Behind the scenes of our photoshoot with Parents magazine

We started and ended the day in the yard; a team of twelve and one heck of an ambitious shoot list.

The day began slowly: we discussed our plan of action over cups of coffee while the morning sunlight warmed our backs. The day ended hastily around 4 in the afternoon, as the pitter patter of rain fell around our heads and we dashed to get everything  –food-equipment-children –out of the rain. It was an unforgettable day, for all sorts of reasons.

But let’s back up for a second. You may be wondering what is involved when booking a photoshoot and story with America’s largest parenting magazine. Did they just drop a comment one day on my Instagram and say ‘hey wanna work together?’. Uh, no. There was much more to it than that.

Here’s as much of the story as I can remember, and a bunch of iPhone photos from our homestead on that warm August day.

Simple Bites shoot with Parents magazine

How it all started is a story worth telling for the sake of all the authors out there – and really anyone who makes themselves vulnerable for their work. I was in Brooklyn for a book signing event last February as part of my cookbook tour. I had a talk planned, I had prepared some sweets to sample, and my fantastic publisher had provided wine for all.

Everything was shaping up nicely when a major winter storm blew in during the afternoon, and the freezing rain and brutal conditions kept all but about 15 people away. In a publisher’s (and bookstore’s) eyes, the event was a flop. I still did my talk and signed a few books for those who braved the weather and came out. Although numbers are important, the connections made with real people matter so much more to me, and I’m glad I got to meet and talk to each person who showed up.

As it turned out, one of those in attendance was Jenna Helwig, food editor of Parents magazine. She had been invited by our mutual friend, Stacie, and had just picked up my new book. She met my children that night, who had their noses in books most of the time, and I introduced her to my agent. To make a long story short, Jenna followed up shortly afterwards and requested an interview for the Parents blog. As it turns out, she’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I was happy to oblige.

After some back and forth (this part is a bit fuzzy) Jenna declared she wanted to pitch a story about our family food culture to her editors – for a feature article in the print magazine. As they say, the rest is history.

Behind the scenes for the Parents magazine article: Simple Bites: Recipes and Tips From a Yard-to-Table Family

We began brainstorming via email and on a secret Pinterest board. We came up with four or five different story ideas and a handful of recipes that could work for a summer issue. I sent the editors on a virtual tour of our urban homestead, as well as a copy of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars for referencing. Once we got the green light, I signed a contract and went straight to work developing the recipes.

By early June, the test kitchen at Parents had my recipes.  I write for a specific audience, as do they, and they tweaked the recipes slightly to meet the needs and skill level of their readers. I am extremely proud of the final results – a vibrant soup, an addicting crunchy salad, a healthy fruit spread and a gorgeous peach pie that feeds a crowd.

All of the recipes can be found in the June issue of Parents magazine and on Parents.com. I hope they inspire you!

Photo shoot with Parents magazine

Around the same time, we penciled in a few days in August to shoot the story, and then began brainstorming for a crew. I worked with the talented Lily Alt, who is a photo director at Parents, and we sent each other approximately seven hundred emails. Or at least it felt like that many!

I really wanted to work with my friend, food stylist and fellow Montrealaise Christelle of Christelle is Flabbergasting and was thrilled when she came on board. She brought Janice from Kitchen Heals Soul as her assistant, and together they made sweet music in my kitchen.

Fortunately, we were also able to secure the incomparable Tara Donne (pictured above in shorts, instructing Mateo on how to be a hand model) for the photography; Tara keeps so busy and I was thrilled when she added Montreal to her agenda. Tara and her assistant, Kyle, were both an absolute pleasure to work with. And the results? I mean, look at this slab pie. And those sweet hands, too!

Behind the scenes for the Parents magazine article: Simple Bites: Recipes and Tips From a Yard-to-Table Family

Which brings me to props. Stephanie Saunders took over half of my living room with her gorgeous collection of food props. Linens, bowls, platters, utensils, wooden boards and everything you could ever wish to dress a table. We connected over a mutual love of food props – and food!

