The “Making Of” the Time Magazine Article

I’ve had a number of people ask me what it is like to “be in Time Magazine,” and what the photo-shoot experience was like.

Rather than answer everyone individually, I decided to just write a quick “the making of” post here, so that the curious can be satisfied.

What is it like to be interviewed?

Well, in truth, I am used to being the one doing the interviewing, so it isn’t that odd. I know what sorts of questions reporters are apt to ask, and how they are likely to ask them. Besides, I have been interviewed via email and over the phone more than once already, so it wasn’t anything that unusual. (Now, the live radio interview I am doing on Monday for the local NPR station–that is another matter….live stuff always gives me the quiggly stomach!)

Margot Roosevelt, the reporter, contacted me via email. She found a comment I had made on the Locavores website, and she asked the webmistress, Sage Van Wing for my email address. Sage, who has already interviewed me for a book she is working on, gave her the email address and so Margot contacted me. I consented to an email interview, Margot sent a list of fifteen excellent questions, which I sat down the evening after my amniocentesis (those hurt, btw), and answered as fully as possible, which means I wrote poor Margot a novel-length email back.

She wrote right back and thanked me, and said she was going to write the article over the weekend, and that she might contact me with more questons.

The next Tuesday, she emailed me again and told me that the photo editor for the article was going to be contacting me the next day, because she wanted to assign a photographer to come out and shoot a portrait of me for the story.

This is where surreality crept into the experience.

I hate to have my photograph taken.

And I needed a haircut.

And I was just beginning to show I was pregnant.

And I had a zit on my chin.

So, what did I do?

I said, “Sure, give the photo editor my phone number and she can call me tomorrow.”

And then, I panicked.

Morganna and Zak, however, were thrilled.

Morganna, in fact, did not stop bouncing up and down the entire evening. But, even in her excitement, she managed to slow down enough to help me pick out something good to wear that conveyed a laid-back image. She even picked out nice, tasteful jewelry for me to wear.

The next day, I got up, had a leisurely breakfast and waited for the photo editor to call back. I made a haircut appointment for the afternoon, and hung out in my jammies until noon, figuring that editor people are morning people. Finally, I jumped into the bathtub, whereupon the photo editor called me. So, I talked to her while I was in the bathtub. Thank goodness for cordless phones.

She asked what city in Ohio I was closest to, I told her Columbus. She said she had freelancers she worked with in both Columbus and Dayton, and I told her it would be a much easier drive for the one in Columbus to come to Athens, so she said she would call me right back.

I got out of the bath, got dressed, waited around, and then went to get my haircut. After the haircut, I went out and bought make-up so I could cover the zit issues. (Whatever happened to that pregnancy glow? Has it passed me by?)

While I was gone, she called back and had gotten in touch with the photographer, who was to call me. He was going to be in Athens the next day.

There was also a message on the machine from the photographer, Ted.

So, I called Ted back, and he said he would be dropping his kids off at school and then heading out to Athens right afterwards, and that he would be at the house around eleven in the morning.

That was great, except I had a prenatal checkup at that time, but I figured I’d reschedule. (No, I didn’t tell the receptionist that I couldn’t come in because a photographer from Time Magazine was going to be at my house. I didn’t think that much information was necessary.)

So, we got off the phone, and a bunch of thunderstorms swept through our area of Ohio (this becomes important later) and I finally decided to tell my family and friends about the Time Magazine article and photograph thing.

Everyone was thrilled to death.

Which was fine–they weren’t being photographed.

The day dawned, cool and sunny. I got up, bathed, got dressed in the clothes and jewelry Morganna had picked out, pressed and polished for me.

I put on make-up and did my hair, and sat down to wait.

Ted and his assistant arrived on time, and we went up on the deck to scout the location. Ted and Mark moved around my container garden, and set up a corner of the deck as the “studio.” They arranged the herb and tomato plants so that everything looked lovely, moved the table and chair over and then took a good look at me. Ted declared the shirt Morganna had chosen as too dark and too patterened. (It was a denim shirt with a pattern of suede-like brown swirls over it. Very pretty and casual.) “Something lighter, and with less of a pattern,” Ted said definatively, and sent me on my way to dig through the closet.

