About thirty years ago I was working for the Stamford Advocate, a small 35,000 circulation newspaper in one of the top per-capita earning counties in America, Fairfield County, Connecticut. It is usually runs neck and neck with Orange County CA for who has the most amazing homes and cars.
I had been at a newspaper in then downtrodden Jersey City, NJ for two years prior, cutting my teeth on gritty black and white photography when I decided I needed to move away from the greatest spot news city on earth(what was I thinking?) to the suburbs to learn color photography.
Color slide photography in particular. Back then the better publications, Life, National Geographic, Time, and Newsweek, still adhered to shooting color slide film. What is color slide film? Basically anything with the suffix chrome. From Ektachrome, to Kodachrome, the rarely shot Agfachrome to the tried-and-true press photographer's blue and green box of Fujichrome. Its the stuff your parents used back in the 1960s before the advent of color print film, and it came cut up and mounted in tiny little cardboard or plastic frames that you always needed to hold up to the light.
Chrome, slide film, or positive, whichever one you choose, was always the most challenging film to shoot. You had to be spot on with color balance, in addition to composition, lighting, and of course, the elusive decisive moment.
One day I was assigned to photograph a girl whom I referred to as Cookie Girl because that was the business she was starting, with the help of her parents, in between homework, chores and being a teen. I arrived at her home figuring on shooting a typical environmental portrait when it dawned on me after seeing the number of cookies that were baked for the shoot, that we could be much more creative in terms of our photography by NOT doing the typical "girl holding tray of chocolate-chip cookies" shot, or "girl getting flour all over herself attempting to bake shot. I'm sure I was heavily influenced by Annie Leibowitz at the time, she always had that great idea and great lighting to make images come to life. The story was for the business section and they had a lot of space, so I said to my subject, "lets have you surrounded by cookies!!!" Mom looked at me strangely for a second, then she got it and immediately became my best assistant. I suggested we put her daughter face up on the dining room floor and use an unseen shoebox to hold her head up and we cut out plastic sheeting on which to place the cookies. The cookies were positioned exactly where they needed to be and if I remember correctly we had just enough cookies to fill the frame! I then loaded my trusty Nikon 8008 with fujichrome Velvia or Provia, placed a soft box or two on either side, took some light meter readings, hit the shutter and voila! Cookie Girl came to life! Im sure I did the typical shots too, but someone else saw my vision and carried the ball upfield. The photo ran at least four columns on the front of the business section, and everyone seemed happy about it. If I find the newspaper clip, Ill attach it.