People often ask me why they need a photographer who specialises in food. After all, don’t all photographers know how to take amazing photos? In short, no.
Just like your butcher probably shouldn’t bake your wedding cake, a portrait photographer probably doesn’t know how to make raw chicken look sexy. But a food photographer does.
As with any profession, photographers all start with the same basic knowledge they build their skills around. But that’s often where our shared knowledge ends. In fact, even sharing a house, life, and business with another photographer can result in completely different abilities and specialties.
How NOT to Take a Photo of Food
Have you met Sonny?
He’s my other half (he would jokingly say better half as well, but we all know that’s a lie). He’s also a photographer, and an amazing one at that. He’s especially good at capturing the female form in all its beauty, which is what he does with Empowered by Light. Now, I can take amazing photos of people, but he takes that to an extra level that just amazes me.
You know what he’s not great at though? Food. In fact, a few weeks ago, we were capturing a wedding as Sonny & Kat Photography. I go along as the second shooter and capture the details, often ending up in the kitchen checking out all the food. It was a gorgeous day, and we were both in our element capturing the couple’s special moment. But Sonny tried to take a photo of the prawn entrée.
If you ever wanted an example of why you should hire the right photographer for the type of photo you’re after, this was the perfect example. Unfortunately his photo was lifeless and lacklustre, the incredible food looked dull and unappetising. The chef joked with Sonny and told him not to give up his day job. Which one makes you drool?
Even Sonny conceded, when it comes to food, he should leave it to the specialist.
The Benefits of Quality Food Photography
As I mentioned earlier, we photographers all know the same basics, light, composition, colour theory etc however as a food photography specialist, I have niched in this particular field and therefore can elevate food to that next level where a pet photography specialist is unlikely to succeed. You wouldn’t get a butcher to create a souffle or a painter to fix your car now would you?
For me, my passion lies in the medium of food in all its forms from raw, to cooked, to packaged. This is where I have focused my energies and honed my skills. Because of this, I have an eye for food and packaging that allows me to create nuance and detail in an image that a photographer outside the food industry may not even notice. This means not only more professional photos, but images that people make people crave the food they are seeing.
If you want people to want your product, you need a photographer who knows how to make that happen. Foodie Shots can do that. In fact, let me tell you more about the ways we can get people to crave your products.
Make Your Branding Unforgettable
Have you ever seen a photo of food so delicious suddenly that was the only thing you could think of? So much so you had to eat it to get it off your mind? That’s what Foodie Shots’ photo sessions do with your products.
By spending time focusing on each item, we can put the viewer of the image right there in the photo. We take the time to create real-life settings, building emotional connections with your customer, so they can imagine themselves using or eating the food themselves. Why is this important? Because by connecting to your customer’s emotions, you are inadvertently helping them to remember you as the brand for your particular product range.
This concept, known as emotional marketing or brand intimacy, isn’t new. In fact, way back in Ancient Greece Aristotle was already talking about the power of emotions to persuade. But we’ll talk forms of rhetoric and persuasion in marketing another time. Most important to note is that many big brands have been using their customer’s emotional ties to products for years, so why shouldn’t you?
We can help you do this through food photography or product photography which ties your product to the emotions of memory and desire. Whether that be the golden childhood moments of summer ice cream or the restful calm of a cuppa and a bikkie during some “me time”, Foodie Shots can create images that take your customers to that perfect moment an, in turn, tie your brand to the moment that feeling evokes.
So, how do we do this?
Foodie Shots Knows Food
In The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde penned the line, “I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them”.
If that’s the case, then Foodie Shots is anything but shallow! We are serious, not just about meals, but about food in all forms. In fact, just like any true food fanatic, Foodie Shots are single-mindedly obsessed with food, to the point I have been known to use a paintbrush to ‘dust’ nuts clean. And yes, I talk to my food—it’s part of the artistic process.
More than that, I am constantly learning about new food and experimenting myself. And I surround myself with local foodies and producers, so that my knowledge is as close to the source as possible. This is how I ended up creating our Backstories Blog series, which allows me to champion people doing incredible things in the food and agriculture industry and share their stories with other foodies. I’m also an advisor for Toowoomba Chamber’s Food and Agri Network (FAN), a platform I use to help small business connect and grow in our region.
So why would you trust a non-foodie to bring the best out in your food? They’ll never take your food products quite as serious as I will.
