Food photographer Iris Richardson came to the 2013 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP ) conference for tips and connections. Instead, that’s what I got from her. Based in New Jersey, Iris shoots photos for food brands from the multi-national to small artisanal startups. This former chef-turned-longtime-photographer offered some valuable advice for food companies getting ready to translate their good food to imagery:
- Do find a photographer whose portfolio is heavy on food. A smattering of food shots or Instagrams does not a pro make (most often). Home in on those whose style feels good to you and fits with your brand as well as the type of food. See the resources below or search using detailed phrases like “food photographer plated granola.”You never know what you’ll find. Topping my search results was Austin-based Skorpil Photography who didn’t actually have a granola shot but was discussing raw food. Never discount the synchronicity of a random search OR the power of blogging on a variety of topics to increase your search engine optimization!
- Don’t let the photos misrepresent your food. “Make the photos as accurate and true to the food as possible,” says Iris. If your trail mix is short on pistachios, your soup sinks chunks to the bottom, or ice cream light on chocolate, avoid the temptation to embellish to add appeal. In fact, says Iris, the larger food brands may even have lawyers standing by on the photography set to make sure the brands are represented accurately. Even more important: Imagine the food blogger’s disappointment at finding only three measly pecans in your caramel corn and the ensuing brand lambasting.
- Do find a good food stylist. A stylist will make your food and packaging as appealing as possible. Plus, a good stylist won’t overstep the legal boundaries of making the food too different from reality. Most photographers will have a variety of stylists with skills, often with professional training related to the type of food (e.g., pastry chefs who can tame whipped cream with a snap of the wrist). Or you might find a food stylist, like through the IACP’s Facebook page, who can then refer a photographer to you.
- Don’t restrict your search to local photographers. Iris has many clients who ship food to her. She then reviews the photos real-time over a video chat to get client feedback. The wider you cast your net, the greater the chance you’ll find a photograph who can bring your vision to life. Need I say the stylist(s) need to be local to the photographer?
- Don’t skimp. Photos are critical sales tools for new brands selling online! Photographers can be expensive, but you need your investment in your food product and company development to pay off. That’s what great photos are for!
Resources for Finding Photographers
You’ll find Iris at FoodPhotography.com (her awesome domain reinforcing her tenure as a web-savvy photographer!)
Contact brands whose photos you love to ask for referrals too!