• studio3z photography {the blog}

    If you have landed here...bless your soul.  Welcome to our little tiny corner of the cyber world, based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Below you will see favorites from our sessions we do professionally, and also loads of personal nonsense that we hope at least will entertain you.  If nothing less, you can keep up on our adorable children.  Really, they are worth the trip back here time and time again in and of itself.

    My name is Jess.  My hubby is Brett.  We are crazy about each other, our 4 babies, and our art.  Welcome to our world.

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Category Archives: baba’s corner

eat to live or live to eat {that is the ?}

Food is an important part of our every day. We typically cook three meals a day at home, and it’s a rare “treat” when we go out to eat somewhere. When I met Brett 13 years ago I was 19 years old, living on my own, and a normal dinner for me was Chef Boyrdee from a can. Brett was 23, had just finished doing some world traveling including living in the Middle East, soaking up the culture and cuisine of Egypt and Israel as well as all around Europe.  When I met him he was working at Barnes and Noble and a  “hobby” of his was gleaning interesting recipes from around the world throughout the cookbook section. While we were dating he cooked for me. Every. Single. Night. After gaining 10 lbs, I realized how different this guy was, and how amazing different foods can be.

Flash forward 13 yrs and 4 kids later.  They’ve been raised to eat anything and must try everything. It’s a rule around here. And guess what? My kids LOVE to eat. We literally have to control their intake, because even things like 4 bowls of salad can be a bit excessive.

We teach them about food. About the beauty in color, nutrition, in flavor, and about how different parts of the world use different ingredients and why. We try new recipes, and also have a nice beefy list of family staples that I dream of them enjoying with their own kids some day.  And all of this? It’s completely a gift from my husband. He’s a brilliant cook. He glances at a recipe and then lays it aside. He uses recipes more as a source of inspiration, because he ALWAYS has his own take on things. And waste? Oh no. Not around here. When the fridge is full and things need to get used, he whips up a concoction using turnips, celery, carrots, peanut butter, and egg- you name it. I kid you not, and it will taste DIVINE.

On any given day Brett may make something Indian, Thai, Nepali, Greek, French, Persian, Middle Eastern, or Italian.

So this post is sort of a stepping stone….Starting at the beginning of the year I decided I really needed to begin photographing his creations. With the chaos of our home, I’m not the best at having a camera handy so I’ve really been trying the last few months to remember to take photos. My food folder was getting rather big, so I chose a few dishes to show you. Down the road I hope to show more on the blog….perhaps share cooking and nutritional tips, recipes, and the cooking process. One thing I really want to do is help parents who feel weighed down with the burden of cooking healthy for their family, because frankly, I get it. I’m the same way. I’m just not wired to LOVE cooking.

Here are some things we’ve made around here the last few months:

Our take on Caprese (baguette, mozzarella, tomato, basil, balsamic and olive oil, salt and pepper)

Brett’s Pad Thai….

Typical weekend breakfast: feta omelet with rosemary potatoes, blueberry or banana cardamon pancakes.

Brett’s version of Moussaka, with a fun wine my sister gave me. I’m the middle of 3 sisters, but certainly not the mischievous one.

Kabob Chicken (that Brett roasted over our fire), with homemade Baba Ganoush, and all the fixins. And yes, Brett is wearing bead necklace that one of the kids made him.;)

Pan steamed salmon, sauteed veggies, and ginger-chili pasta, YUM….ONE of my favorite recent dinners!

Poached eggs, grits, Ezekiel brand cinnamon raisin toast, bacon, and a Bloody Mary.

Quick dinner night…..taco salads!

Another one of my favorites: Persian stew with chicken and oranges….

After roasting and scraping an eggplant, here’s a common lunch staple for us of Baba Ganoush.

Another Brett lunch: boiled eggs, cheese, veggies and a slice of sprouted bread- with horseradish of course.

