Recently we were asked by one of our clients to fly around the country and photograph their retail stores. How hard could that be?
As always, it's never as easy as it looks. The client requested they all needed to have a consistent look and feel.
If you've ever shot on location, you know this isn't as easy to achieve as one might think. Here were just a few of the challenges we had to overcome.
1. Weather: All the locations had different weather conditions. Some locations were perfectly clear, one location we were dodging thunderstorms, and others were totally cloudy when we needed to shoot.
2. We had only one opportunity to get the photograph: Since we had a number of locations and a tight schedule to keep we didn't have the luxury to wait until the weather was perfect to get the shot.
3. Circumstances out of our control: A number of the locations had surprises. All of the store's exterior lights are controlled by the corporate office.
There was no switch or timer that we could control at the local retail store to turn the lights on or off. For some reason one of the stores exterior lights didn't come on until way after dark. Not ideal shooting conditions. Another location had brick pavers instead of asphalt as it's parking lot surface. Last but not least, one of the stores had a tree planted that obscured the view of the building at the angle we needed to shoot.
As you can see, with the talented retouching artistry of Tiffany Matson, we were able to make the stores look beautiful and consistent.
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!
As we mentioned last month, we've been shooting some projects lately that convey different stories. The concept of these projects has been to entice the viewer with mouthwatering food and invite them into the world we've created.
In part two of our storytelling project, we'd like you to tell us the story instead of us walking you through it. We envisioned a plot that inspired these images. But the story we imagined may not be the story you see. What's your interpretation of these scenes?
We were recently commissioned to collaborate on the launch of a new brand for a major food corporation headquartered in Toronto, Canada. A project of this size requires dynamite coordination to ensure the production goes flawlessly.
In this three-part series, we're going behind the scenes to show you what it takes to prepare for a shoot of this size, what factors are taken into consideration and how decisions are made.
Our first challenge on this new brand launch was to capture still images for a print campaign. The client wanted a dark, rich setting that gave the imagery a dramatic look and feel. This required sourcing a multitude of backgrounds, surfaces, props and accessories. Once everything was pulled together, the client had a wide variety of options to choose from so we could achieve the desired look and feel.
Next, we fried everything from onion rings to mac & cheese bites, beer battered fries to mozzarella sticks and pickles. It was a fried food lover heaven! One of the great things about our commercial kitchen is that we have a commercial hood vent over the stove and fryers. If you've ever been a part of a fried food shoot, you know how invaluable this kitchen accessory is. It can take weeks for the "fried smell" to disappear from the studio if you don't have a hood vent.
Another important factor you must take into consideration when shooting a food product that is distributed to restaurants is serving size. That is why we weigh the product used in every photo. There's a lot of discussions that goes into serving size – is it a shareable appetizer or a small plate? Will it be served at a casual dining restaurant or a gastropub? All of these factors must be considered when plating a product. You don't want to visually over-promise the customer; otherwise, they'll be quite disappointed when their order arrives at the table.
With the first three days under our belt, we had a lot of fun and captured the rich imagery our client desired. Check back in a couple weeks for the next installment in this series where we'll take a look at how many people it actually took to pull off this production.
Until then, enjoy these behind the scene photos!
We're not praying to the fruit god, although it might look like it!
Doing a little last minute refinement to one of the backgrounds.
Props, props and more props!
The Associate Creative Director and his client discussing prop choices for the next shot.
This isn't how you grill your steak?
Fry, baby, fry!
Our food stylist assistant frying up some hot onion scoops.
The beer battered jalapeño bottlecap are ready for the spotlight in the next shot.
Now those are some nice looking rings!
The hero maxi cut fries are on set.
Everything gets weighed, even the fried pickles.
6 ounces right on the nose!
It's all about natural, beautiful lighting.
Tricks of the trade – sometimes we use a sheet of white paper to control the light.
The food styling must go on, even with a bum finger!
This project required the main camera to be locked down in one position. To capture a few different angles,
David hooked up a DSLR to another computer and shot each recipe from multiple viewpoints.
There's nothing like a runny yolk to dip your fries in!
Although you can come close to imitating natural light, that imitation simply isn't the same. The combination of natural light and a long exposure time adds a quality to images you just can't achieve any other way.
When we designed our studio, we knew we wanted to be able to shoot with natural light. As part of the studio design, we added softening silks and blackout curtains to the windows so we could control the amount of sunlight that comes through to naturally light a set.
We recently shot a new line of holiday candles for Trapp Candles, one of our amazing, long time clients. On this particular project, we were challenged to illustrate how consumers can use Trapp's products in and around their homes. We were also challenged to show retailers how they can best display Trapp's products and achieve greater sales results.
We wanted the light in each shot to look natural like you'd see in your own home or in a retail store window. So we used the softening silks to diffuse the natural sunlight while still highlighting the products and set.
You may look at these behind the scenes images and ask yourself, "Why in the world are the table and chairs on apple boxes?" In order to achieve the right perspective between the table, product, and background, we had to raise the table and chairs. If we hadn't done this, we wouldn't have been able to see enough of the fireplace mantel to frame the shot. Just another trick of the trade!
Apple boxes were used to lift the table and chairs.
So many silverware options for our dining room table!
Adjusting the window silks to control the light on the front of the table.
Putting the finishing touches on the set before we shoot the final image.
After David completed the main shot, he moved in and captured a few detail shots.
Wax and wax melter shot.
Putting the final touches on the display image for retailers. This shot will be
composed with another image we shot to create the final display image.
Stacks and stacks of Trapp product!
Retailer display shot.
Some of the most difficult items to photograph are made of foil or chrome.
Here, David works to get the lighting just right on the foil product box.
Final dining room shot.
Final fireside pumpkin candle shot.