Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from our November edition of Confident Cook, featuring Betsy Nelson’s suggestions for cooking with cast-iron cookware. It was fun to see how photographer Terry Brennan utilized the beautiful natural light in his studio to highlight the texture and color of cast-iron. I hope my photos illustrate how much work goes into every single shot.
Meet the Experience Life team, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how the magazine comes together each month.
Posts Tagged Behind the Scenes
If you (like me) are a fan of Brussels sprouts, I hope you have the chance to check out “Autumn Jewels,” our October edition of Confident Cook. In it, That Food Girl Betsy Nelson suggests lots of easy ways to enjoy this fall staple. As usual, creative director Lydia Anderson and food photographer extraordinaire Terry Brennan were on hand to bring Betsy’s recipes to life.
As a (semi-)recent addition to the Experience Life team, I remember how I felt when I started my new job. Every workplace culture is different, and I wondered: Would I fit in? Would I feel pressure to start going to the gym again? Would my co-workers judge me by what I brought to the office for lunch?
Thankfully, all my worries were for nothing, as the EL team made me feel like family immediately: turns out they are a very nonjudgmental group of people. But when I read the article “New-Job Jitters,” I recalled those anxious feelings, and I knew Ellen Weinstein would be the perfect artist to capture them. Her sketches all did a great job of conceptualizing the idea (above), but it was the image of the man gazing down into the pool that really drew us in (below). The way he is so precariously positioned at the end of the diving board aptly provides the tension necessary to express that emotion. We played with a couple color revisions before going with the final version (below bottom).
Thanks to Ellen for contributing her talents to EL this month!
It takes a lot of people to make our cover shoots a success, and it was no different the day we photographed Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder back in April. Experience Life Creative Director Lydia Anderson was the creative force behind the whole operation, and photographer Jim Gallop was a blast to work with as always. Stylist Pam Brand helped Ponder look his best, and Jim’s team of assistants were always there to make adjustments to the lighting as needed.
Thanks to everybody, especially Ponder, for making this another successful day!
Recently, we filmed the instructional demonstration for our upcoming “Kettlebells for Everyone” story, which comes out in the December issue.
The coach, Fawn Friday, RKC, was incredibly helpful and clear. I’ve been using kettlebells in my workouts for the past three years, but I learned something new.
Like this trick to mastering the hip hinge, a movement that’s crucial to proper kettlebell-workout form: Use a dowel to make sure you are keeping your back straight, so the work truly comes from the hips and not the lower back, which will just lead to injury. I usually only know my form is suffer after my workout, when my back feels achy. But no more with this trick!
Friday walked us through each exercise and offered helpful suggestions and modifiers for beginners or advanced kettlebell users.
She specializes in kettlebell workouts at her gym in St. Paul, Minn., and shared with us some of her client feedback: No matter how athletic you think you are, kettlebells will give you a run for your money. Even the lighter weights give you quite a workout: Your heart starts racing within a few reps of the kettlebell swing. I can only imagine how intense her classes are! A reverse lunge like this one below is all the more difficult as you brace your core and keep the kettlebell in rack position:
Watch for our video — shot by the talented Steve Flynn of Good Looking Films, who also shot and edited our two Show Me How videos on Medicine-Ball Slams and the Under-the-Hurdle Drill — when it’s on our site on November 15. And, of course, you won’t want to miss the always delightful Laine Bergeson, a senior editor here at Experience Life, as she learns proper kettlebell form from Friday.
Oliver Burkeman’s book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking (Faber & Faber, 2013), suggests that there is a “negative path to happiness,” and that we can find it without forcing it via self-help books and so-called “positive” thinking.
It’s a difficult concept to grasp, so I knew the art for this article needed to be simple and direct, and would require some out-of-the-box thinking, which is why I thought of Pete Ryan. His illustrations are always whip-smart, and he offers me a wide array of options (above are only 9 of the 14 different ideas he sent). The final art (below) turned out exactly as I’d hoped. Thanks, Pete!
What’s great about being a fairly recent addition to the Experience Life team (going on a year and a half now) is that I still have so much to learn about healthy eating. Every Confident Cook article still informs me just as much as it does our readers. At the photo shoot for “Sweet Beets” (from our July/August issue), Betsy Nelson taught me a few things I didn’t know about one of my absolute favorite veggies. One is that beet greens are actually more packed with nutrition than their more familiar bottoms. But if you aren’t going to use the tops, she also taught me that they should be cut off before storing your beets, as they will leach moisture from them. Seems like simple stuff, but for me, the simple things I’ve learned working at the magazine have been life-changing. Thanks as always to Betsy, and to Terry Brennan for helping make our article about beets beautiful!
Every Confident Cook photo shoot is a collaboration between Art Director Lydia Anderson, Photographer Terry Brennan, and Food Stylist/Recipe Creator Betsy Nelson. An additional part of Betsy’s job is our Master Grocery-Getter. She searches far and wide for the gorgeous fresh produce featured in Confident Cook. After the shoot, there is frequently produce leftover, so I often get the chance to try new ingredients at home. I’ve never cooked with bok choy, so it was a totally new experience for me. I ended up trying it roasted, and also chopped up raw in my salad. Yum!
(And by the way, that’s me holding the different sizes of bok choy on page 48. Lydia is always roping me into doing stuff like this).
I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I heard we’d be featuring small, oily fish in our May edition of Confident Cook. I am normally a huge fan of anything that swims, but had some preconceived notions about what canned fish is good for (e.g. cat food). So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the many easy ways that Betsy Nelson incorporated these healthy (and surprisingly tasty) little creatures into her recipes. Who knew they were so versatile? As usual, Terry Brennan made them look beautiful as well.
As I said in an earlier post, the first thing I decide before commissioning an illustration is whether it should be conceptual, literal, emotional or decorative. Adam Niklewicz is one of my go-to artists for conceptual illustrations, especially when I need a topic stripped down to its essential elements.
For the article “Loving What Is,” I needed an image to convey the idea of accepting our lives as they are, rather than what we think they could or should be. In addition to sending him the article, I nudged him in a general direction — as I often do — by tossing out the phrase “staying calm in a chaotic world.” Adam gave me some great sketches that all relate to that idea (above).
We loved the one with the guy under the umbrella, and only asked that Adam change the figure so that he is reaching his hand out, to indicate that he is evaluating the situation (below left). The final art (below right) had just the optimistic tone we were looking for.
Thanks to Adam for providing us with another lovely image!