Skyline Chili is huge here in Cincy, and Brett makes his own that we love. Our nephew Zazi digging in below.:)

Cooking is therapy to this boy….he can spends hours and hours in the kitchen. Although I don’t feel the passion, I can fully respect it. I feel quite lucky to reap the benefits. For his birthday I bought him the above book. I wish I took a picture from the side because the book is HUGE and it’s no ordinary cookbook. It explains in great details all the steps to cooking and the proper way chefs prepare foods. From sauces, to pasta making, to preparing meats, to baking….I can’t wait until that book is worn out from use and I get to try everything. Honestly, I’ve always been an, “Eat to live” person and not a, “live to eat” type. I’m finding the older I get and the more my culinary pallet broadens, I am falling deeper and deeper in love with food. It’s also such a focal point for our family to grow, and learn. We look forward to sharing more of this journey here on the blog.

And did I mention we’re getting this boy a new kitchen soon!?

June 20, 2011 - 12:51 pm

emily - “Down the road I hope to show more on the blog….perhaps share cooking and nutritional tips, recipes, and the cooking process.”

yes, please!

however some of those dishes you shared above seem slightly…scratch that…VERY intimidating

June 20, 2011 - 1:20 pm

admin - @emily- you would be REALLY surprised at how easy it is to make most everything shown here. :) Looking forward to sharing much more!

June 20, 2011 - 1:29 pm

Amanda - Brett and my hubby sound similar in the kitchen…glance at the recipe, and then ultimately do whatever you want. ;) I crack up too because when hubby and I make the same dish on separate occasions, his almost always tastes better. Hmmm, what is up with that? Oh well. I would love to hear more about this baba ganoush…

June 20, 2011 - 1:46 pm

Kendra - Yum! Those dishes look delish. My husband loves to cook, as well. I don’t think I’ve ever commented, but I love your blog! I just started a photography business in SC and I was wondering if you could share some tips on how to start up a photog business? It’s amazing/wonderful that you and your husband are able to do this together and I wish I knew how to get my business rolling.

June 20, 2011 - 1:49 pm

Uncle J - Beautiful post. Beautiful words. Beautiful photos.
I love this beautiful family. And i’m a bit sad i’ve only tried about a third of those menu items :(

June 20, 2011 - 3:23 pm

Roberta - MMMM….can I come eat at your house sometime? Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures with us! I am not a person who loves cooking either, but 2 of my best friends are both the type who, like your husband, can look at a recipe for an idea…but change many things about it and still make it delicious. It’s a blessing to be around people like that :)

June 20, 2011 - 3:23 pm

nelly - Whao, beautiful. I’m a “live to eat” person, so I can definetly understand Brett’s love for cooking. But can he come to France to show to my husband that men can cook, they just have to try !

June 20, 2011 - 3:37 pm

Casey - Wow. This all looks so delicious & beautiful. Lovin’ the images- I can taste the food just by looking at them!! :)

June 20, 2011 - 3:49 pm

Gail - Oh man…I am SO hungry now! Love everything about this post and love that Brett has shown you (Jess) and your precious kiddos how wonderful food can be. I feel like I’m good at cooking yummy dinners — it’s the rest of my day that tends to escape me!

Can you guys start sharing some of your recipes? I’d love to make a Z concoction!!! :)

June 21, 2011 - 4:38 pm

edie wadsworth - Do you have any idea how much I love y’all? I mean, I’ve loved you since the minute I found you but from one foodie to another, this seals my undying devotion.
I may just have to drive to Cincy and spend the day eating with ya!

June 21, 2011 - 4:57 pm

Lora - Gabe’s face in the pad thai shot = preciousness personified! :) Great post!

June 21, 2011 - 6:59 pm

Meredith - I feel like there’s no need to point out how incredibly delicious all of this food looks and how I want to jump into the pictures and eat it ALL.

What I love even more tho, is what the food choices and presentation say about brett’s creativity and intuition and sense of adventure. Who doesn’t love a good zwolinski??

June 21, 2011 - 7:58 pm

Brock - can I come live with you, or a least get food yoda to teach me a thing or two?

June 21, 2011 - 9:19 pm

Rachel B. - My mouth is watering! Everything that you showed looked absolutely delicious! I am SO NOT a cook and my family is not the least bit adventurous. They think that they are pushing boundaries by eating hummus! But I can’t wait read more about y’alls cooking forays and the new kitchen!

