Behind the Scenes of the #BestofShowProject

cheese chick-18As a “cultural” historian and digital storyteller, there’s nothing I like better than a big cheesy story to sink my teeth into. The ACS Best of Show Project – which celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the American Cheese Society and the amazing growth in quality, fine cheese in the Americas during that same period – was an idea I could not put down once it began to rattle around in my brain.

To bring the project to reality, I knew I needed a few things – cheesemaker support and enthusiasm for the project and a budget which would include creative support from a local food stylist. I found the right combo when 16 cheesemakers signed up within just a few weeks and I booked the mid-March shoot with a talented local stylist in Phoenix, Kim Krejca, a former Art Director who turned her talents to food styling a few years ago.

We shot the images over the course of a week – with several days of pre-production shooting in my home studio followed by a three day long shoot at Kim’s gorgeous studio space, a converted garage which had great light and, thankfully, killer AC, which we needed, even in March.

It was great fun to work with Kim and learn her tricks of the trade – my toolkit will never be without foam makeup wedges again! She also had a wonderful arsenal of props and linens which brought a sense of continuity and great style to the project.

cheese chick-04Having another visual creative to collaborate with was perhaps the best part. Shooting alone, in my home studio, can be a little isolating and a tad overwhelming, especially with a project as large as this one.

We photographed 18 winning cheeses – more than pounds of cheese arrived at my door for the shoot! – and 2100 total images were captured. Thank goodness for Lightroom and its robust cataloging system which allowed me to make sense of all these images!

A huge thank you to the complementary food companies that sent products for the shoot. The delicious and beautiful accompaniments make the photos shine. Pairings used in the styling were recommended by the cheesemakers in many cases. Thank you to: FoodMatch, La Panzenella, Olli Salumeria, Vermont Quince, Virginia Chutney Company.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them. ACS Conference attendees can pick up a FREE copy of the #BestofShowProject poster at the Cheese Chick Productions booth (more details here). For those of you not joining us in Madison, you can order a copy of the poster here.

cheese chick-54Prints from the series will be available in the coming weeks to adorn walls of cheese shops, tasting rooms and restaurants. I hope you will be inspired by this gorgeous edible art and expand your culinary horizons through savoring fine American cheeses!

(Images on this page and some in the video were taken by the Lucky Shot Photography)