End of summer print promo

I wanted to work with my friend Alix and her partner Ali, who recently moved from New York City to Sonoma County. Ali, a seasoned chef and Alix, a brand and marketing expert, craft unique experiences in Northern California focused flour, water and wine. I had the pleasure to shoot their brand photos over two days in Sebastopol and Bodega Bay.

I wanted this promo to stand out and really connect with the art producers, photo editors and creative directors. So many times, print promos can actually be throw aways. To a select group, I sent the private label olive oil with my branding, a print booklet and also a hand written note. I think it’s important to connect on a personal level with each person you send to. Here is a glimpse of what I sent.

Booklet: Printed by Mixam,Designed by Melissa Faustine Chang.
Packing tape: Sticker Mule, Designed by Atelier Cho Thompson.
Branded card and label: Echelon, Designed by Atelier Cho Thompson.

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Gentl and Hyers Workshop in Lummi Island

Last weekend, I had the privilege to attend a travel and food photography workshop led by Gentl and Hyers in partnership with Marine Area 7 owner Jim Henkens, food blogger Aran Goyoaga, and Deborah Williamson of James Restaurant. Just a small group of attendees with all backgrounds came together on Lummi Island, just off the coast from Bellingham, WA to shoot, learn, make new friends, and create.

We were so lucky to arrive when the smoke from the Canadian fires cleared for our weekend. Our time started at Nettles Farm, a short drive from Jim's house where most of the workshop took place. Riley, the owner of Nettles Farm, allowed us to photograph him and his farm. Each morning, we also got to pick our own produce and eggs grown on the farm. His chickens are fed with high quality feed and you can definitely taste it in the eggs!

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The hosts foraged some various herbs, hops and tomatoes for us to use to cook and also photograph.

The hosts foraged some various herbs, hops and tomatoes for us to use to cook and also photograph.

Wild blackberries were in season!

Wild blackberries were in season!

Marty (Hyers) led us on a walk around the island after a morning inside the house. It was so great to learn about their approach on a travel story. Andrea and Marty shared so many great behind the scenes stories about their experience shooting on location in addition to client work in studio.

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These beautiful tomatoes were freshly picked from Nettles Farm and we got to enjoy them that night during our beach dinners. Aran and Deborah prepared such beautiful and delicious dishes! Jim bought salmon freshly caught that day off a boat nearby his beach. He also caught and steamed the crab for our dinner. Every part of the fish was used, whether it was smoked or used for stock for the next day's soup.

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Jim collects and sells beautiful dishes and other home items that he travels the world to find. We got to use these items in a styling exercise of various items we either foraged or caught that day.

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I have been wanting to attend a workshop led by Gentl and Hyers for years. I am so fortunate I was able to attend. It was such a great trip to learn from veterans in the food and travel photographer industry. I left the workshop with my heart and belly full! Keep being curious and collaborate!

From Modena to Venice (Italy - Part 4)

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Modena, Italy

Our month long trip was reaching our final week in Italy. After our time in Tuscany, we spent our last days with our Skoda rental car driving up to Modena which is in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. We were fortunate enough to enjoy an amazing 12 course tasting menu at the amazing Osteria Francescana led by the great Chef Massimo Bottura, which was voted world's best restaurant in 2016 and is a three star Michelin restaurant. When I first watched the first season and episode of Netflix's Chef's Table, I was blown away by the cinematography and story telling of this docuseries. I was so drawn by Chef Massimo's story and especially his wife as his business partner who influenced and inspired him to push the artistic and traditional norms of Italian cuisine.

We only spent one night in Modena and greatly enjoyed exploring the Mercato Albinelli where fruit, cheese, meat, seafood and also food vendors sold such delicious items. It's definitely worth walking through the market to people watch or to buy items to cook a meal.

Insalata di Mare

Insalata di Mare

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Chocolate with Cherry Ganache

Chocolate with Cherry Ganache

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The crunchy part of lasagne

The crunchy part of lasagne

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Venezia (Venice)

Having spent most of our time in the countryside or smaller towns, Venice was bustling full of tourists. I had come to Venice years ago with my family where we visited every museum and landmark. This time around, we tried to make our experience something unique. A family friend who was born and raised in Venice, offered us his apartment which was located in Canareggio, which is located on the north side of Venice. The neighborhood was still full of locals, but close by the major streets where tourists explored. A few mornings, we woke up prior to sunrise to go explore some landmarks before the crowds got crazy. I would highly suggest this if you are an early bird. We walked through the city where you took in the sites and architecture of the buildings with such ease! Also, as a photographer, the light was just amazing. 

Another great early morning activity is the fish market, which is located close to the Rialto Bridge. Many vendors sell freshly caught seafood at this market. We bought some gambaretti rossi (red shrimp) and cozze di mare (mussels). It's always helpful to learn some key words in Italian especially when your at the market and also understanding kilos and grams.

