February 20, 2009

How to Make a Pancake

We sat on the couch eating brown rice and salsa. He prefers to smush the rice down in the middle and make a puddle a la mashed potatoes and gravy, whereas I prefer the mix & swirl method.

But either way you slice it, it’s not your normal breakfast.

Pancakes would’ve been better. Warm fluffy pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup or some fresh bananas sliced over the top. And orange juice. Reeeeeal orange juice. And blueberries. Blueberries and raspberries and strawberries. Oh my. Yea that would’ve been better. But for now it didn’t matter.

We sat on either end of the couch with our feet crossing in the middle, and we smiled. We were home. In dire need of going grocery shopping, perhaps. But we were home. And that was all the nourishment we needed at the moment.

As we scraped the last of the brown rice kernels off our plates, we talked about the past five days and what a whirlwind they had been. And we talked about what was on our hearts.

You guys.

You guys are on our hearts. All of you. We met so many awesome photographers this past week who were there at WPPI for their very first time, who are just about to make their very own leap of faith for the very first time. And boy oh boy, did you guys have some questions!

And we get that.

We totally remember what it was like when we were first getting started to have so many questions and no one to ask. And being that we KNOW what that’s like, you would think that we would’ve been better about making sure that didn’t happen to other people. But that’s all going to change right now!

Introducing: Pancake Sessions with J&M!!

Why pancakes, you ask. WHY NOT!? I say. :) Maybe it was because all we had in the house was brown rice and salsa when what we REALLY wanted was pancakes. Maybe we were just really hungry. But the name seemed to stick.

For you long time blog readers, though, I think the name will make a lot more sense. Remember this lil’ ditty about the first time I ever tried to make pancakes for Justin? Just to refresh your memory:

The first set I burned.

And not just that “oh look it’s a little black on the outside but you can scrape it off with a butter knife kind of burnt.” No…it was more like the sound stage of Backdraft where I alone am the heroic firefighter and Kurt Russell is nowhere to be found kind of burnt.

The second set… I burned.
Yea, we’ll just call this one Backdraft the sequel. Y’know but this time with the not so cute Baldwin brother.

The third set actually fell on the floor while I was trying ever so diligently to flip them. Where, they were promptly swallowed up by a hungry golden retriever who apparently did not mind that he had to scrape one side with a butter knife before eating it.

But the fourth set. Oh yes, the fourth set.
They… were… perfection.

Golden brown and light as air. I proudly carried them to the table, and with a flourish of real Vermont maple syrup we were ready to dig in. Yes, practice really does make perfect. There really is joy to be found in the journey.

Yea…UNTIL… we cut into them with said butter knife and soon began to see pancake batter start bubblin’ from the center like Jed Clampett a shootin’ at some food. Oil that is. Black gold. Texas tea.

Now maybe it was the three failed batches of pancakes that came before them, or MAYBE it was the look on Justin’s face as he tried with everything he had to keep from laughing, or maybe, just maybe, it was a lifetime of “I want it all and I want it now” all coming to a boiling point.

But whatever it was…before I knew what I was doing I had grabbed that soggy pancake up by the bootstraps and chucked it, grenade style, out of my left hand, over my head, and onto a nearby wall waiting across the room. Where, as most soggy pancakes tend to do, it landed with a splat and began the long and painful descent to the floor below. Where a hungry golden retriever sat waiting patiently.

Butter knife in paw.

So yea. We know what it’s like to want to do something that seems so simple and so obvious, only to be met with setback after setback. Frustration after frustration. Splat after splat.

Now, I could’ve called up somebody and ASKED them how to make pancakes. But I felt stupid. I felt like I may as well be asking how to boil water. It was simple. It was obvious. It was batter in a frying pan for crying out loud. And who was I NOT to get it? Not to be born with an inherent pancake making knowledge naturally built into my brain. Not to be perfect the very first time I tried.

And I felt so small.

And I think that pretty much sums up how we felt our first year in business. Small. Stupid. Unable to do the Simple. Unaware of the Obvious. But as it turns out, simple and obvious only come with time. With practice. And with having someone tell you “oh you just have to wait until the air bubbles come through before you flip it.”


So there you go. Let the Pancake Sessions be born!!! This is the place where no question is too stupid, no answer too simple or obvious, for the question to be asked in the first place. Because chances are there are a LOT of people out there struggling with the exact same things you are. So we’ll try to do one or two of these a month and post them up here for everyone to see and learn from. Because we’re in this together. We’re stronger together. And we all LOVE pancakes together.

So shoot us an email (we’ve already been getting a ton of these for a while now, so we’ll try to go back and grab some of those as well), leave us a comment, or send us a video with your questions, and we’ll try our best to answer them. They may not always be THE best answer or the answer that is going to work best for you, but one thing I will promise you is that it will always be an honest answer. Because I think you deserve that.

** We think it would be a lot of fun to have some of these be a video Q. SOOO fun in fact, that we are offering a free seat to Spread the Love to the first FIVE people to send us their question in the form of a video! Helloooooo iSight!!

Mmmmmm! Now, pass the maple syrup!

  1. Adrienne Byrd

    Thank you guys soooo much for offering this awesome opportunity!! It is so thoughtful of the two of you to share your knowledge with all of us "beginners"! Now, I know you said there is no stupid question, but I’m kind of thinking this may be the exception!! Assuming you use a Shootsac, and if not, the question may still apply, do you put your lense caps back on when you’re switching lenses at a wedding. My husband and I spent quite some time weighing the pros and cons and finally concluded that the majority vote would probably say "no". We thought it would be too inconvenient and time consuming to worry about the caps. Sorry for the rambling, but I wanted to justify my "less than smart" question! Thanks again guys!! :)

  2. Dawn McKinstry

    I love this!! And I can absolutely picture the entire pancake cooking fiasco (mostly because I’ve had similar cooking experiences when my husband and I were first together. But none as entertaining as this!). And thank you so much for these Pancake Sessions!! My question is one that I’m sure you hear often – how did you get started – financially, how did you fund it? And how did you start getting the word out about your biz?

