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Love and Sugar Launch Countdown Week
Homework. That’s what I gave Paschalis Gogos on the day we sat down to discuss shooting the desserts in my book. Piled high in front of us was a stack of cookbooks.
This here? This is what I don’t want. No fussy studio shots. My desserts are all tied into events. For real people.
He smiled and told me he was new at this, shooting food, but he wasn’t new to photography. Rock n’ roll stars, nervous brides, babies in christening gowns-all part of his portfolio, one that began with a baby. His own. Looking at his newborn prompted, as it does in many of us, a wish to hold the moment. Somehow we know through our exhaustion that it will all be fleeting.
I began shooting my firstborn Aphroditi, and fell in love with photography right then.
Paschalis had been my guy for parties before. He shot my daughter’s album cover when her single, Counting Down the Days, came out. He was charming and gracious among throngs of women at my annual Christmas book drive and delivered me a gorgeous crop of photos soon after.
Paschalis likes to shoot people in the moment without much posing, journalistic style. I saw the beautiful pictures of wedding and baptisms he did for friends and our own crowd gathered for a wild bash for my husband’s birthday. Likely you’ve guessed by now: Paschalis is a family member. (He is married to my husband’s cousin.) That he works full-time and does this all on the side, for pleasure, is still astounding to me. But it is exactly what worked in this colourful journey of making my book: with love and sugar is about family. Paschalis understood this crucial visual element sometimes more than I did. My desserts don’t have fancy trimmings. I admire the pros. But as an untidy baker, my kitchen is hardly ever serene. The best desserts are about taste and ritual. Yet I love presenting them with colourful flourishes and all of our sessions were joyful experimentations.
He would set up the shot and then we’d check it. Take the dessert outside and stick it on the grass. Or put the birthday cake on my red chair. Why not? There are no rules. We can do whatever we want. Whatever wacky angle I wanted to try, he was game. Making the shot pretty every time became the rule not the exception. Every now and then I would ask him if he thought my dessert was too messy. His answer always brought me back.
“It’s you, Anne. This is the real you. I want it to capture that.”
Here are some of my favourites. Each reminds me of the sheer fun I had with this deeply generous and creative guy. Much as I’d like to think his huge spirit came into play in my kitchen, I suspect just about anyone lucky enough to work with him gets the same results.
As for some of the other photos in my book, the credit continues all in the family. My sister Jane Langford doesn’t make her living by being a photographer either.
As VP Legal, for Toronto Dominion, my baby sis is responsible for a team of lawyers and other professionals who support the bank’s corporate engine. I’m tired just writing that. So how does she whip out her camera and deliver hundreds of shots at every family gathering? Or show up early for my children’s graduation ceremonies to capture just the right shot? Allowing me to just sit and marvel at how time flies? Here’s one of Jane’s shots in my book that I love:
My mother, Marion Langford’s pictures are also in my book. Her many photos line albums that threaten to take over any room they’re in. I lost count at 100. Albums that is. These archives of our family life are treasures for all of us.
Without them, I wouldn’t have the book I do now. Then again, without her, I wouldn’t have anything. Here’s to you Mom, the original family chronicler.
Here are all my photographers* with the love and sugar breakdown:
What’s your favourite sweet thing to eat? Homemade or otherwise.
Paschalis: My favorite sweet thing to eat is profiteroles.
Jane: Anything made by my sister Anne. If she’s up to her elbows in pie crust, I will satisfy myself buying chocolate, in any form. I can’t live without it. I tried.
Marion: Anything with chocolate on the outside, fruit in the inside. Chocolatey and fruity is what I like.
What’s your favourite sweet thing to bake? Don’t bake? Is there something someone else bakes that you love?
Paschalis: Melomakarona is what my mom used to make at Christmas and Easter. I would dunk them in milk.
Jane: I love the smell of fresh, home-made shortbread baking in the oven in the house at Christmas. And the ritual of icing it stirs my soul.
Marion: A birthday cake. And also the Christmas cake, I like making that too.
What’s a ritual you love?
Paschalis: My favourite ritual is going for walks alone with my beautiful wife at the beach, park or window shopping on the Danforth or other city street.
Jane: I have so many favourites. The one in my mind now is the “PJ day” in our home on Boxing Day. PJ day is an acronym for anything goes: eat what we want, stay in pjs, play all day. The notion that we have a free day with no commitments or responsibilities for a day is heavenly. My kids love it. My husband loves it. I love it the most.
Marion: Anything with my husband, like going to the symphony and swimming in Florida.
Next up, we continue the theme of who made Anne’s book happen. Check back to hear about my support crew!