The food photography industry is big business. Companies spend large marketing budgets to make their food products look their best and use those images in advertising campaigns in various ways, getting as many people as possible to see their tasty bites.
But sometimes, more often than not, food being photographed is not a true representation of what is actually bought and consumed.
Recently, Burger King is being sued because the photos in their adverts show their burgers look much bigger compared to what customers purchased in stores. This isn’t the first for Burger King.
In 2012, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority cited the company for burgers that had height and thickness that were “considerably less” than those in its commercials.
It’s not just Burger King, I would say this is standard practise with only a few exceptions. I can speak on this issue from a personal perspective as I have worked on many food photography shoots.
Using something like card board or tissue paper to prop up the food making the pile of ingredients appear bigger or even using hairspray, glue and varnish to paint onto the food making the colour look more appealing.
Food styling has many varied tricks to use on-set which can ultimately be for a good reason.
When on a food shoot, there is time needed to set-up all the equipment, balance all the lighting and camera settings, add props etc. When all elements are in place then the food can be used on the photography set, this doesn’t mean the shoot is close to being finished, it’s just getting started.
The people involved can see what there is to work with, all those elements need tweaking. It can take hours. The food looks old, dry, stale, or melted within 10 minutes or less. That is one of the reasons why these tricks may be used, photographers need the food to look fresh for as long as possible. Why not if it’s to make the food look better?
It’s the sort of thing that happens on all photo-shoots with a team of people each trying to work towards beautifying the object or person being photographed. It happens in the fashion industry all the time. There’re often calls to stop photo-shopping images because it sets an unrealistic standard for people to live up to, nobody can be that beautiful, not even the models themselves. What I don’t hear so often is the call to stop make-up on photo-shoots. To me, this is the same issue as using tricks to make food look as good as possible.
Should there be big changes in the photography industry? I think it has started already with society changing in many ways and brands being expected to keep up with consumer demands.
Why not show consumers exactly what they are paying for even when it looks unappetising?
That could be the problem.
I am not offering the answer to the question about should all tricks, either pre-production or post-production be allowed or banned. I would say that it happens on every single photo-shoot, it’s either all fine or it’s all wrong. If there are changes to be made, big cogs turn slowly and the photography industry will get better in time. For now, the tricks to make food, products and people look better in photography when compared to reality are here to stay. Let’s try to appreciate the art of great content that photographers, food stylists and marketeers create and give praise where it’s due.
If you like, please visit my Instagram profile to see more work. Phillip Pilkington Photographer.
Words and Photography created by Phillip Pilkington 2022
RESEARCH PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY
When browsing images online, you will notice the vast difference in images. On social media, some brands will take images on mobile phones, maybe do a few tweaks to the photographs, add filters etc. They may have built up a following and for consistency it works best to stick to that style of photography. Sometimes this type of photography is the best option.
Some brands hire professional photographers for all of their social media content, in order for each post to look as well presented as possible. Some brands use a mix of mobile phone photography and professional photographic images, there’s as many different strategies as there are individual businesses.
When it comes to other types of marketing, photographs used on websites, web banners, print media, or even billboards. These are more than likely professional photographers work, and when the business has invested in professional photography, these assets can be used for social media marketing also. To get maximum usage out of the images created.
Businesses that don’t use professional photos for the products or services could be losing out to their competitors that have a more professional appearance to their target audience.
HIRING THE RIGHT PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHER
When a business is looking into hiring a photographer, there are many photographers to choose from, and if you approach any of them I am sure most would say they can do the work. My advice is to look at the previous work, their portfolio. Look for the style of photography that would best suit your business needs. Does your business sell cosmetics? Look for previous shoots of cosmetic products.
One area of product photography that is often mentioned is working with shiny products, or even chrome products. An experienced product photographer would have worked with these types of products many times, if you hire someone who does not have this type of experience, there’s a good chance that the image wont look as good as it could do.
AMATEUR VS PROFESSIONAL PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY
For a small business that is trying to save money, it is tempting to take on the multitude of tasks yourself. If you see a professional photographer at work, you can see that they have done shoots thousands of times before.
They know what changes need to be made to improve the images, they know when there’s some bits to change in Photoshop. They own expensive equipment that will have the quality that smart phones don’t have. Specialist lenses, tripods, lights, and hundreds of little things that a amateur wouldn’t even think of getting.
