offerings from The Root Cafe Dero Sanford

By now, the coronavirus has probably done a pretty good job of pointing out to you how much of our local economy is dependent on social gatherings. That goes for the photography business, too, and local photographer Dero Sanford decided to do something with his sudden bounty of free time. Six days ago, he put out a call on his social media platforms offering to do five free shots of plated food for Central Arkansas restaurants in need of some enticing promotional material. If you’re a local restaurant owner and want to schedule a shoot with Sanford, send an email to 

We caught up with Sanford this morning about the project. 


First of all, it was about 8 a.m. today when I saw your photos of The Pizzeria’s fare, and I definitely wanted a Caesar Salad for breakfast, so thanks for that. 

Right? Yeah, I just had that salad for lunch yesterday. It was really good.


How many restaurants have taken you up on this offer? 

I’ve done three — Guillermo’s, The Pizzeria and The Root. 


Why did you decide to start doing this, and for free? 

Well, I’m one of those businesses that’s completely affected by this. I mean, all my business has come to a halt, so there’s not really that much for me to do. But I do have a skill, and I do know that it can help other people. So I went ahead and just kinda put it out there. We’re all going through some hard times, so if we could all just kinda say, “Hey, I’ve got a skill, if someone needs it, and it’s gonna help them get through this hard time, I’m gonna give that time up.” That’s what I’ve been trying to do, and I’m trying to inspire other people to do the same.

Dero Sanford
The Root Cafe’s Smoked Shiitakes with cornbread, greens and pea relish

If people want to support the effort you’re making here, what’s the best way for them to do so? 

Go out to the restaurants. If you know a restaurant is struggling, like, one that’s just trying to make rent next month, then go out to that restaurant and help them out by just buying some food from them. Right now, I know Town Pump is struggling, so I’m gonna do a photoshoot for them tomorrow in hopes that they can pay their rent.