Zak had suggested green as a good choice, since it goes with my hair, eyes and complexion, so we dug out three different blouses and two t-shirts in varying shades of pale green. Ted’s eyes lit up when he saw the lace blouse and said, “That’s beautiful. That one.”

So, in I went and changed, and switched out the turquoise jewelry for the silver and green amber jewelry.

Then, it was time for me to make up the platter of local fruits and vegetables you see in the picture with me. I used my Gram’s vintage Fiestaware platter, and set up an arrangement of fresh shiitake mushrooms, purple asparagus, tatsoi, garlic scapes, garlic, onions, new potatoes, strawberries and Thai basil. We had unfortunately already eaten the rainbow chard and Japanese turnips, but the combination of colors, shapes and textures was good as it was.

I went back up on the deck and it turned out that there was a technical difficulty.

Remember that thunderstorm I mentioned? Well, Ted’s main camera had gotten a bit damp during the storm, and was misbehaving. So, he switched to his backup camera, a smaller digital SLR (I was drooling over both of the cameras–as I told Ted, I am used to being on the other side of the camera.) He had the lights set up and everything ready, so down I sat, and we started working.

Let me tell you, while Ted made it fun by being really funny and personable and witty–I am so glad that I am not a model or an actor or something. It would work my nerves to have to be photographed all the time. Or maybe, as one gets used to it, one relaxes and smiling becomes more natural. Maybe that is how it works. But I know one thing–I admire the patience of public figures much more than I did before. Their patience and stamina.

Ted teased me about my “Clint Eastwood squint,” and did all he could to get me to open my eyes wider. I told him about how Chef Lipa, in culinary school, a Filipino chef of Spanish and Chinese ancestry, used to tease me about how little my eyes were and how I needed, “a Jackie Chan operation” to deal with the slight epicanthic folds in the corner of my eyes. Retelling Chef Lipa’s antics got us all to laugh.

Those epicanthic folds are the legacy of my mother’s mother–it is the Cherokee genetics showing on me. I didn’t get the pretty skin,or the black hair, but I got the cheekbones and the eyelids. As you can see in the photograph, Ted did his best and finally got me relaxed and smiling, so it all went well.

Then, we went inside and he did some shots in my kitchen, but he was never as happy with those as he was with the outdoor shots.

And that was it. It took about two and a half hours to do the photo-shoot, and even taking into consideration that I am not an easy subject who is happy in front of a camera, and the fact that there were technical difficulties to overcome, Ted made it fun and did a great job.

So, now that I have told you the story, I can tell you what it is like to be in Time Magazine.

It is cool, but not just because my picture is there for the world to see, and I said intelligent things.

What makes me happiest is that I got to talk about the issue of local foods and sustainable agriculture to a wide, mainstream audience. I got to put a face to the local food movement–I got to humanize it for people. I got to talk about an issue that is important to me and a lot of other people in a way, by emphasizing the great gustatory pleasure locally harvested fresh foods bring, that will attract others to the topic.

That is what makes me the happiest about the entire experience. Not that I am in Time, and my parents and in-laws can run about showing off the picture to all and sundry (although that is cool, too and it really makes them happy), but because I got to help bring the message of local eating to a huge audience.

-That- is the best thing about the Time article.


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  1. I would rather have a bikini wax and barbells put in my _________ than have my photograph in a national magazine. (I felt this way even when I was young and skinny, FWIW.)

    Good for you. Brave woman.

    Comment by Tana — June 9, 2006 #

  2. And P.S., you look mahvelous!

    Comment by Tana — June 9, 2006 #

  3. You do look great. I had a photo shoot for Woman’s World magazine (not quite the status of Time for sure, but still a new experience for me.) They took my picture for two solid hours, with the photographer saying “Smile bigger” the entire time. I wanted to scream “This is as big as I can smile” but I didn’t. And I have to admit, he did make me look great. Probably better than I look in real life, but who’s complaining?

    Comment by kalyn — June 9, 2006 #

  4. Your blouse is lovely, you look great, and the food looks yummy. It’s all good 🙂

    Comment by Stephanie — June 9, 2006 #

  5. Well, I think it’s neat that you’re in time and I’m really glad that you got the local product issue out there and that you look great and had fun! And that you’re pregnant. And I learned a new one: tatsoi, looks beautiful and what I read will be very tasty when I find it.
    You are cool.