  3. Feuza

    Good question @ adrienne, I get nervous with putting the caps and losing time as well and also fear scratching the lense. I just want to say thank you thank you thank you. Sometimes I feel so lost and alone in starting this business and I lack so much expertise, I will try and send a video question, and please dont laugh cause lol

  4. Shannon

    This is the most awesome idea EVER! That is why I LOVE CT photographers. Ya’ll are so sweet and so willing to help us newbies! I am so excited for Pancake sessions!!! I will just throw a word out there… white balance… why, how, when… :) Thanks again for rocking!!!

  5. Crystal

    That picture, are you kidding me? I very nearly licked my monitor. sigh…

    I can’t wait to read all of the tips and info on the Pancake Sessions! I’m a total sponge right now.

  6. Kim

    Ok…lets say you were going to a shoot and you could only take one lens..which one would it be? And why?

  7. Jamie Delaine

    You guys are such cute WRITERS! Holy cow! Such a pleasure to meet you both. I can honestly say that the Las Vegas PUG was the most informative talk I heard all week!!

  8. Kricia Morris Photography

    Can I just say again how much I love you guys!? I don’t have a question (I’m saving them all up for Spread the Love! lol) but I want you to know how awesome I think you are! OK, I lied…I do have a question. How do I get a PH t-shirt!?!?! Sweetness!!

  9. Leslie Roark

    I’m SO sad I didn’t get to meet you two at WPPI! It was my first year and I honestly was lost…several times in fact! Anyway.. not sure about questions right now but hopefully in the near future our paths will cross. You two ROCK!

  10. Mary Marantz

    @ Leslie: omigosh, I know right!! I swear if I didn’t have Justin showing me which way to turn I would’ve just sat down and given up!

  11. jenberry

    how do you make EVERYTHING look soooo good. jealous.

  12. Feuza

    Do you know or recommend any photographers in NJ/NY that I can be an assistant to? I really want hands on experience and I have sent some emails out but never a response.
    TX guys

  13. Christopher

    You guys are sure a lot of fun!

  14. Seini Pahulu

    Thanks for stopping by! Lovin your idea of pancake sessions and ur work is incredible.

  15. Treva Tribit Photography

    Thanks for stopping by! We have just ended our first year, and you guys remind me so much of my hubby and I!! Except we have five kids, so the pantry shall have more than rice and salsa. ;) (But sometimes we wait until they are asleep so we can sneak delicious chocolates!) Ok, so how do we take our business from word of mouth, to people know us? I mean, REALLY know us? Hear our name, and go "yeah, heard of them" Talking, marketing not advertising…what is the magic, sweet spot for getting that kind of name?

  16. Treva Tribit Photography

    Got so excited about asking questions, I forgot to leave my info! Bah!

  17. Dawn B

    Questions???? Oh holy moly did you guys just open the flood gates for me! I am full of them (not IT!!!) I’ll try to contain myself with only one….I’m new, still practicing with my camera…..after I feel more comfortable, what should be the next step?? OH, the pancakes rocked!

  18. Maria

    This is so great of you guys! Help in the form of 2 intelligent human beings and not a book, lol. Now, maybe I should start writing my questions down so I can remember them and ask…

    I will be back!

  19. Chris C.

    Thanks for your kind comment! Come back soon…I’ll definitely check yours out!

  20. Lydia

    Why don’t I have a mac?? *runs to look for the video camera*

  21. erica Velasco


  22. justin + amelia lyon

    High Fives to you!!! You both are awesome, and it was great meeting you in Vegas. It was very brief, and we look forward to spending more time getting to know you both. Those pancakes remind me of our 3am breakfasts in Vegas! Too funny. When’s your next trip to CA???

  23. Paige Green

    pancakes are my favorite hobby.

  24. Julie Ann

    i love the pancake analogy! and i also love that you are so willing to help others out…it’s so great to read that all the big-time photographers struggled like i am now with jumping into the photo world. you are always inspiring! :)

  25. niccolew

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Kinda felt like a celebrity was driving through my neighborhood. wish I would have been out on the sidewalk so that I could have said, "hi." Thanks for the idea of pancake sessions. Getting ready to add albums to my product list and I’m scared to death. Maybe I need to have a few pancakes on hand for throwing in those first few days of album design. Any tips for a complete newbie?

  26. Ashley Rose

    you guys are sooo wonderful :) I love this! I always feel like i have the "pancake" questions :) so excited for this!

  27. Gwendolyn Tundermann

    What a sweet (and syrup-y) idea! Looking forward to where this goes!

    Oh, and I am terrible at making pancakes. I just buy the frozen ones now! : )

  28. Lindsay

    Woohoo. Can’t wait for this! LOVE the writing on your blog almost as much as the pictures. Thanks for being inspiring.

  29. April

    What an awesome idea! I can’t wait either. I absolutely love your work and your blog!

  30. Christa

    Happy Pancake Day!

  31. Amanda

    Okay, so here’s a wide-open question….how did you know you were ready to start a business? What made it clear that it wasn’t just a fun hobby? =)

    Were I closer, I would totally make you pancakes…or stand there and help you watch for bubbles, one or the other. ;) HAHA.

  32. Naomi Martinez

    I’m am seriously craving pancakes now, and it’s 8pm!! Great advice, and it certainly puts things into perspective.

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