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A spring bouquet from Christina Schmidhofer

Hello,

From Bay Area-based still and motion photographer Christina Schmidhofer, here’s a burst of springtime hope and beauty. Flowers are huge for Christina. She loves their perfect imperfection, their impossibly delicious colors and their natural sense of style. Flowers always seem to find their way into her interior styling, home decor, and lifestyle work—and her life. She spends a great deal of time curating, cultivating and caring for them in her own garden. In fact, she didn’t just shoot this lovely bouquet. She grew everything in it. Happy spring, everyone. It’s time to smell the peonies.

Fondly,

Freda

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CHRISTINA SCHMIDHOFER

 

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Thompson and Homonnay: keeping it real with moms and kids

Hello,

One of the specialties—and very special talents—of San Francisco–based photography duo Ashley Thompson and Ana Homonnay is photographing kids and teens. In these shots for Mother Mag, Sterling Bank & Trust, and BarbCo Real Estate, the clients wanted real moments of tenderness and connection—a dream assignment for Ash and Ana. As real-life moms themselves, they bring empathy and connection to every step of the process, often choosing to cast real families and photograph them in their natural environments. Rather than posing people or staging situations, they like to start with what’s familiar—a playful pet, a song, a meal, a parent telling a story—and then step back and let things happen spontaneously. It’s when the subjects barely even realize they’re being photographed that the real magic begins. And that’s why the beautiful bond between mother and child feels so authentic in these images. Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

Fondly,

Freda

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ASHLEY THOMPSON & ANA HOMONNAY

 

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Lavender fields forever

Hello,

Brooklyn-based photographer/director Bryan Coppede recently told me, “I value the outdoors and nature, even when it’s cultivated.” I think that’s a perfect way to describe what makes him such a gifted outdoor photographer. He captures the authentic beauty of natural settings and the people who care for them. But, like the family farmers he loves to document, he also uses his eye and his camera to “cultivate” nature in ways that bring out its beauty. To capture the lavender harvest at Araceli Farms and tell the inspiring story of founder Justina Salinas in the best light (literally), Bryan found himself shooting at dawn in the company of hundreds of thousands of bees, and at sunset at the close of a 107˚ day. He loves that kind of natural challenge, and nature loves him back: he didn’t get a single bee sting from dawn to dusk!

Fondly,

Freda

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Bryan Coppede

 

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How Eli Meir Kaplan sees dads and daughters

Hello,

I love “love projects”—the ones professionals do just for the pure pleasure of applying their skills and talents to a subject they care about. Five years ago, when Washington, DC–based still and motion photographer Eli Meir Kaplan’s first daughter was born, most of his interests and hobbies fell by the wayside. But that opened up some creative space for him. Hanging out with other new dads, he started taking pictures, and before long, the “Dads with Daughters” project was born. It was a fun way to experience the different qualities dads have that endear them to their kids—and to celebrate that special, magical relationship. As the daughter of a dad myself, I’m particularly fond of these charming photos. They’re such a great example of how a “love project” can really capture the spirit of love.

Fondly,

Freda

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Eli Meir Kaplan

 

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Cindy Salans Rosenheim’s animal instincts

Hello,

When illustrator Cindy Salans Rosenheim was a little girl, she asked her artist mom how to draw a bird. Her response was curt, but life-changing. She gestured to the garden and said, “find one.” That little story says a lot about Cindy’s work. It has that rare combination of “real” and “loose” that comes from a lifetime of sketching from life. Cindy has a particularly winning way with animals. She tells me that although humans have more elastic faces than their feathered and furry counterparts, she loves the challenge of capturing animals’ emotions by getting their body positions and a few telling details just right. I think that’s why, whether she’s drawing people, animals, or pretty much anything else, editorial and commercial clients from The New York Times to Hasbro and Hermès love her work. It’s that tightrope act of balancing spot-on realism and spontaneity, with just a few perfectly placed strokes of the pen and brush (and about 10,000 hours of practice).