You’ve spent months developing your product and are ready to start marketing it, so you decide to hire a professional product photographer. But how can you be sure that hiring a photographer is worth the expense? Read on.
PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHER REQUIREMENTS, ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
There are 2 major skill-sets when it comes to appreciating how good or how experienced a photographer is: the technical & creative skills and the managerial and administrative skills.
Communication is key, ask the important questions that you need in order to make the shoot a success. Ask about the years of experience, not always is it the case that a photographer who has 15 years of experience is better than a photographer with 5 years experience, but it does show that they have a wealth of knowledge to reply on.
What shoots have they worked on before, and who was it for? If the photographer have worked on brands that are not widely known, they may of only worked for smaller businesses, if they have multiple shoots for recognisable brands, they they may have had experience shooting for large companies or design agencies.
You can ask about equipment used, but unless the client understands the equipment mentioned then this may not be the best question. But it is something that determines the cost, and therefore the value.
What’s included in the cost, some photographers offer a day rate, and you get their time, equipment, skills for that day. This can also includes the pre-production work. This may exclude image usage costs. Is there equipment hire needed for the shoot? Shoots that require a studio, extra, or specialist equipment is something that may increase the costs of a shoot depending on the needs of the shoot.
The cost could increase if you intend to use the images in many different ways, e.g websites, banner ads, print ads, TV ads, billboards. Some photographers don’t charge extra for image usage, best to ask these types of questions when looking for the right photographer. Other photographers have post-production included in the cost, but it’s not an infinite amount of post-production, best to ask questions on this to find out what is it you are getting.
To find out more about copyright topics when using photographers, it’s worth visit AOP website (Association of Photographers). They have detailed information regarding the legal side of copyright law in regards to image usage.
Find out about the photography team, is the photographer working alone, or are they hiring an Assistant Photographer, or a stylist, production staff etc.
What time would it take to complete the work? Great question to ask for the client, knowing the turnaround time can be crucial. If your business needs a very quick turnaround time there may be an increase in costs to make this happen quickly.
How many images can be created per day? It’s such an important question, the answer is it totally depends, it depends on the type of photography required. Food photography can take a long time to work on because each photograph takes time, and the food preparation takes time, how long does the food take to make? A question the food stylist could answer. Most product photography timing can be worked out easily, e-commerce photography is relatively quick compare to creative photography, plain background or many different props? Just another factor to consider.
One thing that is worth noting, photographers are business owners, the more work you ask for the higher the costs are going to be.
Although product photography may seem like a simple process, it is in fact a complex design task that requires preparation and keen attention to detail.
Photography sessions are both a process and an art. There need to be many pieces of the session puzzle in place for it to go smooth: from having the right equipment and ability to use it, to setting up lighting, using correct poses/product placement, asking for direction at the right time, taking product photos and positioning them in all possible scenarios.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST PHOTOGRPAHERS?
This may seem obvious, because you found this blog post. The No.1 place to find photographers is a Google search. Best to type in the specialism your seeking, e.g product photographer, or include the location also. Product photographer Manchester. Go through the list, looking at each one, the first page is going to have some great options, if you really want to do a in-depth search you can peer at the second page of Google. Take a look at the work on these sights, reach out via email with all your questions ready. Get some prices and see which ones can work within your budget.
The next best place to find a product photographer would be Instagram. It does seem to be more difficult to find a local service when using Instagram’s search tool. However you will find the best photographers, they just could be in another country.
Word of mouth has always been a reliable method of choosing a photography service, if you know other people that have hired photographer before, reach out and asking about their experiences. I suggest you always do your own reach also.
Most businesses seeking a photographer will have a budget to work to before speaking to anyone in the industry about costs. It is worth thinking about how did you come up with the budget number? Most photography clients have a pre-conceived idea of what a commercial photography shoot should cost, with no prior knowledge of hiring a photographer.
One comparison that I think people could refer to is, how much does it cost to hire a wedding photographer? Most people over a certain age have been married and hired a wedding photographer and can get a good understanding of the costs involved. From my experience I would say that commercial photographers are cheaper then wedding photographers. It is a good starting point and if the photographer you want to work with is out of your budget, it is always worth asking questions to see what can be done with the budget they have.
