Arkansas Photographer

Tomatoes: Flavors of Summer

I am an unashamed lover of all things tomato. Well, except for tomato juice. That's just plain nasty.

But give me a vine ripe -- preferably home-grown beauty -- a salt shaker, and I have a meal that's perfect for any time of the day or night.

I typically plant three or four tomato plants each spring. I'd grow more, but my husband is allergic to them. Good! More for me. But honestly, the past two seasons have been dismal when it comes to my tomato harvest. Dismal is a generous term. It was downright pathetic. I successfully grew a whopping three, count 'em three, Purple Cherokees (my favorite) and five black cherry tomatoes.

I'm blaming an abnormally cool April that immediately went into a sweltering May with little rain and it stayed like that all summer long. Even with ample irrigation, my crop was pitiful.

According to Wikepedia, the tomato originated in western South America. While many people think it's a vegetable, genetically, it's a fruit. Tomatoes are the edible, often red, berry of the nightshade Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant. There are more than 3,000 varieties of heirloom or heritage tomatoes in active cultivation worldwide and more than 15,000 known varieties.

Fruit. Vegetable. Whatever you call it, they're downright delicious.

If you had a bumper crop, send some my way.


Tomato cucumber salad:

This simple salad could not be any easier to prepare. Dice up your favorite cherry tomatoes, add cucumbers (something we did grow in abundance this year), add cubed feta and your favorite herbs (fresh thyme and oregano, all home grown) and toss with Italian dressing (Good Seasons seen here) and salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato cucumber salad

Tomato cucumber salad

Slow-roasted Beefsteak Tomatoes

The secret to roasting tomatoes....low and slow. These beauties were roasted on a sheet pan in a 200-degree oven for about two hours. I don't really set a time. I usually eyeball them to tell when they're done. Cut beefsteak, or any large meaty variety, into wedges and arrange on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, your favorite herbs (thyme and oregano), drizzle with olive oil (go light) and a balsamic glaze. Once they're done, add more herbs.

The recipe possibilities for these are endless. After I pulled them from the over, I ate 10 standing over the pan.

Slow roasted tomatoes

Slow roasted tomatoes

Caprese

The only thing simpler than the tomato cucumber salad seen above is caprese: a salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. I sliced up red beefsteaks and yellow tomatoes and added fresh mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil and a balsamic glaze. Garnish with fresh basil.

The red tomatoes came courtesy of my brother-in-law who has a badass garden and grows hundreds of pounds of vegetables a year. The yellow variety compliments of my mother-in-law. The basil came from my garden. I also made four jars of pesto this year, but that's a blog post for next year.

Caprese

Caprese

Bruschetta

Some of the best bruschetta I've ever consumed was in Italy. Ever since then, I've been on a quest to find good bruschetta here in the states.

Bruschetta originates as an antipasto (starter dish) from consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt.

I took mine a step further and topped by adding herbed ricotta, roasted cherry tomatoes and topped with fresh herbs, olive oil, balsamic glaze and S&P (salt and pepper). I started with a good crusty, ciabatta. I sliced it on the diagonal and brushed with olive oil. After a few minutes of stove-top searing, I spread a nice thick layer of herbed ricotta followed with the roasted tomatoes and garnish as desired.

This is perfect starter for your next dinner party or even a light dinner all for yourself.

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

I broke my own rule on roasting for this dish. Instead of roasting low and slow, I opted for high and fast. I cranked the oven up to 500-degrees.

Using my $2.00 flea market, cast iron skillet, I added a variety of cherry tomatoes, peeled, whole clove garlic, fresh herbs and a generous amount olive oil. After only 10 minutes, I finished them under the broiler on high for a few extra minutes. The high heat causes the tomatoes to burst, releasing their juices and making it's own sauce.

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

Once the tomatoes were done, I added a few more fresh herbs and served them atop thin spaghetti topped with shaved Parmesan and S&P to taste. You could also use angel hair if preferred.

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Whatever tomatoes are leftover will keep in the fridge for a solid two weeks. If they last that long.

Commissioned Photo Shoot for Cathy Owen: Arkansas Portrait Photographer

On April 3, 2018, Cathy Owen, chairman of Eagle Bank & Trust, and chairman, president and CEO of State Holding Co. in Little Rock, was installed as the Chairman of the Arkansas Bankers Association. She is also the first female in the 128 year history of the organization to serve as its Chairman. Cathy was featured on a recent cover of Arkansas Banker magazine with an accompanying profile.

Cathy Owen, 2018-2019 Chariman of the Arkansas Bankers Association.

Cathy Owen, 2018-2019 Chariman of the Arkansas Bankers Association.


I first met Cathy Owen a few years prior when I photographed her for a profile for Arkansas Business. Since then, Cathy has been receiving my quarterly e-mailers I send to all my clients. She contacted me back in January to discuss her ideas and desires for the photo shoot. Cathy wanted a clean, contemporary and modern setting for the photos. In addition to photos for the magazine, Cathy requested other photos for various professional needs and we updated her executive head shot.

We chose a glass stairwell located at a privately owned business. The business also had an old banking vault door dating back to the late 1800s. It was a perfect location for the secondary artwork needing for the project.

I scouted the location the week before with Cathy to determine angles, lighting placement and to discuss wardrobe. With the transparent glass that had a slight blue-green tint, Cathy brought numerous clothing choices in varying colors so we could determine which ones worked best against the glass.

Cathy changed outfits four times throughout our half day photo shoot and each one complimented her and the location perfectly. We chose the vibrant red, Eagle Bank red, as the final outfit for the photo against the brass vault door. She is pictured with her husband Steve.

Cathy Owen spread.jpg

I was very impressed with the originality and quality of her professional photography on the 2017 photos she emailed. I couldn’t have been any more impressed with the professionalism and end results of the photography work of Karen and her husband.” -- Cathy Owen.



The glass stairwell had a ton of natural light but I knew that was not going to be nearly enough. I kept the lighting clean and simple: For the stairwell portraits, I used one Profoto B1x with and my modifier was a three-foot Octabox with a simple white bounce. We needed a double arm on the C-stand to safely hang it over the top railing to give the lighting angle I needed.

The headshot was the same setup with an added smaller softbox as a hair light. For the vault, we turned off all the overhead florescent lights (it was in an office) and the key was the same B1x combo plus another B2 bounced into the white reflector to light up the vault door. 

I also used the CamRanger system to proof photos directly to my iPad so Cathy could see her photos and make requests and any adjustments as the day progressed.

Check out a few BTS below.

The Cabins at Lobo Landing | Little Rock, Arkansas Advertising Photographer

Earlier this spring, I was contacted to photograph a series of new photos for The Cabins at Lobo Landing, a premier trout fishing resort along the scenic Little Red River near Heber Springs, Arkansas. The resort recently came under new ownership and the owners wanted fresh and new photos of their cabins along with scenic photos along the river.

The resorts offers cabins in a variety of looks ranging from traditional to quaint and very rustic. Of all of the cabins I photographed, 8 and 9 were my favorites. Most cabins have a private deck with views of the river.

For the lighting, I used a combination of ambient, studio strobes and an Astra light panel. I previewed my images onto an iPad with my CamRanger. I love this little device.

I made four trips to the resort over the course of six weeks to photograph all the cabins. Since this is a popular fishing resort, and many of the cabins were consistently booked, it took several trips to get everything photographed including a very chilly morning out on the Little Red River capturing sunrise and various scenic shots.

Below are some of the cabin highlights.

You cannot beat the scenery and the world-class trout fishing along The Little Red River via Beau's Guide Service.