Fondly,

Freda

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Cindy Salans Rosenheim

 

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Steve Belkowitz captures the soul of the senior set

Every year, I get more inquiries from companies who want images of active-lifestyle seniors. Philadelphia-based still and motion photographer Steve Belkowitz has a real talent for bringing out the inner joy in people of any age. Steve knows that no matter how much experience and wisdom people have, we’re all still kids inside, so he looks for situations and moments that help older people connect with that feeling of youthful fun and relaxation. Recognizing that seniors might have a bit less stamina, he does his homework in advance—scouting and setting up shots, props and colors as much as possible to keep the actual shoot short and sweet. These images all feature “real people,” not models. They’re great examples of how Steve strikes just the right balance of spontaneous authenticity and polished precision that commercial work requires—no matter how young or old his subjects are.

Fondly,

Freda

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STEVE BELKOWITZ
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Richard Jung on the mouthwatering mysteries of chocolate

Hello,

In honor of Easter, Passover and spring, please enjoy this chocolate sampler from Richard Jung. What makes these images so mouthwatering? Here’s what Richard has to say:

“How do you make something look delicious? The answer is visual taste cues. These are the little bits and details in a picture that trigger our brains to recall past experiences—the temperature, the texture, the mouthfeel. It’s the crunch of perfect pastry contrasting with a creamy filling. Cool and crisp meeting hot and spicy. Tangy and sour melding with sweet. In a photograph, these visual cues help our brains fill in the missing senses, and chocolate has cues galore! It’s such a versatile and joyful subject to shoot and film. Whether in solid, liquid or powder form it’s endlessly flexible and has an inherent mysterious beauty. There’s just something about this rich, silky, sinful substance that conjures blissful euphoria. I think all my fellow chocolate addicts out there will agree!”

I certainly do.

Fondly,

Freda

P.S. Scroll all the way down for an easy little holiday recipe.

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richard jung
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When a creative guru called, Brian Smale got creative.

Hello,

Shooting portraits that capture the spirit of a creative genius might be a daunting proposition for some photographers. Not Brian Smale. When author, blogger, podcaster, entrepreneur and world-renowned creativity guru Roy Sharples contacted him about shooting some author photos to use on his books, website and social media, Brian rose to the challenge. He proposed a gritty, industrial B&W look, since Seattle has a lot of great outdoor options that hit that sweet spot between grunge and magic. He scouted some locations that Roy loved, and on the day, the weather cooperated for the two hours of available light you get in Seattle in December. A few more shots in a nearby studio rounded out the day. And now, a few months later, these images are all over the internet and all over the planet.

Fondly,

Freda

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BRIAN SMALE
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How Nader Khouri shapes stories with shadows

Hello,

The work of San Francisco-based food and lifestyle photographer Nader Khouri is constantly evolving to stay fresh and relevant. Throughout his career, he has explored his own signature ways of using shadows. If light is a photograph’s surface, shadows are its foundation—the context that gives depth, meaning, and a sense of place. Nader has a great eye for using cast shadows as graphic elements—a technique that’s particularly effective in shooting packaging. Here’s some new work he lit, “shadowed,” and shot in collaboration with his longtime stylist colleague, Jillian Knox, with whom he shares an obsession with beautiful, elegant bottle design.

Fondly,

Freda

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NADER KHOURI
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Shooting the bull with Michal Venera

Hello,

Michal Venera recently traveled to California’s Central Valley to hang out with a tight-knit group of cattle ranchers—generations of immigrants from the Portuguese Azores Islands—who get together to compete, rodeo-style, in an all-day, all-night marathon of games that pit their prized trained bulls against each other, just as their ancestors have done for centuries back home. Michal, himself an immigrant and a “gentleman rancher” (his studio is a stunning converted barn in the middle of a pastoral, 36-acre sheep ranch near Petaluma), loves to capture stories of people who take pride in preserving old-world ways. And I love sharing them.

Fondly,

Freda

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MICHAL VENERA