A large company that needs to hire photographers can browse the market of freelancers, or it could look into a large photography studio or agency. When a studio scales up and hires many staff, the costs increase for the clients, but the turnaround time is usually decreased. It depends on a clients needs, if a business needs thousands of product images every month, then a large photography studio with multiple full time photographers is going to be able to handle requests like this.
PHILLIP PILKINGTON PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES
Phillip Pilkington is an experienced photographer, ready to help your business. We take pride in our service and offer high quality photos with a quick turnaround time and transparent pricing. Give us a shot, and see how your product will look through a professional lens.
I am wanting to show some watch photography images I worked on recently. I actually completed this work around 4 months ago but time is needed to be given to the clients to use the images before I post the content online. I was asked to shoot a range of smart watches produced by the brand Watchd. The products are heavily influenced by the Apple iwatch. They needed product photography to show off their watches, the product images are one of the main marketing tools used for many brands, the images are used on their own website, on other e-commerce websites, social media marketing, email marketing, print advertising, the list goes on.
These images were taken in a photography studio setting, I shot again a white background and a dark grey background. These options allow for the obvious white or black backgrounds, but also for any other colour or background imagery can be used, like the examples shown. I have chosen bright contrasting colours with a pastel type tone, this is to make the colours really stand out and the viewers who have an increasing short attention span will be more noticable.
All of the angles of the images were chosen by the clients. One of the difficulties on this shoot was that there was many colour options in the product range, for e-commerce photography consistency is key. Swapping the product out for another colour option when shooting in a studio is very difficult, matching the angle exactly. I have the patience to do this type of work, but the products weren’t the same size on each colour variation. Mainly the straps. A fair amount to photoshop work was needed in order the straps stayed consistent. All the photography and retouching took about 5 working days.
Let me know your thoughts on this photography, or if you would like to make a request of the subject matter of my photography blog please let me know.
I was asked to shoot for a local Vodka brand called ‘Monk’, They needed content making for their social media and google ads etc. There was a lot of variety to the content which is great. MOst of the drinks photography I did was studio based but also when on several Manchester location shoots for these brand images.
I have more images than what is shown here on my Instagram page.
Chrome products are difficult objects to photography, but these are on another level, so much retouching to get this look. Shoot for Remington.
Remington RX5 head shaver on broken glass
When setting up this shot, the social media team asked for it to be shot straight on camera view onto broken glass. Well the glass was super hard to break, couldn’t smash it. In the end we used a nail and a hammer. I set-up the lighting and the camera in the studio, the shot wasn’t working to start with. When seen straight on you couldn’t see the reflection, it didn’t look like it was on glass.
I decided this shot can work but we need to change the camera angle, it took a while to change the set-up completely but we got the shot and I am well happy with it. A bit more edgy look for the Remington Brand, but it works.
The image will be used in various ways, but the image was created on an editorial photography shoot for trade magazines, online use, etc.
Advertising photography taken by me… Phillip Pilkington. Manchester based Product Photographer. Elbow Grease, cleans stuff well.
To do this image I photographed the bottle on it’s own with no hand, I did a focus stacked image for maximum sharpness. Then I took a photo of the hand around the bottle for a separate shot, made it all work in photoshop. Job done.
I did actually have a blue background for the image, I also did a white background option on the day.
To see the behind the scenes photo of how this image was made please visit my Facebook photography page.
I have been shooting the Remington Advanced Coconut Therapy range of haircare products. Quite good products to work with, the strong colours help these types of electronic product ranges stand out. There’s some chrome elements which need careful lighting treatment in the studio.
Hair dryers seem to be more difficult to photograph then the other haircare products like the wands or straighteners. The studio set-up images can be seen on my Facebook photography page.
I did a shoot before lockdown of the new Remington Hydrolux hair straightener. It has a unique feature which is steam comes out as your using it on your hair. The feature has a open outlet where the steam comes out and this aspect is something that needed to be shown well in the photography.
When the straighteners are closed you can’t see the shape of the outlet well, so I needed to do a composite image, I photographed the straighteners open, then photographed them closed, each time doing an image stack to get high quality image. I could then use the open image where the light was able to shine on the bottom plate showing the shape of the outlet, combine that image with the closed straightener image for the final result.
