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Cookie Chaos

‘Baking Christmas cookies’ was the theme of this year’s card. But we couldn’t just take a picture of ourselves baking cookies. We had to have a little fun with the concept. FUN, that is — bolded, italicized and all-caps.

2008frontThe front of the card features our top dog, Huckleberry. The notice on the door hints at what to expect inside.

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Here’s the inside of the card. We weren’t kidding about ‘chaos.’
(Move your mouse over the picture to magnify.)

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And on the back of the card, we discover that a certain federal agency wasn’t amused by Hall & Company’s extracurricular activity.
(Move your mouse over the picture to magnify.)

 

How we made it

Similar to the 2006 card (the train around the tree), this concept required careful planning long before we started shooting photos.

First was a simple sketch, which helped us flesh out ideas for what all thirty-two of us could be doing while working on giant cookies.

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Next the individual sketches were re-drawn with colored pencils, and John used Photoshop to arrange them within the card boundaries.

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2008bts03This year we reviewed a conceptual sketch of the front of the card as well.

 

There were a number of other things to do before photography. We ordered a half-dozen aprons custom-printed with the “Cookie Decorating Division” logo, and sent one to an out-of-town employee. We assigned positions for each employee on the sketched mockup. And John gathered props that would aid in posing, such as a small balloon, a large paper cone, a broom, a 2×4, a pair of card tables, and a short stack of flattened cardboard boxes, taped together. He even cut about fifty two-inch lengths of 1″ plastic pipe, as a stand-in for giant sprinkles.

2008bts04A month prior to the scheduled photo shoot, Hall & Company had moved their headquarters to a brand-new building on an adjacent property, and their old building was not yet occupied, so John was able to set up his makeshift studio there. To achieve the proper camera angle, he would be shooting from eight feet up on a ladder.

 

2008bts05As usual, the shoot went very smoothly. The sketched mockup was used as reference, and reassured all of us that our strange poses were not just for John’s amusement.

 

2008bts06No, Becky Hall didn’t actually hoist her husband on her shoulders. She really, really didn’t want to have to explain the circumstances to her chiropractor.

Photoshop also relieves back pain? Who knew?

 

2008bts07Question of the day: What do you get when you mash together photos of (a) a person holding a balloon, (b) a doll with green and red frosting smeared all over it, (c) yellow frosting on the back of a measuring spoon, and (d) three gumdrops?

Well, if it was any of us doing the mashing, we’d get a big ol’ mess, of course. But John knows Photoshop so well that Adobe calls him for tech support. So the result is a gorgeous composite of Aime with frosting smeared all over her.

(Aime was relieved that we didn’t actually cover her with frosting during the photo shoot. She had anticipated a six-figure surcharge from the dry cleaners.)

 

The image on the front of the card looks simple enough, but John couldn’t find a real door or a stock photo of a door that would satisfy him. With deadlines looming, he ended up with two stock photos, from which he constructed the final image.

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All that work, just for a Christmas card? What can we say — we’re . . . different! 🙂