We really enjoyed a pre dinner wine and cichetti (small tapas-like bites) along a quiet canal-side wine bar called Vino VeroAlso, a great lunch spot is Osteria La Zucca which has some delicious vegetarian dishes. I would recommend a reservation since they fill up!

Gondolas on Grand Canal - Venice
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La Zucca  for lunch

La Zucca for lunch

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View from Rialto Bridge

View from Rialto Bridge

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Burano Island

Burano is about an hour vapretto (water bus) ride from Fondamente Nove which is located on the north side of Venice. Known for its brightly colored fishermen's houses and its casual eateries serving seafood from the lagoon, Burano is also a quaint and quieter place to explore. We enjoyed a meal at the small restaurant called Al Fureghin, where we were welcomed by the owner MicheleYou must try the seafood dishes!

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Burano
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Sunrise view from Ponte dell'Academia

Sunrise view from Ponte dell'Academia

Tuscany (Italy - Part 2 of 4)

Most tourists are very familiar with the beautiful area known as Tuscany. It's known for the capital, Florence, the rolling green hills of the wine country and olive groves. Having been to Florence and the famous tourist sites in previous years, we decided to spend more time exploring the countryside and the wineries especially in the Brunello wine country. 

Florence
Known for it's renaissance art and architecture, Florence is full of beautiful museums and churches that highlight a lot of the great artists like Michelangelo and Botticelli. We were able to walk around the streets, eat lampredotto (Florentine street food tripe sandwich), and enjoy busy tourist town even in early September. I highly suggest going to Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset where you can see a beautiful view of the city as seen below. I'd recommend taking the bus since it is a pretty steep climb up.

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Ditta Artiginale

Ditta Artiginale

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Ditta Artiginale  - view from 2nd floor

Ditta Artiginale - view from 2nd floor

Our Airbnb at Casa Podere la Casina - Rigomagno

Our Airbnb at Casa Podere la Casina - Rigomagno

Piazza del Campo - Siena

Piazza del Campo - Siena

Duomo - Siena

Duomo - Siena

Montepulciano
Montepulciano was just a 30 minute drive from our Airbnb. It was a great short day trip to see the medieval and renaissance town that sits on a high hill. Most of these Italian hill cities are very walkable and allow limited car traffic. We really enjoyed going to the different cantinas where we were able to taste some delicious vino nobile. We enjoyed a casual lunch at La casa di Edel - da Baffo where you could enjoy a simple sandwich and a glass of wine. Caffè Poliziano has a very small balcony but if you're lucky enough to score a seat, I'd highly recommend paying an extra euro for espresso to enjoy the view.

Piazza Grande

Piazza Grande

View from balcony at  Caffè Poliziano

View from balcony at Caffè Poliziano

Caffe Poliziano
View from balcony at  Caffè Poliziano

View from balcony at Caffè Poliziano

Montepulciano
Piadine

Piadine

Montalcino
Known for their Brunello wines, Montalcino is another beautiful area with some delicious wines. We had the pleasure of visiting Sesta Di Sopra where we were greeted by winemaker Ettora and his wife Enrica. We go to sit down in their dining room where Ettora poured us his delicious wines with some different crackers and also some dark chocolates. He later showed us around his cellar and shared more about his process. It was such a lovely afternoon where we enjoyed a private tour and informative tasting. We also got to visit Poggio Antico a slightly more commercial vineyard (recently famous for the wine that Obama gifted to John Boehner). 

Sesta Di Sopra - Montalcino
Sesta Di Sopra - Montalcino
Sesta Di Sopra - Montalcino
Sesta Di Sopra - Montalcino
Sesta Di Sopra
Poggio Antico - Montalcino
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Poggio Antico - Montalcino
Harvest time 

Harvest time 

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Biggest fig tree fresh for harvest

Biggest fig tree fresh for harvest

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Love x Food Cooking Class
Just outside Florence, we had such a lovely class with our instructors Luca and  Lorenzo. Passed down from their families', we learned how to make ravioli with ricotta and lemon zest, tiramisu (tuscan style), and various types of pasta. Being a handmade pasta newbie, Luca and Lorenzo were very patient and explained the fundamentals of pasta making. We all rolled our own pasta dough, folded ravioli and made spaghetti a la guittara. During our breaks, wine was plentiful and so were the fresh antipasti at the family table outside overlooking the countryside.

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La Marzocco Factory
For anybody that works in the coffee industry or is an espresso drinker, taking a tour of La Marzocco factory just outside of Florence is a must. We were so warmly welcomed by Sylvia who spent a couple hours with us talking about the history of La Marzocco and showed us every step of the process of how they create their espresso machines. She spoke so passionately and proudly about the craftsmanship that goes into every part and piece of their machines. After seeing the factory, I'm personally excited to have a La Marzocco Linea Mini machine in my house in the near future.

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