Nov 26, 2013

Alvey's Candies

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100. Photography's greatest gift is making pictures of chocolates!
When I was in high school, my pal Jenny and I spent our evenings after school working at Michelle's in Colorado Springs. We entered the cafe and confectionary shop at street level, meandered passed the candy counter, grabbed a taste at the ice cream counter, stole a fry from the kitchen, and washed our hands in the sink at the back. Then we roped up and rappelled down the stairs to the dungeon basement. Well, we didn't actually rope up, but the old stairs were so steep and slippery with chocolate crumbs and kitchen grease and ice cream toppings that it really felt like we should be lowered down on a winch for safety's sake.

Having descended into the very bowels of the city, we put on our aprons and hair nets and turned on the flickering light over our work table. In the next room the ladies were running the conveyor and dipping the chocolates and putting them on big steel trays to cool. Our job was to transfer them to boxes for storage until they needed to be packaged for sale. Our process was something like this: soak hands for several minutes in a bucket of ice water (mustn't leave finger prints!), grab two chocolates, put in box, grab two more, put in box, oops dropped one, put in mouth, soak hands, repeat. 

During the various seasons we specialized in different kinds of candies. We made a game of figuring out what the abbreviations were supposed to be. Ch'Butter was a favorite. Ch'Bacon would be a hit, we were sure. We also explored the truly creepy limestone caverns of the building and wondered what skeletons were hiding in the shadows.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.
Michelle's is closed now, but imagine my excitement when Alvey's Candies in Richmond, Utah called and asked me about making pictures for them to use on their website and marketing materials! We chatted and I was proud to know something of the production process and talk about how we could make the pictures look tasty. Finally, we made a date, and I headed to their facility in Richmond, with my pal Bob on hand to help.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.

If my experience at Michelle's felt like working in a dungeon, then walking through the doors at Alvey's was like entering the Pearly Gates. It's a bright building, and though it's packed to the gills with milk chocolate and dark chocolate and cashews and peanuts and pecans and cherries and mints and creams and everything nice, it's also clean and well kept. The contrast with my experience was incredible, and it was a joy to work with the Alvey's team, too.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.

We setup our studio in the shop and made pictures all day long. They just kept bringing out mouthwatering candy after mouth watering candy. I felt like I couldn't make a bad picture.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.

Finally, we finished making pictures, and Bob and I departed with plates full of delicious samples ("Uh, I touched this one, too--better send it with us at the end!" ;). It was a good thing, too, since those candies kept me alert during the drive back to Lake Oswego, Oregon.

I hope you'll call Alvey's this holiday season for some of your gifts. They have some terrific boxes for companies, too. I mean, nothing says, "I love you" like a box of delicious chocolates.

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