Recently, I had a chance to photograph the production facility for Seven Stars Bakery as part of my final project for one of my RISD CE photography classes. Lynn and Jim Williams, the owners of Seven Stars Bakery, were kind enough to let me get a peek behind the scenes of their bakery operations. I can’t thank them, and their production manager Sarah Williams (no relation), enough for the open access they allowed me to have.
First, I’ll back up a bit and explain that my photography final is a presentation of photos that tell a story. The photos must be from a shoot that happened this semester (since January) and the subject can be anything. I wanted to find a small business in the MA/RI/CT area that would allow me to get a glimpse of their operations. And what’s more romantic than a behind-the-scenes look at a bakery? Nothing, I say.
Luckily, Lynn and Jim were very responsive to my request for access.
If you’re not familiar with Seven Stars Bakery, they have three storefronts in and around the Providence area. I’ve been a frequent customer of their Hope Street location and I can tell you firsthand that the pastry and bread sold there is amazing. As a result of my customer experience, I had imagined that following the bakers for a day would happen at one of the stores – that I would be hanging with them out back as they shaped and baked. Errrrg … I was wrong about that one detail. Seven Stars Bakery supplies bread and pastry to three very busy storefronts, but also to vendors like Whole Foods. Their baking is done at a production facility just outside Providence.
Another detail that I romanticized is that baking is a leisurely activity that is done during the day. Haha on me. The baking operations happen 24/7, with the prime baking time occurring in the late evening to early morning hours.
When I arrived at the production facility around 9:00 p.m., the first thing I noticed was the wonderful smell of baked bread through the industrial metal door. I was welcomed by Sarah, along with the noise from the fans and the ambient heat from the oven. The first thing I noticed was the piles and piles of bread everywhere! It was like I had died and gone to carb heaven.
For the next hour and a half, I was allowed to shadow everyone who was working that night. I spent time shooting photos of Matt, who was working the big oven, as well as the rest of the crew who was shaping baguettes and the dough for hot cross buns. What amazed me the most was that the artisans who work at Seven Stars Bakery work hard, work fast, and produce consistent results again and again.
Below are a few shots of the baguette process. You can see more photos in my complete photo set on Photos.Frembes.com.