Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Take A Bite

Adding food photography to your repertoire can boost your marketability. Lou Manna literally wrote the book on how to do it.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Simplicity is the key to emphasizing the main subject.
The Digital Reality Check
Advertising, media and public-relations clients have a lot invested in their products, both financially and emotionally. As a result, they can be very literal in their demands for the final image. For example, clients often want to include too much in a photo, or sometimes don’t understand the needs and realities of different media usage.

Battling that literal nature is the photographer’s plight. Saying “I’ll do whatever you like!” is often the best way to begin your relationship with your client. Diplomacy, patience, humor and depth of understanding go far in determining the best way to convey an image.

As a digital photographer, I’ve been able to reduce the amount of negotiating I have to do with clients in order to give them the pictures that best suit their needs. Digital photography enables me to show clients what they think they want to see and then show them what works better visually. It’s absolutely true that a picture is worth a thousand words—everyone reacts to visuals! The picture is most often the hook that draws attention to an ad, article or product package. Important differences in the purposes and needs of advertising, packaging, media usage and public relations dictate the approach you’ll take in your digital food photography.

Although these photos had a stylist, an editorial shoot usually doesn’t have the budget for one, so you need to be able to act as your own at times.
When taking photos that will be used in advertising, you aim for perfection in every aspect of the shot. Advertising pictures are designed to depict the product in an ideal state to entice people to buy a product. These pictures can be placed in a wide range of media, such as magazines, newspapers, TV, posters and the Internet. In addition, these images also can be found in many other kinds of media, such as product brochures, restaurant menu boards and retail point-of-purchase displays.

Food manufacturers invest a great deal of money to generate customer loyalty and establish an emotional bond with the consumer. There’s far less creative freedom in advertising photography than in shooting for media or public relations. Advertising photographs, as well as photos used for product packaging, must explicitly reflect the art director’s vision and layout without deviation.

Art directors create the concept of the shoot, after which a photographer is selected and the creative process begins. Food and prop stylists create the perfect look that will grab the audience’s attention. In especially large or high-budget projects, the stylists might in turn hire additional staff members.

Advertising involves far more intense attention to every aspect of the food, props and lighting than any other area of photography, and is by far the most labor- and time-intensive. The art director and client are almost always present, and provide nearly continuous input and feedback during the shoot. The food stylist and prop stylist constantly adjust and fine-tune the food and set to ensure perfection in every detail. Although advertisements must always show the real food, it can be tweaked and accentuated in appearance.

Product Packaging
Packaging is designed to convey the “personality” of the brand, and food-product packaging is an art form unto itself. The package is what you face at the point of purchase. It’s the hard sell. The image and brand awareness have to shine brightly. Imagery, color, logos, words and graphics all work together to create a selling package. Photos on food packages have been steadily increasing in size to increase the “saliva factor” and grab the consumer’s attention.


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