June 22, 2011 - 10:39 am

Shannon Selim - As if I didn’t love you guys enough, after this post, I’ve determined you are my soul mates!!!!! ;P (those are seriously some of my favorite dishes!)

June 22, 2011 - 11:42 am

Lana - I can almost smell and taste that chicken+oranges :) We brought back from Fl hand picked oranges and only thing I haven’t done with them is taking bath in orange juce :) lol So. I am getting home tonight and looking up a tips for this awesome dish. Otherwise I am much like Brett, can make a poop taste good, according to my hubby ( Bret ) Can’t wait to read more about food here. Lana. Love your footographik fam :) lol

June 22, 2011 - 12:36 pm

Maya - 1. I’m hungry now
2. Recipes please!!! You know, when you have all that extra time.
3. I love how your kids try it all and like it! So nice to see kids eating outside of the mac and cheese and chicken finger staples. :)

June 23, 2011 - 6:36 pm

gina - ok. seriously. you weren’t kidding when you said you’ve been saving all these food shots!
your post is just as beautiful, the words, the thoughts on food and family. it is just that important and a bond. i know this too.
anyway, awesome post and awesome pictures of food, family, and love!

June 24, 2011 - 9:25 am

April - This blog post made me SO happy. I’ll admit, I’m always checking out the food in your pictures, whether it’s the focus or not. It always looks so delicious! I know, that’s weird, right? Anyway, I’m so glad to hear you’re going to be posting more stuff about it – can’t wait!

June 30, 2011 - 11:38 pm

ashley rodgers - so if you hear a knock on your door and find a random blondish chick standing on your porch (around dinner time…or whenever), it might just be me… :D

July 18, 2011 - 12:31 pm

First floor redo {week one} | studio3z photography :: Cincinnati Wedding Photographers :: Destination Wedding Photographers - [...] be able to take some of our earning to now reinvest into something that he is so passionate about. Cooking. Who knows….perhaps his dream will come true and he can cook for a living [...]

I want only this.

I have a post in the works regarding something near and dear to us: FOOD.

It’s a big post, because it’s something we are very passionate about in our family. We love to eat. And Brett loves to cook. It works out quite nice.

As I was looking through photos this morning, an overwhelming feeling came over me. I feel so blessed. Since I was a little girl I dreamed of a simple life filled with love.

It reminded me of a favorite song by The Weepies….If you haven’t heard it, go give it a listen.

Simple Life

Can I get up in the morning
Put the kettle on
Make us some coffee, say “hey” to the sun…
Is it enough to write a song and sing it to the birds?
They’d hear just the tune
Not understand my love for words
But you would hear me and know

I want only this, I want to live
I want to live a simple life.

I dreamed you first
But not so real
And everyday since I’ve found you
Such moments we steal
Like little thieves, we rub our hands
We hold our hearts between them.
But will you hear me and know?

I want only this, I want to live
I want to live a simple life.

Move on, move on
Time is accelerating.
Drive on all night
Traffic lights and one-ways.
Move on, move on
Parking violations waiting
Turn off the car, breathe the air
Let’s stay here.

I’ll kiss you awake, and we’ll have time
To know our neighbors all by name
And every star at night.
We’ll weave our days together like waves
And particles of light.

I want only this, I want to live
I want to live a simple life.

June 15, 2011 - 10:10 am

Maya Laurent - Love this Jess. Everything about it! I’m working on a food post too…there’s something about family dinners that are magical, especially when home cooked. Love your family!

June 15, 2011 - 10:33 am

Cassie - A-men. Big fan of The Weepies–actually had one of their songs playing during Avram’s birth.

Those salads look yummy.

June 15, 2011 - 10:41 am

Clary - Oh Jess! I’m so excited to see your food post. ps-this song is awesome

June 15, 2011 - 6:52 pm

tracie - Looks yummy. I had to stop by and tell you how amazing I think your photography is. Love your blog. I stalk it often. Take care.

June 15, 2011 - 8:01 pm

Jenny Walters - It doesn’t get any better than this… it just doesn’t!

