The shot above is from the set of Wedding Cakes You Can Make, which was comprised of all women: photographer Zeva Olebaum, food stylist Karen Tack, prop stylist Cathy Cook, myself and all the assistants. Here you can see Zeva taking a light reading during our one outdoor shot. We were in a fabulous light filled loft in NYC and there was this lovely outdoor roof that we decided to use on-the-spot.
Here is a pic above of the cake from a better perspective. The tiers are arranged off-set and the fresh flowers are cascading to accentuate the fluid shape. I brought the blackberries on-the-vine straight from my friend's garden in Hadley, MA.
The following pics are of the same cake. First we made a "tablecloth" out of leaves. We took an inexpensive cloth and hot-glued the leaves on, one by one, in an overlapping fashion. This took quite a while. It is not difficult, and it is very effective in the end, but you need some time to get the job done. Zeva set up the shot and let us know that we really only needed to cover the cloth about three-quarters of the way around, as that was all that was going to show in the shot. There is never a moment to waste on a photo shoot, so the tablecloth was only completed to the degree that it needed to be. In the next shot you can see Karen making an adjustment after looking through the lens and seeing something out of whack. Notice the background. It is not the background in the following shot. Often a test will be done and if it is not quite right, the prop stylist will come in with a new idea.
The next shots are of the cover cake. We didn't know it was the cover at the time, but as we got farther along in the process, it became clear that this cake had what we wanted to evoke: it is pretty, yet the vertical lines of the piped buttercream keep it from being too frilly. The fresh flowers are easy to place and the three tiers, in the 6", 10" 14" configuration, are my favorite silhouette. The first photo shows Karen about to hand-place on little sweet pea blossom to fill out the arrangement.
The following two pics show a subtlety of styling. can you tell the difference in my Nutella Cake?
The difference is a very light dusting of cocoa. I thought it added a textural interest. In the end, the photo editor chose to go with a picture without the cocoa and also without the top crown of curls. That might seem plain, but in the book it is very tightly cropped and it works. Still, I am a More is More kinda gal and if I made this cake again, I would dust with cocoa.
This next pic is of the square tiered Marzipan and Orange Essensia Cake. Essensia is a lovely orange muscat wine that is brushed on the cake layers. Placing the sliced blanched almonds one-by-one on the cake is a very effective border. In the background you can see many of the typical photo-shoot needs: iron and ironing board for smoothing out tablecloths, a pile of tablecloths in various colors, paper towels (we use Lots), a Pantone book for looking at colors for ideas, pieces of glass cut to order for the base of the cakes and in the rear left, a round Styrofoam dummy that was used as a stand-in for size approximations. I don't remember what the spray paint was for. Perhaps a background.
I love this next picture of my chocolate-filled Valentine's Day Cake because it shows its true colors. In the book, the pink on the tablecloth is reflecting onto the cake, making it look pink. In fact, I once went to a book signing in Philadelphia and the pastry chef recreated the cake - and it was pink! I couldn't imagine why; I figured it was his/her interpretation. And then I took a long, hard look at my picture in the book and realized she thought it really Was pink!
Here is an actual picture of a slice taken out of that Pink cake, just as an aside.