It took a fair amount of work but I managed to get what the product team wanted and now this image can be seen on the packaging artwork and used in other marketing areas, advertising, social media etc.
Check out my other social platform profiles
I worked on a food shoot in Manchester with a food stylist Tom Citarella which was a Christmas food shoot, not too over the top on the Christmas props which is something that I think works well.
The food is mainly a Wellington, not a traditional one but Chef Tom was telling me how it’s not really a Wellington but it has to be called something. All the normal trimmings around it which helps frame the shot nicely.
Can be tricky to get the over head shots but the big camera stand comes in very useful for shots like this. Also because of time restrictions I used the same lighting set-up for both the over head view and the lower angle too.
I have included BTS images to show how the shot came together, the set-up used etc, take a look at my Facebook page to see more BTS images. The images are used for brand marketing and social media uses for Russell Hobbs new product.
I have worked with Tom Citarella on many shoots and would recommend using his services to other photographers or events, he even does food demo’s.
Check out my other social platform profiles
New images of Slate art by Loving Slate based in Southport UK. I took the photographs of their art for commercial purposes. The day consisted of shooting flat copy style imagery of framed wall art, their was around 20 pieces. Then we went outside to photograph the sculptures, we did it this way because it had been raining, and it did continue to rain on and off which did make things a bit difficult.
I am happy with the results. This was a repeat shoot for this client so I think they are happy with the photography too.
If there are any topics around Commercial Photography you would like me to blog about just reach out and I will be happy to engage. Thanks, Phill.
I am starting something new. Motion design.
I chose to start this other aspect of creative industries because I thought it could compliment my photography/video business services. This video is an early example of what I can produce currently, I will be getting more proficient as time goes on. I realise these things take a lot of time to become an expert. But I am happy with the results. Keep an eye out for more of this in future.
Oil and water Photography
In this video I show you how to do oil in water photography at home. The results are abstract, strange, beautiful and almost space like in results you can get with only a small amount of photography equipment. The type of images you could hang on your wall at home. It’s a great way to experiment at home if you are in lockdown.
Equipment I used.
Nikon D600 Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro lens
Manfrotto MT190 xpro4 tripod
Aputure AL-MX LED light
My Youtube channel has other videos about photography, I have another video about doing product photography in your home during lockdown. Check it out. To see more please visit my other social media accounts:
Photography ideas at home
Photography ideas at home
Product Photography shoot at home during lockdown. Examples of images created with behind the scenes on this still life shoot for Hunt & Hustle brand barber scissors. I would normally shoot in a photography studio, this is work that I managed to do during the Covid 19 virus situation has effected all our lives.
I am letting people see the inner workings on a shoot with a highly reflective chrome product which can be very difficult to shoot. But not so bad if you know what your doing. Also using a mirror as an effective background to this table top style photoshoot.
If you have questions about this type of photography please let me know and I will do my best to answer those questions for you.
This video is the result of a genuine client shoot and was not contributing towards the making of this video in anyway.
Tokina 100mm f2.8 marco lens
Elinchrome FX400 lighting kit
Manfrotto 190 xpro4 tripod
Adobe lightroom, Photoshop
To see more please visit my other social media accounts:
This is my first blog post in a while, I have been busy shooting. A lot of the work I have been doing is for Amazon/Ecommerce retails, the images I am showing is for a company I have been working with based in Bolton. They selling high end radiators in many shapes, sizes, colours.
I have been thinking about life after Covid 19, a lot more businesses are going to be changing their business strategy and aiming more for online/ecoomerce sales as a reaction to the impact Covid 19 is having on all businesses. A service like my product photography can help businesses to create the content they need for this shift in business strategy and I am able to help out.
I have also been shoot roomset photography for this radiator client and I will be posting about that in a future blog post. If you are looking for an ecommerce photographer in the Manchester area I am happy to talk about your image needs.
Floating iron with some steam, I don’t normally do the Art Direction on product shots but this one I thought I had an idea that would work. Also included, see BTS image and I have a close up and a second option of the same image. The iron in this photo is Russell Hobbs 3100w
Powersteam ultra. Follow me to see future posts.
Happy with these images, high quality, effective advertising photography.
