Chapter 3. Who's Digesting It: Advertising, Packaging, Public Relations, and the Media
Image is everything in food photography. We are a generation of visual people, and we are naturally stimulated by what we see. Beautiful food images conjure up all the human senses. We can be comforted by nostalgic images that recall our past, and can be stimulated by pictures that present food in exciting, new, and colorful ways. In other words, we respond to images that have appetite appeal and look fresh. Enthusiasm, fun, and spontaneity are contagious, and I try to convey all of this in my photographs.
Among the goals I have for readers of this book is to help them understand various techniques to create successful food photographsand, of course, to attract clients who are willing to pay for them. Naturally, media and marketing professionals understand that food is a pleasure as well as an essential part of life. They use imagery to communicate that messagedrawing us in, and keeping our senses at full attention.
Throwing certain objects out of focus, tilting the frame, soft lighting, and tight close-ups are some of the techniques I use to get the viewer's attention and achieve desired effects. Most of the time, simplicity rules; less is more when it comes to food photography.
Because food is perceived differently among diverse audiences, photographers need to vary their approaches and styles depending on how their pictures will be used and who will be looking at them. Advertising images are designed to communicate feelings and messages that are different from those in news stories and magazine articles. For example, a photograph that was taken for use on a billboard won't necessarily be appropriate for a newspaper recipe section, fitness magazine, or industry trade publication. In addition to factors such as composition and prop styling, there are technical aspects, such as lighting, contrast range, and file size, that need to considered for different types of usage.
This might mean producing several variations of a picturefor example, a "beauty shot" for glossy ads, a version showing explicit brand identification that can be used in trade publications and product catalogs, and another version, in which the brand name or label is only partially visible, that can be distributed to newspapers and consumer magazines.
Because short deadlines and quick turnarounds are common for food photographers, speed and accuracy in a shoot significantly affect the client's profit margins. That's why you need to go into each shoot with a firm sense of who will be "digesting" your pictures. You need to know before you begin what your pictures are going to be used foradvertising, the media, public relations, or packagingto most effectively plan and execute the shoot.
Fortunately, digital photography simplifies the creative process without compromising quality, and it increases your ability to more quickly produce a better picture that's ready to be used commercially.