food photography with recipes along with business development projects for "The Blue Cupboard".  I did not limit myself nor did I venture into photographic specialties and just were not me.  I practiced, practiced, and practiced until I was beginning to think I was running out of ideas....

Today was the day for everything to align and move forward.  Today I found "me" in my photography...

No words to describe how natural the process with the apples felt.  No phenomenal revelation in technical skills, just me and my camera and three apples.

My style....

Simplicity, focused, muted soft colors, vintage attributes, and comfortable angles.


I am excited to continue to refine my style.  To affirm and practice my style.  To share my style that makes me smile inside and out.

There was one other purchase made at the store that day and when you find a dozen white roses for $5.99, they must come home with you as well!!!

Here is a quick preview of my next post with these roses and the continuation of my "style" process.....


If you are searching for your "photographic style", trust me, with practice and determination it will hit you and when it does, there will be no doubt in your mind that it is yours and you will smile inside and out too.

Share your thoughts or photography story in the comments below and thank you for spending this bit of your time with me.


How I use "Light" in a Photo Shoot

The weather in western Wisconsin was absolutely GORGEOUS today, albeit a bit windy.  With this wonderful weather came an abundance of sunshine.  In most respects, I welcome indirect sunlight as a light source when planning a photo shoot so with a bunch of garden carrots, I began...

The sunlight in the dining room is very bright for most of the day so this results in strategically moving my table to prevent excessive hotspots and glare.  

Even with a sheet or sheer curtain hung on the patio door, it still manages to sneak in exactly where I am trying to tone it down.

This typically results in a darker image that needs some Lightroom assistance.  You can see the window reflections in the jar below and this just adds to the intense sunlight behind me through the patio door...

As the sun moved higher in the sky, I found that I was constantly rearranging and moving the set-ups which was taking up more time than I had hoped.  When I simply could not control the situation any longer, I took one last shot in this room...

I still had more ideas and a nice little bunch of baby's breath that I wanted to play with so I went to my favorite spot, downstairs in the family room, with my soft box lights.

This spot has the most simple set-up and rather than try to describe it, I took a photo of the area to give you a better idea...

Yes, that is a cardboard box with the sides and top cut out.  I have found that there is no need to add tissue or sheers to the sides as each of the side lights take care of that for me.  I have played with different size soft box bulbs, stand placement, etc. and have found this to be the the most effective for the result I typically go after.  The wall behind the table has a small ledge that is perfect for my paper roll that is threaded through the box and clipped at the front.   I used the box as I like to have a "frame" in case I get the urge the hang something from fishing line (flowers) or for draping fabric. 

When it came to paper for the background, I knew I wanted white, had limited room for a roll, and had to have an easy way to clean up in between shoots.

My solution?  

Freezer Wrap!

What I love about freezer wrap is the size of roll, cost effectiveness, and the bonus of a matte plus a shiny side.  There are so many paper roll options to choose from but I have found this to work the best for my needs.  The roll sits in it's box, behind the cardboard box on the ledge and when I need a clean surface, I simply pull down and cut away.  No paper roll stand needed!

Now that I didn't have to monkey around with too much brightness as I was doing upstairs, I grabbed the baby's breath, a few vintage containers, and started snapping away.

For the first round I draped a piece of cotton fabric in the box just to try something other than white for the background...


And next, I decided to go dark with a piece of denim for background...again, just draped inside the frame of the box, right over the freezer paper....


In between swapping out backgrounds, I took a few on white (my favorite background) before wrapping up...


As a final creative surge, I snipped some curly winter bittersweet vine from the deck and tied it up with grey and white grosgrain ribbon...I am in awe how these vines manage to wrap around everything in their paths, including each other...I love the curly, wrapped up way they grow.

Sometimes I just have to find more than one "light" way to get the ideas out of my head and through my camera!

Have a wonderful week!