Building of a Tower

Hi All,

I have been shooting editorial for years. The editorial jobs usually are not as challenging as advertising or packaging jobs, but I enjoy them and they help pay the bills. A few years ago, we got a call from our client at Food Engineering magazine, who wanted to shoot something different for his cover—a sandwich. Not really a challenge (I thought) but we did need to bring in a stylist. The idea the client had was a “tower” sandwich, 8-9 in. tall. Now that’s a challenge!


The sandwich would be used to illustrate the cover story, “The Top 100 Food Companies: How They Stack Up.” We would be using a multitude of products from these companies to illustrate the “stacking up” aspect of the story.

It didn’t take long on the day of the shoot to realize we would have to build the sandwich on set; we would not be able to transport it from the kitchen very easily. We had no layout, just a concept and a size dimension for the cover. We built a simple table set and approximated the sandwich size and location, leaving room for the actual products (jars, bottles, food containers, etc.). We also needed room for cover copy and the magazine title.

We chose products by color and texture to balance the elements for a good look, not considering weight. As the sandwich grew taller, the weight was pushing down on some of the lighter and less dense food, so we had to back up and add lightweight foam core and skewers to keep the weight of the top layers from smashing the bottom layers. It ended up being quite the construction project from HinePhoto-Tower-backthe backside!

The final shot took 5 ½ hours to build and includes five kinds of bread, lunchmeat, cheeses, BBQ chicken, polish sausage, tuna, tomato, onion, and bean sprouts…a sandwich only Dagwood Bumsted would love!

All questions or comments welcome.

T. J.

This entry was posted in Behind the Scenes.


  1. Tish September 4, 2014 at 5:37 am #

    Interesting! It was interesting to me that you built the sandwich with art in mind (texture, color) rather than how someone (Dagwood! haha!) might build it for eating. I’d have loved to also see a post of the final magazine cover with the title and text.

    • Tish September 4, 2014 at 5:38 am #

      Oh, duh. I see you used the actual cover as the Facebook tease into the blog. 😀

    • T. J. Hine September 4, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      Tish, I’ve always felt that even commercial photography is an art form and should be treated as such. Balance, symmetry, light and color should be the main components of any commercial job as it is in art.

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