I am not sure that any photographer growing up dreams of one day taking photos of products to sell, of being a commercial product photographer. Growing up, photography for me was found drooling over National Geographic pictorials of Arctic exploration, of remote villages in Africa, and the first summit attempts of Everest without supplemental oxygen. The idea of photography was adventure. It probably didn't help that my perception of photography developed at the ripe ol' age of 10 years old from a love of hearing my Grandpa tell and re-tell the story of one of his first assignments as a photojournalist with the Salt Lake Tribune. He was to photograph a training demonstration at a local Naval base that featured live fire from a 20mm Howitzer. He had the bright idea to shoot, crouching low to the ground, in front of the gun as it was fired in order to capture the gun's TRUE POWER. Needless to say the concussion from that 20mm cannon sent him reeling head over heels leaving him with both ear drums ruptured but, as he was always quick to say, he got the shot! Now, I haven't taken the chance to stand in front of a cannon firing, and I certainly have not made my way to the summit of Everest. So, where does that leave me then if photography is adventure? Am I missing out? Lately, I've come to find that the true adventure does not rest squarely on the shoulders of the exotic but also remains hidden in the subtlety of light. I mean, it was the quality of light that made all those National Geographic pictures so awesome right? The adventure then is in discovering the quality, shape, texture, and how, as you're ripping your hair out from the roots, to deal that obnoxious reflection that is coming from God knows where. And that's what I've been up to lately, the adventure of transforming coffee cups and mugs, chocolate coated espresso beans and ornate pour-over coffee kits into expeditions of light for Tim Wheeler, owner of Durango Coffee Company. Check out their website at www.cooksandcoffee.com or stop in, grab a coffee, and talk shop with Wheeler himself.
Follow along with Ben's current projects
It's funny sometimes where the fuel to fire comes from. This time around the spark came from the time I offered to make my partner in crime some of my world famous paleo pancakes. Let's for a moment ignore the irony of paleolithic foodstuffs having any relation to pancakes and focus on the fact that when done right these pancakes taste amazing and are chock full of healthy omega's, b12, and some good ol' fashioned animal protein. Plus, it's the one and only recipe I have memorized. It was raining a steady downbeat that morning so, I put on some coffee and then went through my routine:
threw the dry ingredients together
Cinnamon, 1/2 Cup Almond Flour, 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda, Pinch o' Salt, 1 Banana
Then the other goodies:
2 Eggs, Vanilla Extract, Splash o' Almond Milk, 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Mixed Em' Together until the Banana and Almond Flour smoothed out.
As I was bragging that my pancake technique was reaching perfection, I reached for a banana only to find that there were none to be had. I stared at the empty fruit bowl and then over to the cinnamon flavored almond flour mocking me. What was I to do? I remembered back to the way my old childhood friend's mom used to crank out pancakes, with apple sauce. Inspired, I got out the Magic Bullet and pureed a couple of apples.
The result? Muffled through mouthfuls of pancake, "Some of the best damn fall flavor pancakes I've ever had!" And it was this combination of the changing seasons, the steady rain against the kitchen windows, and cinnamon and apple that got her brain turning over. "You know what we need to do?" she asked. "We totally need to make a cookbook based on local ingredients that can be foraged from around the Southwest," she said reaching for another pancake. It seemed like a good idea. I have no business really, being in the kitchen and trying to cook but I knew that I could handle the camera.
The first step was to come up with ingredients that could easily be found and were abundant during our current season. We couldn't have planned it better. The rains kept coming and that meant only one thing- Mushrooms! And if we lucked out, we could glean a few high country raspberry's and choke cherry's too. Being in the desert southwest we also chose to gather up some Prickly Pear cactus to make nopales and planned to catch a few Brookie Trout. Did I mention neither one of us knows how to fish? Hmmm, making this cookbook is going to be an education in the making. Check back here to see some of the photos and to keep up to date on when the completed book will be available.