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

Part of a PR campaign for McIlhenny Company’s Tabasco Sauce.
Taking photographs for packaging requires strict adherence to a very precise layout because space needs to be reserved for type and other graphics. When shooting for packaging, the contrast range is lower than normal in order to ensure that proper detail is maintained when the image is reproduced on a variety of surfaces, such as plastic, paper or cardboard.

Generally, the package photo is a close-up view of the product, and in sharp focus. Props are kept to a bare minimum, so attention is on the product itself, but sometimes a little garnish such as a sprig of parsley or fresh herbs will be added to give the product more “appetite appeal.”

In addition, the food stylist always works from the actual product to bring out the best of what the consumer will find in the package. Often, the stylist will open many packages to find the best examples of the product, and then will carefully enhance and arrange the various elements so the food looks its best.

One of my long-standing clients has been McIlhenny Company, makers of the iconic Tabasco Sauce. The photos simultaneously evoke contemporary and traditional feelings. These photos, and hundreds of others I’ve shot for this company, have been featured in recipe cards, newspapers and magazines across the country for more than a decade.

For one assignment, I produced photographs illustrating several recipes using Tabasco Sauce that were distributed to newspaper and magazine food editors. The pictures were also used by Family Features, a media company that widely distributes photographs and articles written by public relations agencies to local newspapers. Newspapers receive the material free of charge, and use it as filler between their own editorial content and paid advertisements. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Tabasco doesn’t pay the price for an advertisement, and the paper receives a high-quality article that’s ready for publication.

Simple textures add to the variety of images for Barilla Pasta. If you’re in New York, you can see Lou Manna in person through Adorama, which frequently sponsors seminars with him.
Advertising, packaging, media and public relations are similar in that they all seek the consumer’s attention. Whether you’re flipping through the pages of a magazine or newspaper, passing by a billboard or surfing the web, compelling visuals are what attract your attention, whet your appetite and pull you into the subject.

Barilla Pasta
Another wonderful working relationship has been with Barilla Pasta, the only national brand of pasta. Barilla’s strategy is to remain loyal to the heritage and culture of Italy, while at the same time strengthen its image with a contemporary branding that communicates the product’s superior quality.

Barilla has expanded traditional methods of marketing pasta through the use of public relations, advertising and innovative packaging. The company has worked to develop a strong national brand identity through print media, an award-winning website, product information sheets and sponsorship of large events such as the New York City Marathon. One of my photographs was used on a banner at the Barilla Marathon Eve Dinner at Tavern on the Green!

Lou Manna is one of the most sought-after food photographers anywhere. You can see more of his work and his blog at his website, www.loumanna.com. His book Digital Food Photography is available in bookstores.


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