I love that Lily, Tara and Stephanie included a few of my own items in the styling. It makes the story that much more personal. That’s my slightly warped baking sheet in the photo above.

peaches

These two boys of ours did so great – once they were assured they didn’t have to get changed in front of the wardrobe stylist. They rocked bare feet and their usual tousled hair for the shoot, as well as some cute threads from Zara and Gap.  Most of the time they ran around like hooligans, but occasionally they posed to hold a chicken or wash peaches.

Behind the scenes for the Parents magazine article: Simple Bites: Recipes and Tips From a Yard-to-Table Family

It was such a hot day; that much I vividly remember. And this crew worked their butts off.  At lunchtime we flocked in to the air conditioned house and proceeded to chug all the cold brew, Rise kombucha and maple-sweetened Bec Cola possible. (I did my best to introduce the NYC/Brooklyn crew to a few of our local brands!)

Lunch was semi-catered from my favourite butcher along with my fresh-picked garden produce, heaps of pickles and other goodies from my pantry. Oh and two exquisite Fraise Maman tarts for dessert from the one and only Mamie Clafoutis. (Since this is truly a behind-the-scenes post, I’ll state for the record that the magazine covered the costs of all the catering.)

Parents magazine shoot

That afternoon we wrapped up all the food images first and then moved on to lifestyle: feeding chickens, pulling carrots, eating pie. Just before that, we all went through hair & make-up ‘lite’, as I called it, because I really wanted us all to still look like ourselves, you know?  I don’t wear much make-up on an average day, and since this photo shoot was capturing us at home, in the yard, it made sense to keep everything light.

The stylists did a great job pulling my outfit together. Clara basically looked adorable in everything, but I tried on at least 10 outfits before we settled on a pair of cropped Marc Jacob pale jeans and a cute striped top.

Aimee Wimbush-Bourque Parents magazine shoot

One of the last shots of the day was a family group shot, which should be simple enough, right? Wrong. Kids know when they are put on the spot, and (unless they are professional models) will react with goofiness. And how!

 

As Danny, the kids and I gathered on our little garden bench, a small throng of crew members gathered opposite us to observe (pictured above). The extra attention from all these relatively unknown people only made Clara act up more, as anyone with kids will understand.

Aimee Wimbush-Bourque family Simple Bites

Clara scampered up and down the bench, stopping occasionally to give me a kiss and mess my hair with her sticky, peach-covered hands. Such is the glamorous life of this story’s food blogger! Tara was giving commands, as was Lily; Jenna had a few suggestions, and everyone else looked on bemused (or annoyed, I could’t tell). I was sweating, I tell you, especially when the rain clouds started rolling in and blackening sections of my lawn with ominous shadow.

The final image (bel0w) that made the cut is a funny one. Clara is trying to escape my clutches, my hair is a hot mess, Danny looks like he is steeling himself to endure to the end, Mateo is gazing off camera and Noah is chortling to himself at the silliness of it all. Yep, this is pretty accurate, and how it should be. We’re just a very normal family; no child models here!

Behind the scenes for the Parents magazine article: Simple Bites: Recipes and Tips From a Yard-to-Table Family

Honestly, it was such a privilege to work with a team of this calibre. Jenna did such an incredible job writing the article. Tara and Lily’s collaboration on the images really paid off. Christelle and Janice prepared the food so beautifully and really made my recipes come to life.

Would I do it again? Sure. Someday. But only with a team such as this one. Honestly, there is so much work that goes into a 6-page spread like the one we put together and I couldn’t imagine doing any of it with ‘difficult’ people. You know the ones!

If you’re in the United States, you can find our story in the June issue of Parents magazine. Canadians and International readers, you can find an excerpt and the recipes on Parents.com. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

It’s not everyday that the family and I are the subjects of a magazine spread. Ask your questions below and I’ll do my best to answer them!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Lauren Estes says:

    How fun!!!! Congrats! 🙂

  2. What a fabulous experience for you and your family! Thanks for the ‘tour’ – it’s always interesting to see how these seemingly simple magazine spreads are created.

