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March 29, 2013 at 11:54 AM

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Seattle's Bread Bakers


I had just pulled out of my driveway as I headed out to my first day of shooting on a story about artisan bread and their bakers, and found myself at a stoplight.

I had worked on many food feature stories before and was going to shoot it like I normally would: with natural light only -- just me and my digital cameras.

But at that moment, I decided to challenge myself and shoot this bread story in a way I had not done before. I really wanted to use strobe lights on this story. It was something I loved to do, but was normally used only for my portrait assignments.

So I turned the car around and loaded it up with my lighting gear, determined to try something new.

I kept it as simple as possible and used only one pack (Profoto 7B battery-operated unit), and one head (Profoto 7B head, w/7-inch Reflector) on a single light stand. It took a little bit of time to get the hang of placing the light at the right position, especially because of the extremely busy traffic and cramped quarters of the bakeries I was shooting in.

But as the day progressed, I became more and more comfortable in using the light to help me illuminate my subjects. Instead of the usual straight documentary approach, I adopted a more editorial angle, where my images had more contrast and had a crisp edge to them.

I was very glad I trusted, and followed my vision. I definitely learned a lot and added numerous items to my tool belt for future shoots.


- John Lok / The Seattle Times



JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

With the final batch just out from the oven, Michael Sanders places sourdough rounds out on a table to cool at the Corson Building recently. The 45 or so loaves crackle as they cool down in the dining room area of the tiny, but historic building in South Seattle. Sanders delivers all of his daily handiwork to Sitka and Spruce around 1:30pm.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Michael Sanders, 35, runs a one-man bread-baking operation out of the Corson Building in South Seattle. He's seen with a fresh batch of sourdough rounds that he made recently.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

One Profoto Pro-7B head with a 7-inch reflector was positioned outside of the arched window, and aimed through the windwon and into the building to make the above two shots of artisan bread baker Michael Sanders.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Phuong Bui, right, and Nghia Nguyen, prepare a loader for the baking of another batch of bread at Macrina Bakery in Seattle's SODO district. At left is a massive oven that weighs 40,000 pounds, and is used to perform much of the company's bread baking.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Alfredo Mojarro, a veteran bread baker at Columbia City Bakery, brings out freshly-baked buns from the oven recently.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Lead Baker Phuong Bui joins in as workers form brioche buns for baking at Macrina Bakery in Seattle.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Loc Nguyen unloads freshly-baked bread from a rotating rack oven recently at Macrina Bakery in Seattle.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

One Profoto Pro-7B head on a lightstand was placed at different locations throughout the bakeries to make the images. The light was triggered using a PocketWizard radio remote trigger.

JOHN LOK/ THE SEATTLE TIMES

Rounds of hand-baked sourdough bread crackle as they cool down from the oven at the Corson Building. It's the handiwork of 35-year-old bread baker Michael Sanders.


This player was created in September 2012 to update the design of the embed player with chromeless buttons. It is used in all embedded video on The Seattle Times as well as outside sites.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Evan Andres, owner of Columbia City Bakery in Seattle, says "Seattle is a great bread town. It's a place where bread is appreciated."


Read more: Food writer Nancy Leson's article - ‘Seattle's bread bakers blend science and art for those perfect loaves’

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