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Fatto a mano

Colognese, baker and co-owner of The Village Hearth Bakery and Cafe.

One of the advantages of being a photographer based in Rhode Island is having access to people who do the kind of work our great-grandparents would have understood. Nothing against knowledge workers and technology, you understand—I shoot and deliver digitally after all—but there’s something about people who make and do tangible things that appeals to me tremendously.

So when I discovered the Village Hearth Bakery in Jamestown, it was good times all around: about the best bread I’ve had this side of the Atlantic, baked in a wood-fired oven the baker made himself, and bakers with personalities as warm as their oven. (Apologies to Mssrs. Strunk and White, but I do get enthusiastic.)

Bread cooling at The Village Hearth

The complications of the shoot were several. Bakers start early. Real early. They multitask, so there are several processes going on simultaneously in different parts of the bakery. Different parts of the bakery are lit differently, and as the morning progressed (the shoot started at 6, wound up about 10), the light mix changed: window light, skylight, tungsten, wood fire. I brought a range of lenses: 17-40 f/4, 24-70 f/2.8, 35 f/2; 50 f/2, 100 f/2. I also brought a Speedlite with a couple of modifiers, IR trigger, radio trigger, and a small lightstand. (Be prepared.)

In the end, I used all the lenses but the 17-40, and shot the whole thing in available light darkness.

Hand=made oven at The Village Hearth

Missing an Italian-English dictionary? “Fatto a mano” = “hand made”, which, in this case, applies to the oven and the baked goods. For more images from the shoot, click  here.