Nothing says you love your job then setting up layout that you must shoot the photo to fit. By "shoot to layout" I mean that I created the layout in InDesign with text and boxes as placeholders for some items that would be photographed. Then I took that document and made an overlay for the photographer's computer. With the camera uploading photos immediately we were able see on-screen what the end results would be, in this case, the images below. The top photo is the final layout as published but the photo after that is what was photographed.
 
It's hard to explain but basically I was moving items, like the pencil back and forth for what seems like millions of times to get the desired affect.
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I was able to break out the paint brushes for the next photo! The smallest gestures would alter the eight separate piles forcing me to fix and brush them together again.  Patience was definitely key! Like in the process I explained above, this photo was shot with the overlay of the layout on-screen. As with most plans...they change. You can see in the published version how much the background tile was darkened in post-production to help bring out the slate of key ingredients compared to the photo.

I suggested this concept in the beginning and although it was tougher than I thought to get it all compiled, I'm really satisfied with the final look.
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Exploring new ways to display gardening products is an ongoing process here. After trying small bowls, small scoops and other devices I came across a tear sheet that had fresh spices in brown paper bags. Eureka! This was the perfect idea to show these fertilizers shown below. And with the story being focused on organic fertilizers the brown paper bag holders gave a more green, homey approach I wanted and really displayed the differences in the fertilizers well.