Our ad agency friends in Chicago have a BBQ client. The art director on the project asked around, "where can I find the best BBQ photographer?" David Morris Photography was their choice. It was a two-day project to get all the styled food shots and product packaging completed. For the styled food shots they wanted a warm dramatic editorial look. This seems to be the food photography trend currently. The end results were pleased clients, some great photos, and a fun shoot. What more can you ask for?
Well, if you're a fan of BBQ anywhere in the world, you've most likely heard of the" World Famous" Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que. They've gotten rave reviews from Presidents, sports stars, celebrities, foodies, and of course by yours truly.
We had the privilege of being asked to shoot their food for the new website. Joe's Kansas City is now selling their world famous Bar-B-Que all over the USA from the website. Now, if you're in Memphis or Seattle and need a great BBQ fix, all you need to do is order it.
This was an especially gratifying project since it's a locally owned company and we're big fans!
Joe's KC came to us and said we want some great photography,
but we don't want our photography to look like all the other companies selling BBQ on the web. We want the photos to capture the authentic and real look and feel of our product. The shots should look as if the pit master just took it out of the hot smoker. We don't want it to look perfect. We want it to look authentic with some meat drippings on the surface, the utensils to be a little messy. We were fortunate to find a hundred-year-old butcher block table for our background. It is 12"thick and three and a half foot in diameter and made out of one solid walnut log. It set the tone for the whole shoot with its authentic wear and cracked surface. To finish out the authentic and real look, we shot with all natural light and let the shadows go a little dark.
Here are a few fun images from behind the scenes, along with a few of our favorite final shots.
Food Stylist prepping the brisket for it's close-up.
David about to get slapped for moving the styled food.
Clients and crew taking a well-deserved lunch break.
My favorite burnt ends!
We recently had the pleasure of shooting for our friends at the Golden Arches again. Over the years, we've shot a number of projects for them and this happened to be the second new product launch we've worked on. Back in the day, we shot a new sandwich called the jalapeno burger. It was spicy!
This recent shoot was a little different from what we'd done in the past as we were asked to capture stills and video of the new BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. The client also wanted us to create a more relaxed, real environment for this project.
To keep the project streamlined and consistent, David chose to shoot the stills and video with the same lighting. He didn't want to change from strobes to continuous lighting, and we were able to accomplish this by using some brighter lights and a shallow depth of field.
In addition to ensuring the lighting was consistent, another challenge we were presented with was to show the product steaming hot in the video. We discussed a variety of ways to do this, but in the end, we just used real steam.
The end results – another successful shoot and happy clients. What more could we ask for?!?
We created a Kansas City looking BBQ joint in the studio!
Shooting handheld stills to add to a more "real" feel to the imagery.
Piping steam in from the back of the sandwich.
Steam, steam, steam!
Our Food Stylist putting the final touches on the product before we start shooting video.
Using our skater to capture nice, smooth moves.
Checking the focus.
The client, Food Stylist and David examining the details on the large monitor.
When you shoot commercial and advertising photography, it is all about the details. One needs to pay attention to the little things to produce an outstanding image.
Although it isn't evident to most people at first glance, you can tell the difference between an image where the details were focused on and one where they weren't when you view them side by side.
Why is focusing on the details important you ask?
1. In many cases, an expert eye up front will save time on back-end post production.
2. Details can help showcase the quality of a product.
3. Details play a part to help differentiate one brand from another.
Some of the details we pay attention to when food is involved are:
1. Ensuring the background and serving ware are clean. No dust, drips, spills, etc.
2. Making sure the design of the food is pleasing. No faces in the food, no tangents, etc.
3. Confirming the correct number of food items called for in the serving size.
Having emphasized the importance of details, you must remember to have some fun on set too.
David with his magnifiers ensuring the gumbo mac & cheese dish is spotless.
Is David making sure the plate is clean or David mooning the crew? You decide!
Our Food Stylist topping a shake with whipped cream. A little photo bombing by the Chef, too.
The sushi is on set and ready for its close up!
Cheesy biscuits. Nom nom nom.
David working with our Photo Assistant while focusing on the lighting details.
Crew & clients on set.
David and the Art Director getting photo bombed by our Photo Assistant!
Looks like the Art Director is brewing up something new for the shot.
You can tell it's the last shot of a project when the wine glasses and beer start appearing.
A toast to a great shoot!
Most photographers can count on one hand the number of times they pitched an idea to an agency and the client went for it. This project was just that!
Our friends at Woodruff Sweitzer came to us because one of their clients wanted to shoot of all the ingredients that went into their product. "Do you have any ideas?" they asked. We said we'd think about it and get back to them in a couple days.
After doing a little research on the product, it seemed to have a very Alaskan wilderness feel. David called the Woodruff Sweitzer team and suggested creating a set similar to a rustic Alaskan hunters cabin, with an appropriately rustic table on which to place all of the ingredients. "What the heck!" David said. "We might as well go for broke and make it look like an old Dutch Masters painting!"
Well, to David's surprise, both the agency and client loved the idea!
Now what? How do we pull this off?!?
Fortunately, the final deadline allowed plenty of time to gather all the props and get the food products researched, ordered and assembled. It goes without saying that adequate time to prepare upfront really makes a difference to the final outcome of a project.
We ordered a rustic wood background, fresh salmon and trout flown in from Seattle, smoked leg of lamb, wild boar prosciutto, venison, turkey, berries, flowers and so much more. We researched and locally sourced the perfect table to shoot on. It just so happened though that the day we went to pick the table up, it was on sale, and all three Kansas City stores were sold out. Fortunately, we were able to find a similar table available in town. Wowza, that was a close call!
On shoot day, everything went flawlessly. The creative team's direction along with David's vision and our food stylist's top-notch styling resulted in a final image that everyone was elated with. We collaborated well and had fun along the way.
David didn't have anything in his portfolio that looked at all like his vision, yet the agency and client trusted that we could pull it off. He will be forever grateful for their trust. This project specifically reinforces that just because a photographer doesn't have an image of a red shoe or kid playing basketball or a "__fill in the blank__" in their portfolio, doesn't mean they can't shoot exactly what you need and make it look awesome.
We truly believe that if opportunities for photographers and agency creatives to collaborate happened more frequently and sooner in the creative process, there would be more innovative and eye-catching advertising imagery in the marketplace.
Please keep throwing challenges like this at us, and we'll keep knocking them out of the park!
David adding some finishing touches to the set.
Our Food Stylist unpacking the white quails she sourced that morning in Nebraska.
Sarah Hunt, aka "The Fish Whipper."
Fresh trout, anyone?
Nothing like a little jump rope with the sausage links!
Putting some final touches on the image in post.
A little input from the creative team.
Working with the wild-life painter to makes sure the colors look right on the new packaging.
We were thrilled to have our friend Steve Sweitzer on set a few weeks before he retired.
David and Sarahs version of the final image.