An inside look at how we approached the cover story photo shoot of food entreprenuer Chuck Eggert.
Our cover photo shoot for the September issue took place on a glorious day in August, one of those days when you pound the car seat in delight as you drive, jubilant to be out here instead of back at the office, peering into a lighted box on your desk.
Photographer Jason Kaplan and I met food entrepreneur and former owner of Pacific Foods Chuck Eggert and his associate, Sam Burton, at one of his Aurora-area dairies, timing the appointment for when the cows would be out.
This Eggert facility has at least three “strings” of cows, a cohort that eat, sleep and gather in the shade together to review things and chew their cud. The string we photographed included Holsteins, Jerseys and one Normandy cow, whose milk would be used to produce Camembert cheese.
Eggert’s enterprise and vision are impressive — as is the size of his dog, Buddy, a breed called Landseer, related to Newfoundlands. The cows, it seems, view Buddy as a sort of rare, free calf, and they clamored to check him out. (Perhaps it was his Holstein coloring?)
They’d inch closer and closer, inadvertently framing amazing compositions around Eggert and Buddy, up until the dog tried to play with them, which of course sent the cows slapping into each other as they scattered, making for a somewhat chaotic photo shoot.
The theme of September’s issue is education, and at nearly every step of Eggert’s many endeavors are teaching opportunities to educate the public about sustainable food production and nutrition.
Our pie-in-the-sky idea was to put a desk out in the pasture and photograph the food entrepreneur in situ, surrounded by dairy cattle. That got the kibosh.
The backup concept was to photograph Eggert in the field, glancing up from one of his antique texts on farming and cooking. However, the resulting image felt wooden, and the bright sun forced Eggert’s eyes into an inscrutable squint.
In the shot we chose for the cover, Eggert is unconsciously adjusting his glasses. The gesture is natural and unforced, as is Eggert’s appearance in the wide shot we used for the inside lede.
In this shot, the cows gaze at the riveting Buddy, while Eggert looks off into farming’s future.
You can read more about Eggert’s new agricultural ventures in the September issue cover story “The Good Farmer.”