I have seen an article on a photographer called ‘David Lund’, he is a specialist liquids photographer, a very good liquids photographer. He is letting people see the behind the scenes work on one of his advertising photography shoots and I thought it is something that the followers of this photography blog would like to see.
If you don’t want to read the whole article I will mention some of the things that interested me the most.
As soon as he saw what the Hasselblad cameras can do he bought into them costs $50,000.
He learned a lot from Karl Taylor, technical issues on how to shoot studio photography.
David uses retouching filters by Topaz labs, I have had a look myself and will be making a purchase.
His photography work uses extreme composite images (up to 90 images) built up in Photoshop, no surprises there.
It is a very interesting read and if you want to gain insight into high end advertising liquids photography it is worth a visit.
Article link: Topaz Labs
David Lund website: www.davidlund.co.uk
Thanks for reading,
I have been working on Remington’s new haircare product range called ‘Gold Dust’, I thought I would do a show and tell on these products and the work I have been doing recently.
The Gold Dust series is one of Remington’s budget range, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the photography. I have worked hard to make the appearance of the products are the best they can be, and the results are great, the products look high end haircare products which is my intention.
I did my normal studio photography techniques which is to do multiple lighting set-ups and to combine the images together in post-production, picking and choosing the best bits from each image to make one final finished image.
If you liked the post about packaging photography and you are in need of similar photography services please make contact via email or by phone and I will be happy to talk to you about your images needs. Or if you have questions about the blog topic please let me know. Thanks,
I have been working on this drinks photography image last month and I wanted to add the article onto my photography blog.
I am giving some insight into high end advertising photography, I am showing the step by step build up of a composite image, it shows the initial shots taken in a photography studio which are cut out in post-production. The changes that happens to the product itself as multiple shots are combined to enhance the product image. Then a different background is selected and put in behind the product to give the look of being shot on location.
I hope this gives readers a better understanding of what happens on a high end product photography shoot. If you have questions about this type of photography then please let me know and I could do more blog articles based on requests in future.
Advertising photography image composite
I have been working on a food photography shoot with George Foreman and I wanted to show some of the results here. The shoot took place in Manchester inside the building where the George Foreman marketing offices are based, there was a team of people on shoot, me the food photographer, Tom the food stylist, creative director from Pondarossa creative agency and 3 marketing executives from George Foreman.
We all had a part to play and worked as a team to create content for the brand. There was a pre-planned arrangement to what we were going to be shooting, I think it was 6 meals in various different locations or looks. The theme of the shoot was to show the versatility of the type of food that can be cooked on the Grill.
The results are very pleasing, some of my best work as a food photographer. Most food photography uses a shallow depth of field to make the food stand out and show lots of detail, the food is the star and the background setting can lead into out of focus.
I hope you like the photography I have shown here. If you want to hear more about a particular shoot or a a type of photography please send me a message and I will try and work on it. Also check out and follow my Instagram.
To the shock of many photographers I have started to make some video production pieces, this video I have to show is a short video made for the Charity ‘Woof’. It is a charity dog walk raising money for Cancer Research UK. The event took place on 23rd September 2018, lots of nice dogs and dog owners took the dogs on a walk around the famous Heaton Park. There was also a competition for best dog. The park is a great place to hold events such as this one, it’s massive, well looked after and very scenic.
I wanted to raise my skills in video production so I volunteered my services for the good cause. I live near Heaton Park which was helpful, I only got to spend about 45 minutes filming as I had other commitments but I will be working on more videos such as this one in future. I hope you like the video, if you feel compelled to help out with the cause please contact the Woof facebook page.
I have some images to show, these are images of hair dryers and they are to be used on Remington packaging covers to show off the products to their full potential. All 3 images have very different lighting used which can be seen in the reflections on these shiny products.
It takes a lot of studio lighting skill and techniques to make the reflections look as good as these. Every photographer has their own way of working and controlling the reflections through lighting. I have as used some image stacking which is to make sure the whole product is in focus. If you don’t know then I will tell you that lots of photographers who get a shot in one photo may be leaving parts of the product out of focus, not that noticeable but could be an issue if the image is printed large. Than some technical details are more visible.
If you want to me to post about anything in particular then please let me know. I hope you enjoyed reading about my product photography.