Photographers & Storytellers. Working on the craft.

Driving across the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, past Chevron buildings and train tracks, it was hard to imagine an organic farm fit somewhere in there, too. Besides assurance from Gibson Thomas, publisher of Edible Marin & Wine Country, we didn’t know what to expect from the shoot.

But sometimes that freedom, where we don’t have a shot list, or a marketing goal, allows Natalie and me to feel “in the zone.” Three hours flew by while Vernay ‘Pilar’ Reber, the owner of Sunnyside Organic Seedlings, was showing us the in’s and out’s of her farm. Natalie and I both had a moment that reminded us why we love photography: it allows us to meet people we wouldn’t normally meet, and go places we wouldn’t normally go.

We’re honored to have a six-page photo spread in the latest issue - check it out here - “The Farmer”.

From the first bead of molten glass on the pipe, Sam was constantly in motion.  His focus was locked on spinning, dipping, rolling, and shaping the red mass into a recognizable form.  That, and staying hydrated with sips from a cool beer.

We photographed Sam at Photosynthesis, in Berkeley, as part of a project showcasing people using their hands to make things. Not only is this job unique, but in many ways it’s opposite of most people’s work experience: the constant movement, the intense focus on one task, the immersion in surroundings instead of a computer or cellphone.  

Sam’s experience shows the aspects that attract Natalie and me to photography (at least making pictures part of it).  We enjoy the physical part of creating sets, adjusting lights, pressing the shutter, and tinkering until we’ve captured what we set out to create. Okay, well maybe I don’t love lugging sandbags, but you get the point.

"Hola," was my pick-up line for Natalie. From her dark hair and eyes, tan skin, and spunky attitude, I thought, Latina, for sure. While she does speak Spanish, I was way off.  She’s actually Russian - both her parents are from Kiev, (which was part of the USSR when they lived there).

Since we’ve been together, getting to know Natalie’s family has been like an immersion history course. Besides the occasional interlude entirely in Russian, every dinner with her family leads to countless stories of growing up in the Soviet Union, immigrating, and adapting to American culture.

And, a few years back, we were fortunate enough to visit Kiev to add a firsthand experience to her parents’ childhood stories.

This, of course, was just before the major recent unrest in Ukraine.  The only discord while we were there, was the constant din of protest about the case against Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister.

That trip has become a bit more special and nostalgic.  “It will never be the same,” said Natalie’s mom, after seeing on the news the recent destruction of Independence Square.

That’s what makes travel important to us: not just seeing a new place, but experiencing it’s time in history, as well. Not to mention, a taste of fresh varenyky.

Dog in a sidecar,

Dog sunbathing at the beach,

Dog taking a bubble bath…

That was the idea that stopped me.

Whenever we’re brainstorming for a shoot, there’s a point when you realize that it’s your job to go from imaginary, to an actual image. It’s the point where you stop concepting, and start asking, “how?”

And, with just two days for pre-production, that question, “how?” started taking center stage in my mind.

Enter Krista Sanders, Whistle’s Design Director. She, along with her team, are some of the hardest working people we’ve met.  They secured locations, wrangled obscure props, refined the logistics, and our shoot came together seamlessly.

And now the product is out: WhistleGPS!  More photos on their pre-order website: http://whistle.com/gps

We love food. And, it’s hard not to in a city like San Francisco.  Of course, there are the artisan purveyors in every neighborhood, year-round farmers markets, and ridiculously good restaurants all over.

But, over the past two years, we’ve found ourselves drawn to the other side of food, the side that starts with a seed and some soil, and takes a lot of hard work: the farm.

These are images from the first farm we visited - Full Belly Farm in Guinda, CA. Its 350 acres sit by a bend in route 16, along Cache Creek, about two hours from San Francisco. The farm is full of nice people and other friendly inhabitants - here’s a close-up with one of the friendliest

If you’d like to visit, check out their Hoes Down festival in the fall, or just get down to business and sign up for their CSA.

The last time we went to the grocery store, I noticed this effervescence when filing our olive oil bottle, and thought, “dang, that looks cool.” In the checkout line, I started picturing the ‘perfect’ shot - imagining angles and light. Excited, I enlisted Natalie’s help for a test shoot. 

So we shot and we shot and we shot.  I crawled around the set, adjusted the lights, added reflectors, focused the camera, styled the oil, while Natalie art directed (read: sat comfortably, ordered me around).

And it was tiring.

But, after I cleaned up the many puddles of olive oil, and put away the gear, and finally took a good look at the images on our iMac,  I thought, “This is why there are two of us.” Natalie took my idea, and made it better.  She took it from that nebulous fog of an idea, to something that exists in an image, and makes me think ‘Dang, that looks cool.”

Of all the tools we have in our kitchen, by far, my favorite are our knives from R. Murphy Knives. The chefs knives are carbon steel, full tang, awesomely-sharp, kitchen prep machines. And, lucky us, we had the chance to photograph R. Murphy’s factory for the food blog, Food52. 

The goal was to to show the process of how the knives are made by hand at one of the oldest knife companies in America - established in 1850.  We had a full tour, from steel blanks, to stamped logos on the finished knives, including the molten salt bath to temper the steel.

Mark Furman and Mimi Younkins, the current owners, are awesome. They know a ton about the company’s history, but also always strive to make the next advancement to their product.  Recently, they teamed up with a company to salvage reclaimed wood from abandoned buildings to use in their kitchen knife handles - for sale at Provisions.

Seeing all the action at the factory got us thinking about other products that are handmade, and the people and process behind creating. Look for a handmade project coming soon.  Do you make something by hand? Interested in being photographed at work? Send us an email and we’ll talk.

We’ve been fortunate enough to travel a bit over our six years together. The only place we’ve returned to multiple times is Kauai.  Besides the short flight from San Francisco, we love the laid-back atmosphere, ridiculously beautiful nature, fresh fruit, and the surf.

And, we’re headed back in few short weeks. This trip, we’re looking for more adventures off the beaten path like Secret Falls in the last image.

To see the falls, we kayaked up the Wailua River, then hiked on foot the last few miles. Yes. There was quite a bit of mud. And yes, Natalie fell in. Then she shot this last photo, so it was worth it.

Walkin’ the plank up in Bodega Bay.

Meet Isabelle, our awesome friend from Oakland, CA.  We recently drove up to Bodega Bay with her and Santi, to get a fix of clam chowder, with a side of fog. 

Feeling hip enough for some vintage finds? Isabelle and Santi recently started Field Work General. Check out their shop on Etsy.

Bodega Bay, California
Bodega Bay, California

Bodega Bay, California