So, in 2008, Ontario banned the use of cosmetic pesticides, due to their calamitous effect on honeybee colonies and durable nature, as they collect in soil and do not break down. I've yet to see a report on the effect on Ontario's bee population, but I can tell you this: The dandelion must be considered the official flower of the Province by now.....
In my efforts to learn about my new home's food and restaurant scene, I undertook the arduous task of attending the Waterloo Region Food and Drink Show, put on by Grand River Shows. There were a ton of great exhibitors, including local restaurants, breweries and winemakers, as well as other businesses such as restaurant supply, caterers and food trucks, all with their wares available to be sampled.
It's a tough job but someone had to do it.
Last year I had the great pleasure to photograph a couple of restaurants in the Cleveland, OH area - BOMBA Tacos and Rum - that feature Cubano cuisine, lovely drinks, and great ambiance. The ambiance is largely thanks to my client, Richardson Design. Their work, via my photos, is featured in the recent issue of Visual Merchandising and Store Design (VMSD).
Although the F2T is a personal project, I'm happy to see some of the 'fruit' of the project be useful to a local partner. Foodlink publishes a yearly map to help consumers find great local food, and the 2017 map cover will feature one of my shots of Elmira's Own lovely tomatoes.
Nice to see work I shot as long ago as 2012 still getting featured in my client's social media and website…..
So, yesterday was my first time on a farm where they measured their greenhouse space in terms of acreage, rather than sq feet.
Elmira's Own is a year-round operation that combines very high-tech methods - color-specific LED lighting, compressed peat, CO2 emission recycled from the boiler stack - with Mennonite family tradition, to produce some of the best-looking tomatoes I've ever seen, and LOTS of them.
More to come, showing how these little jewels end up on some of the best-looking plates in the region...
Not exactly a farm, but a fitting way to start this project off.
I was pleased to attend the annual "Blessing of the Nets" service in Port Burwell last week, hosted by Martin's Fish Market and officiated by The Reverend Robert Clifford of the Trinity Anglican Church.
The Blessing marks an unofficial start to the fishing season, although some hardy souls start as soon as the water is clear enough of ice.
No matter my own religious beliefs, I found it very moving to be among a close-knit community on a FRIGID day to observe a ritual prayer for safe harbor, smooth waters and a bountiful catch, in the rich tradition of fishermen going back to the humble men who were called away from their nets to become 'fishers of men.'
According to the official Provincial web page:
Commercial fishing is part of Ontario's heritage and culture. Many towns, such as Port Dover and Port Stanley on the Canadian shores of Lake Erie, were founded because of commercial fishing activities.Today, the towns of Kingsville and Wheatley Harbour are home to some of the largest commercial freshwater fish processing centres in Canada.
Furthermore, as of 2011 (The latest Canadian census), Ontario commercial fishers
The fish might go all over the world, but IMHO the best way to enjoy it is at one of the many fish-n-chips stands or trucks that line the Lake Erie coast during the warmer months, or fresh from your own grill.
I look forward to heading out on the water soon and tracing the path of some fresh Lake Erie perch or pickerel from the net to the table. Stay tuned!
A few years ago I helped my chef friend John MacPherson develop a pilot for a TV concept - "In Season" - which featured John going out into the field to hunt, gather, and harvest fresh seasonal ingredients, and followed him back to the kitchen where he put it all together for a great meal.
The narrative arc of a chef fishing, hunting and foraging for THAT DAY'S MENU made for good TV with strong visuals and a great payoff at the end. For busy restaurateurs, of course, getting seasonal, local ingredients is more complicated, and can involve a lot of people.
I've always thought that the real story of how great local food gets from "farm-to-table" - and the people who make it happen- would make a terrific photo story, but as a lifelong suburban kid I wasn't sure where or how to start.
Now, years later, I find myself in Ontario's Waterloo Region, home to three bustling cities - Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge, and four big agricultural townships. The restaurant scene in these burgs is very robust, and 'farm-to'table' isn't just a marketing buzzword. With 1400+ farms within the Region proper, and over 4500 farms in the greater central Ontario area, "farm-to-table" is a reality even in modest brewpubs and family-friendly eateries.
I also have found some amazing local people who share a passion for the Region's local food and restaurant scene.
Local Line, a tech business founded in Kitchener by Cole Jones, helps local producers, distributors, retailers, and, of course, restaurants find each other. Cole responded almost immediately to my first email with a hearty welcome to the region and offered to help me make connections to get the project started.
Andrew Coppolino is a local food writer for CBC and the creator of Waterloo Region Eats, which is quickly becoming my go-to resource for local restaurants. Andrew met me for a beer at Abe Erb, and when I asked him "Where would be a good place to start?" he pointed to the floor beneath our feet. The owner of this brewpub sources his own chicken and pork from livestock he buys at the start of the season.
FoodLink is a non-profit that advocates for local food and helps consumers find what they're looking for. The site contains a massive amount of content in blogs, recipes, events and a searchable map that allows users to search by the ingredient they want. Anna Contini responded immediately to my email and we'll be meeting soon to figure out ways to work together.
The first shoot for this project will be happening soon, and I'll be sharing updates as we go. Stay tuned!
This past week I traveled back to Maryland to photograph a few projects for a builder who's also a good family friend. The day included two beautiful kitchen remodels and a complete buildout of a condo sales center, and an excellent lunch. (Thanks Frank!)
These are unretouched images - now I'm sitting down to take out the exit signs, wall outlets and other features as my client wishes.
Like most location photographers, one of my most vital pieces of gear is my CAR!
Seriously - with having to haul lots of equipment, and sometimes people, and working for picky, sometimes very image-conscious clients, and occasionally navigating muddy construction sites, I've come to really love my Ford Explorer. But the Explorer has a known defect that I've been able to avoid - until yesterday.
The rear liftgate panel is made of a super-hard resin that, it turns out, does not stand up well to the stress of rapid temperature changes. Canada dealt a particularly big change, from about 6 to 40 Fahrenheit in 24 hours- CRACK!
I've learned that 3rd-Generation (2002-2005) Explorer owners lovingly refer to it as "The Butt Crack"
I've found a local source for the replacement part, and a Youtube video that shows the replacement being a pretty straightforward DIY, so I guess I have a project to tackle in early Spring.
I've loved photography since I was a kid. I've been an assistant, a photographer, an editor, and a manager of a busy corporate photo department. I've been a traveling hired lens since 2003.