Oh I can’t afford that for photography, how can it be that much?
I don’t really need pro photos, my photos are ok aren’t they? Yes! Say all your friends and family who aren’t your paying customers. Of course they do, they love you! But the trouble is they won’t be in every day, it’s the rest of society that you need to invite … and that takes brilliant imagery, not almost good enough pics.
Let me explain. When you come to me, you are coming to a specialist food, drink & hospitality photographer. I live and breath what I do, I invest heavily in what I do, so I have a 1400 square foot studio packed to the rafters with backdrops, props and equipment.
I’m not a wedding, portrait or events photographer who has ‘transitioned’ to food over the lockdown in the hope of finding a way forwards. I’ve been in the industry a whole lot longer than that and I’m continually learning new things, creating new ideas and taking what I can offer a long way further.
Research before the shoot
I don’t just show up, take some photos and present them later. I go over the brief in detail, I ask questions, oh hell can I ask questions …. It’s not about pestering the life out of you, it’s about getting to know what makes your business tick, about who your ideal customers are, what it is you need the images for.
Your shoot may be for a marketing campaign, but why? What are the images meant to do? Without this knowledge it’s really hard to develop images specifically to fit the remit.
I’ll then go off and do lots of research and come up with a raft of ideas that I think will work for you.
What comes with me to a shoot
When I show up there’s always me and my assistant, and a heap of kit. Yes there’s the camera’s and lights you might expect but there’s a food styling kit box, some backdrops incase they are needed, spares of just about everything, and some props that might just come in useful. That takes time to select and pack before I leave and to put away safely when I get back. The selection is different for every shoot.
I bring reflectors (to add more light into a scene) and scrims (to lessen the light where needed). A tripod or two and the list goes on. If we need funky flying objects there’ll be a lot more kit besides. I do prefer to do funky stuff in the studio but sometimes its not possible so I have the kit and generally it can travel with me – though I may need a large van soon instead of an exceedingly big estate car.
Then when we work together, I won’t just shoot each item and go. I work to get the ‘money’ shots, but then I look for other opportunities to create amazing imagery for you. I really work with light, natural or flash to bring out the vibrance and colour in your food and drinks.
Once the shoot is done, the images are backed up both in the studio and online, this can take quite a time…
So it’s never a case of just showing up, taking a few snaps and hey presto you’re done. When the images are safely backed up then I cull through to choose the best images and I do initial edits in Lightroom or Capture One before finalising them in Photoshop.
Quite often I’ll have several images that are merged together (it’s called focus stacking) to create a single image that is focus from front to back. Or perhaps we only had one of something but needed two or more in the image in which case again I’ll merge several images to make the final one.
Editing can take at least as long as the actual shoot, sometimes longer depending on what is needed.
For editing you need some pretty meaty gear depending on how in depth your work is. I have iMacs, MacBookPros, wacom tablets, screen calibrators, a raft of hard drives, and then all the software with which to process images. None of it is cheap. There’s an argument that suggests you don’t need top of the range gear and any windows box will do, I’d counter that with the fact that while my macs may be a substantial investment, their longevity beats twice and thrice over the lifetime I’ve had from Windows machines over the years, so I’ll not be going back.
So this is why it costs so much
All of this adds up, the knowledge and experience, the time, the gear used, the replacing of gear, and the acquisition and building up of knowledge. And there’s a huge amount of time that goes into each and every shoot.
Great images are created they don’t just happen.
Photography is an investment NOT an expense
I think the difficulty is that Photography is often seen as an expense but it should be regarded as an investment and a one that has a great ROI. Very often budget is used up in getting a product ready for market, and little if anything is left over for photography and that’s such a shame. It shouldn’t be a case of ‘how much’ but one of realising just how much goes into the work.
The most attractively designed website and lovely branding will all be for nothing if it’s accompanied by half-baked images that don’t showcase your products properly. Badly lit or badly composed photographs mean that fab copy you had written won’t be read, people will just keep on trekking past.
If the images you use don’t enhance your brand then they are doing your brand a disservice at best and possibly bringing the value of your brand right down. Is that what you want?
It’s time to think about photography differently.
If sales are slow and your images aren’t good, those two facts are very much related. If people see your food and are turned off by it, they aren’t coming to buy any time soon.
If however your food images stop them in their tracks, and make them feel hungry and your images are better than the competition, then you are going to see an upsurge in sales – as long as the rest of your service matches up to your branding as well and the food is as good as you say! If you persuade a photographer to make your food look better than it is, you are setting yourself up for failure! You need to deliver what you say you will, and authentic photography is the only way forward unless you’ve already made it and people know you don’t mean what you say – do you want to be that person?
If you’d like to explore how I could help you attract more customers in and get a great ROI then please get in touch.