Top-Down Vs Front-On Angle
One of the key difference about my style is that I am a hero shooter. I get in and see the details. When I am not shooting hero there are two other angles I predominantly shoot- Top-Down or Flatlay and Front-on.
Front-on images are great for showing the height of a product. To represent a meal about to be devoured then 45 degree angle works perfectly.
Top-down allows the viewer to see a whole story..what goes into it and by using appropriate props I can guide the viewer around the image helping to enhance the message. I talk about this often in my photography workshops that I run.
By understanding what your message is and what the purpose of the image is we can then determine the composition. This is a conversation I have with all my clients well before the camera is even picked up. This means every photo we create will connect with your audience and urge them to buy or contact your business – in turn increase your bottom dollar. Let’s face it, you are in business to make money right?
The power of a well crafted food photo can suddenly transcend a viewer; they’re not just looking at a photo of a fig cake straight out of the oven, they can almost smell the unmistakable ‘baking’ smell of their childhood kitchen and hear the tinkle and clang of pots and utensils as the baker cleans up. Now their mouth is watering, and they need a piece of cake…and to call their nan and get her fig cake recipe…oh and put your figs on tomorrow’s shopping list so they can make it for Sunday lunch.
You can’t tell me that drip has’nt got you salivating too?
Food Styling Without Gimmicks
When it comes to making food look edible, the industry is filled with unappetising tricks. From the inedible but safe cardboard-and-shaving-cream-frosting for cake, to the nasty and dangerous shoe polish or paint to “brown” meat there’s an endless list of unnatural props to make food look…edible. At Foodie Shots, these kinds of aids are avoided at all costs.
When we shoot your products we want them to be exactly as they would be when your customer is using or eating them. We know your product is incredible enough to shine on its own without the addition of inedible props. So, while we might use a toothpick to stop something sliding or a quick brush of olive oil for glisten, we’re rarely going to change your product out for something else. In the below image, there’s a sneaky bowl propping up the meat to give it more height, and we’ve glazed it with pan juices so it glistens temptingly. That’s it, no nasties.
Going natural guarantees two very important things for you: Firstly, your product isn’t wasted during the shoot. Sometimes, yes, we have to throw bits and pieces away, but wherever possible we keep it edible. This means you’re not wasting product (and therefore profit), and we try your yummies so we can rave about them and become a new valued customer!
Secondly, your product is represented as it actually exists. This honest representation means your customer gets exactly what they’re expecting to get. No misconception of size, shape, colour. Everything remains as natural and truthful as possible. For us, this means we are giving you the fairest representation so new customers can trust you right from the start.
Why Image Editing Matters
Now, while staying natural is always great, there are some things you don’t want to leave as-is. That’s what our technical prowess and post-production editing is for! While I aim to get your images as perfect as possible, there’s always going to be a few little touch-ups done to make it extra perfect.
Foodie Shots works magic in applying special lighting techniques and adjustments well beyond that of the auto correct on the iPhone ;), taking out or adding in an additional sesame seed here and there, and removing anything distracting. After all this is your brand and messaging we are talking about here…I want to ensure your products look amazing and get people to buy or connect with you.
Most importantly, I don’t fix what ain’t broken. If I’ve done my job in the studio, then your images are already amazing, because of your incredible product. All I need to do is make sure it’s the star of each photo. I don’t believe in adding gimmicky filters, because food really should speak for itself.
However there is a caveat here – I need you to provide the most optimal product for me to shoot. If labels are scratched or food is blemished then that means a whole lot more work for me and ultimately that will cost you money in time. However, I go through this with you well before shoot day…that is all part of the service. In fact I really like to get to know your business well before a photo is taken. This way I can then craft your images to represent your brand in the light it deserves.
That’s why you hire a photographer who specialised in food, after all? Because I capture your product in all its gorgeousness without needing to spend hours in post engineering a completely new image—it’s already there to begin with!
Best Branding: Picture Perfect Product Shots
You don’t need to understand the level of madness I go to perfect your images…you’ll likely see it for yourself at your session. The most important thing is that you know when you step into Foodie Shots’ studio or I step into your space, I am there to make your brand shine as bright as possible using my years of photographic and design experience and constantly-growing understanding of food.
If you want a great landscape shot, absolutely find someone who spends all day in the great outdoors. But when you need to make your products unforgettably gorgeous, Foodie Shots is who you should be calling. In fact, have a chat with me today.