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Part one of photographing the
Listen To Your Vegetables cookbook

Every now and then a special project comes across my desk that I know is going to be a whole lot of fun both creatively and personally. A project that will push me to think differently, push me to grow as a photographer.

In the early spring of 2021, my friend Sarah Grueneberg, Chef/Owner of Monteverde, mentioned that she was working on a cookbook and asked if I’d be interested in doing the photography. Surprisingly the book was to be about exploring seasonal vegetables and not just pasta. When I learned that Sarah was willing to food style the entire thing, I immediately said yes. 


Each chapter of the book would have an opener focused on one vegetable family. There was a lot of discussion between Sarah, our prop stylist Lorrie J, and I about how the opener should look. Ultimately, we wanted the vegetables to pop off the page and to truly highlight the detail of their beauty. We started with Asparagus and I knew we needed a different perspective. We looked at the spears overhead laying on a surface, we looked at them at ¾ angle – neither did them justice. Ultimately, we ended up with an incredible stack of different kinds of asparagus that enhanced the vegetable in a dynamic way and set the tone for the book.  


       Throughout the process we had these discussions and did what was the best look for the specific vegetable. Lighting for detail was so important. So were the surfaces that Lorrie J picked as they provided contrast and additional texture.


        Below you will LOOK through my eyes as I capture the intimacy of vegetables. This is part one in a two-part series exploring how Sarah’s new cookbook, Listen To Your Vegetables, came to fruition. In part two, we'll LISTEN with Sarah and learn how vegetables speak to her and help her create iconic recipes. 


The simplicity of the monotone purple peas and grey surface really make the greens stand out.


I love to work with a single element. It allows me to take my time and study how the light reacts. 


Artichokes give you a lot to work with. The greens and purples pop off the granite and the textures of the leaves, the heart, the stem allowed me to play with light.


Seasonal tomatoes are a study of light and color, but nature created the circular zipper that adds interest to the photo.


I spend a lot of time focusing on lightning, but composition and negative space are also important.


The natural subtle colors and dustiness is captured on the surface of the squash.


The challenge of this shot was bringing two opposing leaves together to create intimacy.

Photos & Story - Stephen Hamilton
Food Styling & Recipes - Sarah Grueneberg
Prop Styling - Lorrie Jamiolkowski
Graphic design - Judith Mara
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