Project 52

Assignment 23 - 2016: A Year of Change

With the ushering in of every New Year, there are an abundance of predictions in the media on what will happen and what will change.  This week's Project 52 assignment was to create the art to accompany a story entitled "2016: A Year of Change.”  My initial reaction was to figure out a way to get a Donald Trump portrait (do not interpret this in any way to mean that I support him or his views...I was just looking for a photo op).  Just for fun, I looked up his travel schedule and it didn't cross paths with mine - thereby saving myself the effort of a futile attempt.  

Back to the drawing board.  Around the world, shortages are being predicted across many crops due to drought or flooding caused by global warming and El Nino.  There is also the steady decline in the global honey bee population over the past half century, which is affecting food supplies due to there being fewer bees available to pollinate crops.  Depending on which articles you read and what part of the world is being discussed, there are predictions for shortages in rice, grain, soybeans, coffee, cocoa, almonds, and sugar.  I thought I would try to illustrate an article on the effects of the declining bee population and what "mom and pop" beekeepers are doing to change the decline.  I did some research on beekeepers, and there was one about 20 minutes from my house.  I reached out and he willingly agreed to be photographed.  I learned a few facts about bees from our initial conversation, one of which is that bees don't come out of the hive if it is less than 50°F.  The beekeeper was willing to pose by his hives, regardless of temperature, but the chance to see bees might be limited.  

On the day of the shoot, the temperature was quite moderate, but it was pouring rain.  The weather wasn't really conducive to an outdoor shoot.  I spoke with the beekeeper and lacking an indoor location that would give the proper context - I didn't think shooting a beekeeper on a plain black background made sense - we decided to postpone until the spring or early summer.  WIth only a day left to shoot, I determined that a food shot made the most sense; it wasn't weather dependent and it was entirely within my control.  I also want to shoot more food and product images in 2016, so this could be a personal angle on the "a year of change" title.

I did some research into recipes which would use multiple of the ingredients on the food shortage lists, and stumbled upon a recipe for cocoa dusted almonds.  My mother-in-law is a huge fan of cocoa dusted almonds from Harrods in the UK.  Sad to say, they were already expensive, but the price is going to skyrocket if these ingredients truly are in short-supply.  I figured I'd give the recipe a try so we could make our own at home.  The prep was easy and the cook time was less than 15 minutes, so it was something I could quickly whip together for a photoshoot.

After a quick trip to the store to buy the three ingredients: almonds, cocoa and sugar, I came home and set up the studio.  I styled the raw ingredients on a tile and took some test shots.  When I was happy with the lighting, I whipped up the cocoa dusted almonds (link to recipe below) and added them to the set.  I took some shots on an angle and then took some overhead shots too.  I'd be curious which you like best.  I was torn between the pair of images below, but in the end I submitted image #1.  The more I look at them, I think I like #2 better!  Any preferences from the readers?

Image 1, shot from an angle

Image 1, shot from an angle

Image 2, shot from above

Image 2, shot from above

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Next week is a free shoot.  We can re-shoot an old assignment or create something new which will fit into our portfolio.  I have a few thoughts for some portraits and for some product shots, but since I went through multiple iterations of plans this week, I'm not making any predictions!  

Here is a link to the recipe from Amy's Healthy Baking:  http://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2014/12/22/cocoa-roasted-almonds/.

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