Thoughts on starting and running a small business

The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook

One time on the farm, an ice cream manufacturer asked my parents if they could film a commercial. It involved two kids in “Prairie outfits” running up the stairs of the old farmhouse behind our house and then eating ice cream on the step. Of course my parents said “sure”, thinking the film crew and entourage would be there for an hour or so.

A full day – and many gallons of melted ice cream – later, all of us were so tired of seeing those “stupid kids” run happily up the stairs, I can’t tell you. I’m sure the commercial was under a minute, when it finally hit the Saskatoon television world.

I’ve thought of that day often since starting PGB, and with a little more empathy. As I write this I’m in the early days of our 5th photo shoot and this one is the longest of all of them, with 8 solid days of photography. Six days are dedicated to the 40 or more images we need for the Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook being published by Random House in 2016…and over the last two days we will do the photography of the cookies, brownies and tarts being launched in November.

One thing I have found interesting is that cookbook photography is so different from web and advertising photography, the latter being mostly shown on a plain white background so that it blends seamlessly into the web page, poster, or whatever. Also in those previous photo shoots, we’ve had the perspective of promoting the store’s sales, so the images were from a customer’s perspective: holidays, baby showers, weddings, birthday picks…

With the cookbook, however, we need images of just icing, then just uniced cupcakes, then certain flavours grouped together, and each and every Treat of the Week needs to be photographed, somehow combined with others TOW in a way that makes sense, like “Kids at Heart”.

It has been a lot of work to get ready but it is really fun to watch the pictures being taken and then suddenly appearing on the laptop. Every image takes about an hour, with detailed discussions about the merits of a red and white napkin versus a teal one, or two shards of dark chocolate beside the cupcake, or three. We will be knee deep in this project until the end of next Monday so that Saskatoon ice cream commercial is starting to look like a snap.

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