A day at the Benzigers

Going on location is one of my favorite things to do. I have to move fast, be spontaneous, and come up with solutions for lighting. It's especially fun when models are involved. Most of the time my wine clients like to use non-professional models, so this keeps me on my toes. I have to direct them and usually loosen them up so they look natural and not too posed.

Here are some shots from a  recent shoot day at Benziger Family Winery. 

Benziger Family

It started in the morning with a group family shot. The Benziger's are a close family with multiple generations in their business. I liked the flowers surrounding the area and we brought a picnic table in for people to stand on. Being business folks they lined up fast and we had this shot finished within 15 minutes of them all arriving.  Once the family shot was in the can, I toured the property, grabbing some scenic vineyards and scouting locations for our models. The aim was a lifestyle shoot for their web pages.

Nestled in Sonoma Valley above Glen Ellen, Benziger vines are biodynamically farmed and range over numerous hilltops creating stunning views.

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Our models headed into the vineyards and started having fun pretending to be tourists. It's not hard to look like you are enjoying yourself when you have great wines and friends to chat with. I got out my 70-210 mm lens and had them move throughout the vines talking and gesturing.

models in vines

As the day progressed we wandered the property with the models, telling the story. Beautiful vineyards, great wines, fabulous gardens, and specialty tasting rooms. For most of these images, my assistant trained a shiny board to fill in the shadows. I expose for the shadows, which tends to overexpose a bit, so I correct the highlights while I'm editing. I always use a polarizing lens when I'm outdoors and backlight my subjects to make the background pop.

And finally we headed into the brand new Pinot Tasting library, added a few strobes and set the scene for a private tasting.

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Many years ago the Benziger's started producing Signaterra and Coelo Pinot Noir's from the Sonoma Coast and have dedicated a tasting area to the pinot experience.

Coehlo Pinot Noirs

It was a long and hectic day, but we accomplished what we set out to do and have a great time! My favorite kind of day.

There's a new grill in town

Flipside Steakhouse and Sports Bar contacted me for some food shots for 7x7 magazine.

King cut prime rib is juicy and succulent with all fully loaded baked potato, creamy horseradish and au jus.

King cut prime rib is juicy and succulent with all fully loaded baked potato, creamy horseradish and au jus.

The magazine specified they wanted birds-eye view images of the dishes, so I shot them from above, but a few looked better from the side, so I shot them both ways.

Herb roasted beets with frisée, goat cheese and candied walnuts.

Herb roasted beets with frisée, goat cheese and candied walnuts.

Less is more with food styling. A simple dribbled garnish and a light sprinkling of ground red pepper is all that's needed to adorn this dish of roasted peppers.

Padron my peppers with bacon and aioli

Padron my peppers with bacon and aioli

I like to get in tight with a slightly lower angle to emphasize the texture of the food.

Crab cake with meter lemon aioli.

Crab cake with meter lemon aioli.

Larger than life-size

I love it when clients use my photos in trade booths and blow them up big! Capabunga has been touring the country with photos we have taken for them.

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Here's the original shot before the designer, Brandt Hoekenga of Create-tiv, added it to the trade booth graphics. Shooting in Camera Raw provides enough information to blow up photos hundredfold.

Here's the original shot before the designer, Brandt Hoekenga of Create-tiv, added it to the trade booth graphics. Shooting in Camera Raw provides enough information to blow up photos hundredfold.

Whiskey Sister

She headed east towards Nashville in a beat-up old car with fifty dollars in her pocket and a six-string guitar on the back seat. Just in case, she’d tucked the recipe for Nana’s bourbon whiskey into her left boot. Nana said, “If people can’t appreciate the sweetest sister you ever met, well, there isn’t too much you can do with people like that.” And Nana was always right.

The latest beverage addition to the wine sisterhood. Photographed in my studio with a dragged shutter and my husband's guitar.

The latest beverage addition to the wine sisterhood. Photographed in my studio with a dragged shutter and my husband's guitar.

See, Swirl, Smell, Sip. Sbrocco!

Working with a pro like Leslie Hartley-Sbrocco, @thirstygirl, makes video fun to shoot. She arrived with scripts in hand, memorized, and ideas about the shoot. My job was to find the right locations in the beautiful home provided, direct the lighting for the shots, have my assistant manage the sound recorder and then direct the scenes and shoot. They don't call her one take Leslie for nothing, but of course we took a few extra takes just to be sure.

So check out the video and watch her in action. She makes wine tasting and wine education fun. And the tie-in to Cougar Town TBS was a hoot. It's a great show which just happens to have #wine in almost every scene. Of course all of this is brought to you by my fantastic client The Wine Sisterhood. The had the courage to hire me for video as I was just making the transition and 30 videos later, we are on to something.

Just for fun, here are the rules for wine pong. Of course you'll have to adapt from the beer pong rules. Thanks to MAV and Natalie for being our wine pong players.