June 15, 2011 - 11:58 pm

Amber Lykins - Your posts/inspirations/perspectives are such a blessing to me (and many others). I just adore your family, thank you for sharing them. This is one of my favorite songs also, I use it as a mantra when things get chaotic, it serves as a reminder to return to the important and lasting things.


June 16, 2011 - 7:51 am

Rachel B. - What a precious photo! It brings tears to my eyes. Gabe’s little head is almost on the table. So cute. I hope you will take a photo just like this one in another 10 years and marvel at the changes. This is so heartwarming!

June 16, 2011 - 9:58 pm

gina - made me weepie;) i’m admitting i’ve never heard of the weepies and will need to look them up.
a beautiful life and family you have my dear. we really do have all we need, don’t we?

June 17, 2011 - 12:00 pm

Tobi - Hi,
there are so many inspiring posts from you. Great to see that you combine your work with your life.

I would love to come over and eat with you guys!

Greetings from Germany!

uncle “j” visit {film}

Recently, one of the kids’ favorite people paid us a visit.  Uncle “J” time:

June 13, 2011 - 1:36 pm

Uncle J - great trip! miss those kids

June 13, 2011 - 1:52 pm

meghan - where were these taken?? that structure is unreal!

June 13, 2011 - 7:26 pm

Rachel B. - Love the colors and the LOVE! And yes, I must know what and where is that freaky storybook structure.. Too cool!

June 14, 2011 - 12:49 am

Holly - where were these?!?!!?! possibility for our shoot, perhaps…if they were nearby.

June 14, 2011 - 11:14 am

emily - HA! I use to live near that funny structure and everytime I ran passed it I would giggle on the inside.

To the other commenters – it’s on Erie Ave in Hyde Park (maybe Oakley – i’m not sure where the line is in between the two areas)pretty close to halfway between Hyde Park square and Hyde Park country club.

June 16, 2011 - 10:00 pm

gina - i know exactly where you are! i hope you got a chance to stop in and have some goodies while you were there…one of my fav places to sit and sip and chat.

July 24, 2011 - 4:40 pm

Annie - I just saw Uncle J at Comic-Con this weekend! I only know him from your blog, but it felt like I had spotted a celebrity.

April 8, 2020 - 2:08 pm

Proje - Very good post. I like. Thank u.

the old dead grasses {film}

This spring we were cutting down the old dead grasses from last year and the boys were working on it with me.  I suggested they make a fort in the back woods with the grasses.  They asked me to help them out and I gladly accepted.  Our boys help us remember what it is like to be young, carefree spirits.  Deep inside of us all there is the little child we once were that has somehow been overshadowed by the man/woman we have become.  Having these children to cherish, hold, and watch grow up helps us remember what it was like to be young and to stay young in spirit ourselves.  It helps us to realize how fragile and dependent upon one another we all are.  We need to get inside their little world from time to time and learn from them.  We can learn to have a more humble and contrite spirit and lean on each other for support as they do.  Never lose touch with your inner child.  ~brett {baba}

May 26, 2011 - 9:40 am

Cassie - This looks straight out of Where the Wild Things Are. Love it.

May 27, 2011 - 2:53 pm

Patty Mabry your cousin - That last picture of your little boy; what is it? Both my boys sucked those fingers! I love your comment about playing. We forget that we should let go and remember the “child” inside us sometimes. Thanks for the reminder.

May 27, 2011 - 4:07 pm

Katie - It’s so wonderful getting to know your beautiful family through jess’s point of view on this blog. Seeing the same sense of love and wonder coming through in your voice is so sweet. Thanks for posting Brett. It’s so easy to fall in love with the Z family :) (oh yeah, and your film work is gorgeous!!)

May 30, 2011 - 8:30 pm

Gabe - great images and wonderful words. thanks for sharing this Brett.

June 7, 2011 - 8:40 pm

Rachel B. - Oh, wow! How did I miss these? These are so pure and beautiful. Makes me almost long for fall since these have a very autumnal feel to them.

February 8, 2018 - 10:42 am

Kombi Servisi - great images and wonderful words. thanks for sharing