  3. hey girl love the post! Congrats on being in the mag!

  4. This is so beautiful Aimee, I actually kind of teared up. I’m so thankful to know you and proud to call you my friend. You’re my daily inspiration, and I mean that with all my heart. Love you.

  5. Frederique says:

    Awsome! Congrats! It always makes me giddy when i realize yet again that we are fellow Montrealers! I used to drink Rise Kombucha all the time until I started making my own!
    And we live right near the Mamie Clafoutis on the Plateau, it’s our favorite place for pastries and fresh bread – when i don’t make my own! I wish I had the possibility to have a life akin to yours… chickens, a garden, plenty of time for fermentations, canning, cooking, baking! I have no yard unfortunately at the moment, and work + 2hrs transit a day means I have very little time for being in the kitchen! I do take some though, I agree it is important to make as much food from scratch, and to feed the family well! Glad you are living the life you wanted 🙂

    • Lucky you, living in the Plateau. That’s where we started off, before kids.
      And homemade kombucha? Good for you! You’re one step ahead of me there.

      • Frederique says:

        We are looking for a house outside the plateau as we already have a 5.5yrs old and want a second 😉 But yes, the plateau life can be quite fun!
        YES for homemade Kombucha! Let me know if you ever want a SCOBY (and instructions!), it’s easy to take care of and provides a ton of yummy, probiotic effervescence! And well, Rise just doesn’t make watermelon/mint or pineapple/ginger kombucha! 🙂

  6. Love all this behind-the-scenes! Your family is just beautiful. Looking forward to checking out the spread next month!

  7. This looks like so much fun and what an amazing experience! The family photo is absolutely gorgeous and you look so beautiful, Aimee, so clearly hot mess hair suits you! 🙂

  8. It’s great to see you get more publicity! I love it when Canadian bloggers are being heard outside of our humble country.

    It did bug me that they didn’t use the props you already owned. I know you said they accented with some of your items, but that feel disingenuous to me. Were the props used at least in your family’s style?

    • I see your point, Amie, but it didn’t matter to me if their props were my style or not. They have a style, a ‘look’, to their magazine and it’s their prerogative to stay within those guidelines. It was their story, not mine, to tell. At least that is how I felt! 🙂

      And yes, hooray for us small Canadian bloggers getting a little international exposure.

  9. This makes me amazingly happy. I love that you’ve had the opportunity to share your family’s simple food philosophy with a HUGE audience. I don’t subscribe to Parents, but I’ll surely pick up this issue. That peach slab pie looks phenomenal and something my kids would love to be a part of cooking. LOVE!

    And – kudos to you for keeping this story to yourself for the last 9 months. It must be such fun to see it in print (or screen) and remember back to how it all came together. (Hopefully the stressful parts have faded away over time.)

  10. So much fun seeing you all ‘behind the scenes’. It’s interesting how many people it takes to put together one article. I hope the plug for your book will boost sales 10 fold!

    And…Clara does a fine job with your hair!

  11. What a wonderful (and exhausting) experience! I remember years ago, my husband was SO mad when a TV crew took over our house to do a bedroom makeover show and forced him to be on camera! Your family looks like they had quite an adventure and hopefully they took it in better stride than my hubby did! 🙂 Thank you for sharing the back story – it is amazing how much work and how many email exchanges went into making it all happen. xo M.

    • Wow, that sounds interesting! I think once you give a team like mine or yours the green light, we’re committing to some on camera action.
      Thanks for reading!

  12. Thanks for that beautiful recap! I am the owner of a kids’ brand and my family got to experience something similar to this (but on a much smaller level) for the TODAY show. I loved reading your detailed account of how it all came together. You have a beautiful family and story!

  13. I cannot stress how much I absolutely adore your blog. I am only sixteen years old and spend my spare time trying your recipes or reading your blogposts. I’ve been following this blog since last August and religiously read each post. Thank you so much for the great content!

  14. So fun and exciting. Congratulations! 🙂

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