Miami-based commercial and editorial photographer James Jackman hit a milestone last week, headlining the food section of The New York Times as well as making the front page of the newspaper itself for a major commissioned article on the diverse bakery scene in Miami.
James has a special ability to harness the vitality and passion of human endeavors. He truly sees the beauty in a team coming together to produce something small, yet remarkable, and this comes through so strongly in his work that you’ll soon be considering a trip to Miami to tour its bakeries.
I had a phone call with Gabriel Sanchez prior to shooting. He explained that the story was quite large and that I’d basically be shooting a mini feature on each of ten bakeries.
Over the course of six days, James zigzagged around Miami to photograph each bakery during their most bustling times.
I blocked out two-hour windows for each bakery and covered two in one day at most. A lot of the action happens between six and ten in the morning.
The article, written by reporters Brett Anderson and Christina Morales, highlights how the diversity of Miami, which has some of the most thriving Latin American and Caribbean communities in the country, has resulted in a highly rich and eclectic bakery scene.
[Brett and Christina] provided some brief insight as to why each bakery was included and what they might be interested in seeing photographed. This was very helpful in narrowing my focus to those key items written about in the article.
There were many bakeries to choose from, but the ten selected provide a beautiful sketch of this unique flavor of Miami, a city where it’s possible to buy fresh empanadas at the grocery store and Jamaican beef patties at gas stations. James worked with the reporters beforehand to understand their vision for the piece, but besides a general outline, everything that unfolded was spontaneous.
Not a single shot was planned in this whole feature! This was all very reactive. A time and date were set based on each bakery’s preferred schedule, but I showed up with no prior scouting.
Since James lives in Miami, this was a wonderful chance to grow his knowledge of his own city and try out some of these gems for the first time. He soon learned that the hype around these well-known spots was not exaggerated and well deserved.
I was really surprised to see the line of customers outside Knaus Berry Farm. I arrived at 6 am and saw a long line of people waiting outside. People are really that fanatical about the cinnamon rolls and will even camp out overnight to keep their spot in line.
This week of bakery-hopping made James feel more connected to his community; he even made a new friend, Jesús Brazón of Caracas Bakery.
I met Jesus for the first time when I went to photograph Caracas Bakery and we really hit it off. It turns out we have many friends and interests in common, and even plan to work together in the future!
It goes without saying how much James enjoyed sampling all the baked goods. As if a whole week of pastries wasn’t enough, he’s become a regular customer at several of the bakeries.
I got turned on to bakeries I’ve never heard of before and have been back a few times for the guava and cheese danish at Madruga.
James’s first collaboration with The New York Times was only a month ago, making this milepost in his career all the more impressive. Having landed two other assignments for them in the past two months, he is quickly becoming the go-to photographer for the Miami and greater Florida area.