Thursday, September 17, 2015

BBQ Pulled Pork Heaven

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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Finding Your Unique Visual Language


Early in my photographic career, two of my photographer friends were out on a fine art photo trip and I suggested we all take a photo from the same tripod holes.  I wanted to experiment and see if we all saw the world in the same way.

To my surprise, all of our photographs looked completely different.  We all have, what I call our own "Visual Language".  Everyone sees the world in their own unique way.

I recently took this a step further and looked to see if there were any similarities between my personal fine art photography and my commercial photography.

What do you think?

For those of you just getting started, the process of finding your personal "Visual Language" will take some time.
The best way I know to figure this out is to shoot, shoot, shoot!

The other advice I have that has helped me figure this out is, print out little thumbnail prints (no more than 2x3 inches ) of your favorite images.  Lay them out on the floor and start putting the images together that look and feel similar.  This will help you start seeing your own "Visual Language".
  
    











Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Details, Details. It's All About the Details.

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.

If you're wondering about detail number three above, you wouldn't believe how many consumers count every single piece of food in a photo and complain if they don't get that many pieces!

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!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Dutch Master Inspired 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 Sarah's version of the final image.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Launching a New Brand – Part 3

Thanks for joining us for our final installment in this three part series on launching a new brand. If you've followed along, you know that we've discussed what it takes to prepare for a large photo and video shoot, how many people it actually takes to pull off a production, what factors are taken into consideration when planning and prepping and how decisions are made on set.

One of the components of this multifaceted project was a video to announce the launch of the brand into the marketplace. Our client challenged us to capture all of the following in a two minute video – the ease with which a number of their products could be prepared, customers in a restaurant enjoying the prepared products and multiple testimonials from actual brew pub owners talking about why they liked and used the products.

Add to that a script that was still in flux days before the shoot began, some extremely short deadlines, the logistical aspect of shooting at four locations, confirming models, extras, food recipes, props, etc...you get the idea. While it was a lot to wrangle, capture and edit, it was a challenge we were totally up for!

Shooting in the studio and on location in Kansas City, Grand Rapids, MI and Springfield, MO, we captured days of video footage. We can't say enough about how wonderful the video crew, food stylists, production coordinators, talent agency and others we're surely failing to remember were, and how they were the ones who really made this large production come together.

A special thank you to Isaac Alongi who DP'd, edited and colored this video project. Without his talent and flexibility, the end result would not be nearly as beautiful as it is.

It truly takes a village, and we've got a great one surrounding us!


Our Assistant Food Stylist making sure we have enough fries in the bowl before shooting begins.

Getting the thumbs up from talent!

Our Food Stylist putting the final touches on the hero plate of food.

The Associate Creative Director reporting back to his team at home on how the shoot's going.

Making sure everything is lookin' good on location in Grand Rapids, MI.

We used a two camera set up for the Brew Chef interview videos.

Q&A with a local Brew Chef about why he uses these products.



video

A fun little clip of David directing the talent...or was it him just
saying out loud what he needed his assistant to bring him?


 Launch Video
Click on the image to play the launch video.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Launching a New Brand – Part 2

In our second installment of this series, we're highlighting what it takes to work on a new food product brand launch.

You've heard the saying, "It takes a village," but what does that really mean? Well, a recent shoot we did required the combined effort of all of the following people:
  • Artist Representative
  • Production Coordinator
  • Photographer
  • Photographer's Assistant
  • Retoucher
  • Food Stylist
  • Food Stylist Assistant
  • Associate Creative Director
  • Art Director
  • Account Manager
  • Brand Manager
  • Client
  • Craft Services Crew

That's a lot of cooks in the kitchen (pun intended)! But every one of them plays an integral part of the production. As a studio owner and photographer, it's David's job (and pleasure) to see that everyone works together to accomplish our primary goal. Over the years, we've been lucky enough to work with great clients and crews to produce superior images and have some fun along the way.

Check out some of the behind the scenes images from the new brand launch shoot. And be sure to check back for the third installment of this series in two weeks.

Our smiling artist representative busy lining up the next shoot.
                                   
What's everyone looking at?

Which version is best? Decisions, decisions, decisions!

The Associate Creative Director and client discussing composition and product placement.

Our food stylist and her assistant deciding who gets which beer after this shot!

Hitting the pitcher and it's not even Beer 30 yet.


Let's move this over here just a scosh.

Jeez...the photographer is touching the food.

Not ready to wave the white flag just yet!

"What do you think?"
"I don't know, what do you think?"

"Here, let me help."
Oh crap, the photographer is touching the food AGAIN!

We even capture these images on our trusty iPhones.