With the advent of the new industrialist who focuses on small, artisanal batches of products, thousands of young men and women are hoping to create the next cache brand. The challenge remains: how can anyone focus on the product in the making, the selling of the product to buyers, and the the all-important narrative of social media? Perhaps you pay for a talented team to build your company. Perhaps you barter with equally talented partners who need your skills for their own business. Perhaps you try to do it all yourself and either go without sleep for years. Perhaps you simply fail. For the past two weeks I have been working with a local cider-maker, Mike Kramar, to help define his brand as it starts to hit the busy Toronto market. Mike makes apple cider. He is a bit of a perfectionist. He is a bit of a technical genius when it comes to building a cider that should fit nicely between a great craft beer and a nice French table wine. He is avoiding the cider your father might have drank out of necessity or out of an affinity for British pubs; he has developed a superb product in a competitive market. The task is to create the brand and build a faithful following on the Toronto scene where craft beers reign supreme. I hate cider. My last memory of drinking cider was in Dundee, Scotland. I faintly recall dancing to Katrina and the Waves while wearing blue Doc Martins. I clearly remember the hangover I experienced on the bus ride from Glascow to London. That cider was sweet, light and very easy to drink in gargantuan quantities. Mike’s cider is different. While it is easy to drink, it has balance. KW Craft is closer to a white wine, insofar as their is a sweetness, but it is deftly put into its place by acidity and minerality that I might only usually find in a Pouilly Fumé wine. It goes extraordinarily well with a linguine carbonara or a selection of charcuterie and appetizers. I do not hate Mike’s cider. Photography has been both a passion and a business for me over the past five years. I have slowly built a clientele who appreciate the art of what I do. I focus on small Canadian producers and musicians whose music I love. I see no point for me to work for people who I do not deeply admire for their risk-taking, the attention to what truly matters in this life, and who make something I want to be a part of. Money is nice, but I only dance when I like the beat. When I met Mike at my wife’s family Christmas party this December, I could tell that he was in a position where I could help him move forward. I could tell that he was honest, intelligent and a person with integrity in a world where there is very little these days. Before he decided to chase the dream of creating his own cider, Mike was an engineer. How many people walk away from the secure, safe position to take a risk? I valued his narrative enough to offer up my services once he had his first batch produced and ready for sale. Mike called me two weeks ago. For the past two weeks, I was able to intermittently shoot sessions for KW Craft Cider between a large session I was shooting for Paderno Canada. Working like that is ideal for my process. Creating art requires time to develop an image in my head. I need time for shots like the ones I created for Mike. I need time to consider who might order his cider at C’est What or The Bar with No Name. Who is Mike’s audience and what might they want to associate their lifestyle and tastes with? Thirty odd photographs later, and I think I have built up a solid start for KW Craft’s visual media portfolio. I am proud of this work, and feel it is some of my best. If you get a chance to try the cider, then I would take that chance. As part of my fee on this session I asked for a case to photograph and imbibe over the course of two weeks. That case is gone, but before taking in last night’s John Mellancamp concert I dropped in to C’est What on Front Street to try a pint of the cider on tap. I was not disappointed.