Yes, Virginia we take our own pictures

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2000

Last week The Democrat photographer Ben Hillyer and I headed out to Longwood to take the food photo you see here.

We started working on different ideas, moving and rearranging props and dodging tourists. Luckily the hostesses at Longwood are a great group and they accommodated us, especially, Yvonne Nosser.

Before we left I heard a familiar statement.

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&uot;Y’all really do take those food pictures yourself?&uot; Even though I have heard it before I am always surprised by it.

I and the photography staff here at The Democrat are proud to say that in the year and a little over a half that I have been here we have only bought four photos from other sources for the food page.

One photo purchase happened because a catfish I had would not lay flat (OK, so I couldn’t find a flounder). Two involved my being sick, and one just flat out looked better than my cooking. But other than those, I do the cooking and the photographers here do their thing.

Ideally, I meet with Stacy Graning or Kevin Cooper early in the planning stage of an article and we come up with a fantastic idea, such as last year’s &uot;Tomato Time.&uot;

Sometimes we look at the picture later and say &uot;that’s not quite what we had in mind.&uot; And on many occasions we just start rearranging food, clicking away and voila! something great comes out of it.

If you are curious as to who took the photo, if we played with it all or if we broke down and bought it, here is the key to those questions.

Beneath the photo there is something called the cutline credit. This will say The Natchez Democrat and then there will either be one of our photographers names; the words AP or Knight Ridder, if we bought that photo; or the it may say photo illustration by Kevin Cooper.

The last one, a photo illustration, takes a little more effort than most people realize. However, they are usually the ones people like the best. This is when we take a photo and manipulate it with design techniques.

Examples of that are when there are pieces of the photo worked into the letters of the headline or photos are clipped apart and rearranged.

My family manages to get pretty involved in the whole process too. Matthew has been photographed eating, Emily has done some crayon work for me and those are usually Holly’s hands in the photos. It is my husband’s job to taste test the recipes before you get to try them.

As always what you the reader thinks is paramount to us. So let us know what you like or don’t like, or even what you would like to see an article on and we will try to accommodate you whenever possible.

Christina Hall is the lifestyle editor at The Democrat. She can be reached at 445-3549 or by e-mail at