Behind the Scenes on a Garden Photo Shoot

– Posted in: Succulents


I recently produced and wrote a how-to article on topping pumpkins with succulents, for Country Gardens magazine. The designer we featured is Laura Eubanks, who originated the idea. The magazine sent photographer Ed Gohlich, who came to my home with his assistant, Matt. Ed does many of the Southern CA (and beyond) articles for Better Homes & Gardens’ publications. It’s amazing to watch him work. Like GGW’s Saxon Holt, Ed’s a master at manipulating light. That day, he contended with harsh sun and deep shadows. And Laura…well, poor Laura. Those squash got heavier and harder to hold the longer she stood, smiling bravely beneath my arch, wearing my borrowed hat (which was a bit too large for her).

Pumpkin article, Country Gardens 1

Do you see the worn wood table on the cover? Like the straw hat, it’s typical of the “Country Gardens’ look.” I just happened to have a weathered table in my basement, too. Ed liked its rustic appearance, so we used it. But first, Laura arranged succulent cuttings on burlap for the “materials shot,” below. The light must have been good in my driveway, at least at that moment.

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Also from my basement we unearthed two wooden fruit crates that date back to my parents’ avocado ranch. Here, Ed’s doing a tight shot of the project while Matt evens out the light.

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Laura’s teenage daughter, Hannah, sat on the driveway and watched.

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Below, Ed’s shooting the “beauty shot” of the finished pumpkin, which is on a table in my garden. I provided glasses that glisten. Trust me, this looks a lot better in the magazine!

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Here, per Ed’s instructions, once again Matt’s manipulating the sun. The other side of the big rectangle is shiny. Good thing it wasn’t windy that day, ha.

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To get the right angle, Ed shot the tabletop from midway down the slope. Hannah, though sitting at the table, wasn’t in the shot.

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I hope you’ll look for the magazine when in line at the supermarket, and that you’ve enjoyed seeing this bigger—but by no means better—picture of what went on behind the scenes. Also, we’d love to know what you think of the finished article!

Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored the Timber Press bestsellers Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified. Debra is a regular contributor to Sunset and other publications, and her own half-acre garden near San Diego has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens. Debra specializes in showing how to use architectural, waterwise and easy-care succulents in a wide variety of appealing and creative applications.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin

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Lisa at Greenbow August 6, 2014, 6:39 am

I just read this article in CL mag. It was very interesting. I love the use of all of those succulents on the pumpkins. It would be impossible to collect all of those succulents here in SW INdiana. If you could find such a beautiful array of succulents they would be too expensive to use like this. I love the look. I really love seeing behind the scenes of the shoot. So much work goes into these brilliant articles.

commonweeder August 6, 2014, 7:54 am

I guess this explains why my point and hope photos are less than stellar. Actually I helped at a dawn photo shoot once and got to hold the light reflector – a piece of shiny thermax insulation. This is very instructive. And fun to see.

Gabriel T. August 6, 2014, 9:26 am

I bet the magazine will look great ! Everyone did a good job, even Hannah who sat on driveway and watched, haha ! Nice article.

gail klien August 6, 2014, 8:54 pm

very informative, unusual take on presentation. Thanks!

Paul August 7, 2014, 9:09 am

Perfect photos! It’s so nice to see pictures like these in the Garden! They are enjoying while taking those shots!

Carole West August 9, 2014, 6:08 pm

This is great always fun to see what goes behind the scenes into a photo shoot. Looking forward to the article.
Carole @ Garden up green

Robin Ruff Leja August 11, 2014, 8:15 pm

What fun it was to look behind the scenes of a magazine photo shoot! I get so frustrated while taking my modest photos and admiring professional shots. But perhaps it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, they just use better tools!

Hanna @ August 17, 2014, 4:26 am

These behind the scene photos are great. Just for a couple image inclusions in the magazine, it takes a lot of time, energy and works involved. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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