Even in the most challenging situations, clients expect results, not excuses. A big part of photography is problem-solving. My first shoot for the grocery chain Fresh & Easy was in a less-than-ideal setting, to put it mildly.

I had the opportunity to meet with the creative team of VCG-Kestrel an advertising agency responsible for the Fresh & Easy brand and show them my work. Within a week, I got a call for an emergency image they need in the next couple of days. They wanted me to shoot it at the Fresh & Easy corporate offices so I packed up my gear and as many surfaces and props I could carry. I knew I was shooting loaves of bread but that was just about it.

When I got to their offices, I began scouting for the best place to shoot. I brought my lights but wanted to find natural light, if possible. Their packaging photo studio was a 6’ x 6’ room with no windows. No good. They had some test kitchens but the light wasn’t great and as the sun came around it would shine right in the room. The main office area was a huge room, mostly filled with cubicles. There was an area by an east-facing window that was free of people. I decided to shoot there.

Fresh & Easy bread set-up

The first challenge was the overhead fluorescent lighting. They were all on one switch so we couldn’t turn them off. They were also not the kind that I could just twist the lights out of the socket. Fortunately, they had a pile of black foam-core so we taped squares over the lights to block them out. I blocked all the windows in the immediate area except one and was able to control and diffuse the sunlight with the blinds.

I brought several surfaces and we settled on an aged-looking green one. I had also brought a selection of cutting boards. There were five loaves of bread that needed to be in the shot. The scene was assembled loaf by loaf using three different cutting boards to give the scene some depth. We tried different rolling pins and even had a honeycomb in the scene but decided it was too much. I further shaped the light using various scrims and flags until I got the look I wanted.

Fresh & Easy in-store display by Don Crossland

Files were delivered that day and, within a couple of weeks, the sign showed up in the bread section of Fresh & Easy stores across the country. I was happy with the shot, especially under the circumstances. But, more importantly, the client was happy with the final image and appreciated the fact that I could work it out and deliver what they needed.