During the COVID-19 pandemic whole areas of our lives have changed. An amazing statistic recently revealed that there has been a 750% increase in searches for take-away afternoon teas.
What has changed in your business? How have you pivoted in these challenging times?
So many have now made the shift to online sales. This has become their norm. Others have no option but to remain in physical premises where takeaway is the solution during the latest national lockdown.
A client’s story.
I recently helped a garden centre to produce fab images of their lovely take-away afternoon teas. They can remain open however the café must remain closed for seated customers. To create some cash flow they have decided to offer take-aways and included are afternoon teas.
To be environmentally friendly they ordered in some great packaging which is completely recyclable. It is ingeniously designed to make sure that the tea is perfect after its journey home.
Overcoming the photographic challenges
On arrival for the shoot, I was directed to a dark corner of the cafe which was out of the way of any customers. Looking at the scene, I decided that the way to go was to introduce some artificial lighting. I often use a Lastolite highlight panel which is designed to be a pure white background for portrait shoots. This is a fantastic large source of soft light, which resembles that produced from a window. I always want the images to look as natural as possible and will mostly steer away from using flash.
It was obvious after the first few test shots that this was not going to work. The light was too harsh and with a dull day outside, the images had a very dark background. This is where it is best to admit defeat to your client and suggest something else.
On my way in I spotted that the first part of the seating area was more like a greenhouse as it was totally glass. I suggested that it would be best to set up there a I was confident that the whole shoot could be carried out using natural light which is always my first choice. The cafe was quiet so this would not cause any issues.
This turned out to be a brilliant move as I was soon up and running producing lovely bright images which is my general style.
The shoot was a huge success, and the client is delighted with the images which they can now use to promote themselves on their website and social media.
Can I help you?
If your business needs marketing images of your take-away offering in SE England, then I may be able to help you too. Just contact me or else use the chat function on the site.
It was perhaps my dream referral when I was introduced by a networking colleague to carry out interiors’ photography for an expanding chain of pubs.
Initially, I was called to a meeting to discuss food photography. (See previous blog post –The Art of the food-photographer ) At the meeting I thought it best to set out my pitch by showing examples of work previously carried out for another pub. Although the idea was to show just the food aspect, their head of marketing seemed more interested in my interior photography. By the time the meeting was over I had confirmation of interior shoots for 8 of their 10 outlets.
Logistics for the shoots proved to be somewhat complicated. I needed to time all of the shoots to occur before each venue had put up their Christmas decorations. As the shoots were for their updated website, they needed to be timeless so full Christmas decor would be inappropriate. This extended to publicity material on display too.
Importance of a brief
For any client wanting commercial photography work, I always ask for a full brief as to what it is they want and how they hope the resulting images will be. This is very important as I need to get to know my client and their culture and ethos.
This is what sets me apart from others as I am tuned to their wavelength. I need to understand the ambience that they wished to create. For the client, the emphasis was that they were family-friendly pubs with an ethos based around excellent customer service.
All of the pubs are quite quirky too. There were lots of nooks and crannies where you are able to get a little privacy. They also have lots of knick knacks about so all those little details were crucial to capture in order to showcase the personality of the restaurant and owners.
With kit packed and post code loaded it was off for the first of a series of shoots. For each shoot I was either accompanied by Rachel the marketing manager or else Ben the website developer. It was not long before I picked up on the consistent styling and branding across the pubs. I started to recognise the corporate blue. This was evident in every location usually in the bar area. Even though each pub had its own unique look and identity, the branding ran consistently throughout the chain. The company that refurbishes all of their premises had done an excellent job.
It was really important to get input from Rachel as she knew what was important which ensured each shoot progressed smoothly. She was also an extra pair of eyes to check all of the details. this is very important when you are engrossed in the job in hand. It would not be the first or last time that I would set up a shot and then find that I had left my camera bag in view. It is always best to check around the viewfinder before you commit to the shot. Other details such as marketing materials that would date the shoot needed to be checked and removed.
Gradually a pattern developed which lead to the photo shoots becoming easier to conduct, manage and overall flow better. Consistency became the name of the game in order to preserve the corporate look and branding throughout all of the shoots. With all of the little details picked out too, it meant that Ben had plenty of material to use to make each of the pubs really stand out.
So, what is the purpose of food photography when it comes to marketing?
This is an interesting question, as things have changed in the last few years. No longer do you find food photography with set up shots, often with fake ingredients – so no more mashed potato ice cream, sauces substituted by motor oil or use of brown shoe polish to give meat that fresh roasted look!
The modern food photographer has to work a little harder now in order to perfect their craft.
You just need a great set up, good organisation and perfect timing to get the food looking at its best.
In the last few years food photography has become very popular. This is in part due to the success of the Pink Lady ‘Food Photographer of the Year’ competition. It has spawned a whole new breed of food photographers. The emphasis is not just on the food itself but to the aesthetics surrounding the plate. They are looking for colour and texture. They use raw ingredients to help tell the story. The rise of social media has helped with many sharing their images on Instagram and for many it is a great hobby.
So, what is the aim?
You should aim to make it look so real that the viewer can almost smell the food and hear the sizzle. For the client they are looking for a realistic representation of their craft. The food should look fresh and succulent. It should look inviting and make the viewer hungry. It should show the context and include a hint of the surroundings – vitally important if you are working for a restaurant.
The context for the shoot
I was commissioned by the Barons Pub Company who are undergoing re-development of their existing website. They had realised during the review that there was a distinct lack of suitable food photography on their site. While preparing for the shoot I referred to the points of culture from the client to ensure that the images fitted their ethos and reflected their branding. For them the importance was to show the food in a way that appealed to families, so they included items from the kids menu. They also wanted to emphasise the surroundings of a friendly welcoming pub. The food needed to be presented in a way that gave a lasting impression.
As the aim was to highlight the food and to make it look very natural, I decided that natural light would play a role in the set up – so found a table close to the window which luckily was north facing. This provided a nice back light to the food, but it was not enough to light the food as I wanted.
The decision was made to add some artificial light which needed to be as natural as possible. This was achieved by using a Lastolite highlight background to give a very soft flood of light. These are designed to be a background for high key portrait photography, but they are also excellent at producing what looks like natural window light.
To fine tune the lighting, I also used some small reflector panels and black boards to remove light where required.