    Comment by tanna — June 10, 2006 #

  6. You look beautiful! Abundance all around – lovely vegies, your pregnancy, and a welcoming and open smile (acheieved no doubt with much struggle on the part of you and the Time photographers…heh heh heh…).

    It’s nice to have a face to put with the words.

    Comment by Diane — June 10, 2006 #

  7. Thanks, Tana! I understand about your unwillingness to be photographed! I am generally the same way.

    Kalyn–Ted didn’t frustrate me much, but I know what you mean. Hence my statement that those who step in front of a camera all the time have more of my respect than before. It isn’t easy.

    And Women’s World–that is cool, too!

    Thanks, Stephanie.

    Tanna–that is what my daughter has been saying–“You are a -cool- Mummy,” in the Margaret Cho “imitating her mother” voice. (Extra cookies and love to those who follow that statement and know what the heck I am talking about.)

    Diane–eventually, yes, we got that open and welcoming smile. I hadn’t realized how instinctive it had become for me to smile with my mouth closed, if I smiled at all for the camera. This started when I was a kid and had crooked teeth–pre braces. I never quite got out of the habit of looking somber in photographs. Somber, or dignified.

    I’m good at dignified looks, but they are hardly welcoming. 😉

    Thanks–I am glad that folks now have a face (and not just eyes and a kitten) to put to my words. Pretty soon, you may have a voice, too….

    Comment by Barbara — June 10, 2006 #

  8. Great picture, and great message, Barbara!

    Comment by Hadar — June 10, 2006 #

  9. Allow me to add my congratulations on multiple fronts. 🙂

    And, as a relatively recent fan of your blog…lemme
    offer kudos for the obvious effort, insight, and voice you so kindly offer to the gastronomical discourse.

    Comment by Christopher Gordon — June 10, 2006 #

  10. Congratulations on the article. The picture looks really good – that green top is definitely gorgeous.

    Comment by valentina — June 11, 2006 #

  11. You look wonderful! And thank you for spreading the word!
    I’m a newbie and loving it… 🙂

    Comment by Denise in TN — June 11, 2006 #

  12. Congrats on the story!

    Comment by Barbara (Biscuit Girl) — June 11, 2006 #

  13. Wow, you look great Barbara!

    Comment by Shirley — June 12, 2006 #

  14. Barbara – you do glow!!

    Comment by Maureen — June 12, 2006 #

  15. Barbara, you look so pretty like Annapoorna – the food Goddess. The bountiful plate, your warm smile and glow on your face – you really look like a Goddess!:)

    I read the article on Times. From the beginning I was little bit hesitant to participate in ‘Eat Local’ challenge. Because of most of my daily food comes from farway land and the veggies from other part of the country. But I do try and buy good quality, local produce often, particularly during summer months.

    It’s really interesting to read your experience and thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Indira — June 13, 2006 #

  16. Thank you, everyone for all of your kind comments and words. It makes me very happy to know that I have helped make local foods real to a large audience and that my likeness can help convey the good flavors and nutrition that can come from eating locally.

    But again–the best part–is getting the word out to a large audience about local eating.

    Indira–I think that you are still eating locally when you grow your own herbs and vegetables. You cannot get any more local than your own backyard or back porch!

    Mostly, it is about being aware of where your food comes from, and not just eating whatever without thought.

    I never gave up spices, rice, coffee, tea or other things that do not and will not ever be grown in Ohio. I don’t think that the Eat Local movement should be about denial, but about awareness, and learning about what grows where you are, and utilizing seasonal produce that comes from your corner of the world, while still eating more global foodstuffs.

    I like an inclusionary approach to my ideals, rather than an exclusionary one. It is a better way to spread an ideal, really.

    Comment by Barbara — June 13, 2006 #

  17. Got it Barbara. Thanks so much for the explanation.

    Sometimes, I approach things with a view of what you called exclusionary one. Rebel in me I guess. I am trying to be more inclusionary. Boy that needs lots of patience and more open heart.

    Lot of spell mistakes in my last comment, I apologize for that.

    Comment by Indira — June 14, 2006 #

  18. Wow!Congrats Barbara and you look so pretty with that smile!

    Comment by L.G — June 14, 2006 #

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