I often find it hard to define my role - the ‘what do I do for a living’ as what I do for a living is rather broad yet all elements are on the same theme.
As a creative we work from a wonderful landscape where anything is possible, that philosophy alone inspires me as it’s packed with possibilities and adventures for the creative mind. My living is based from a variety of similar skill sets, the theme is based around building people and businesses yet my abilities are implemented rather differently. There is no such thing as an average week as I can travel from building a group of people’s aspirations and business approaches in a seminar format, to mentoring the growth of an individual through our online programme or as a one to one. These two roles dovetail very comfortably together however last year, I took the decision to utilise my skills in a different direction too. Adapting all my marketing and brand knowledge, utilising all my passion for photography into nurturing myself as a conceptual stylist. The learning, and discovery has been natural and organic, the hardest element is being perceived by others differently. My first important share - never allow society to box you, be a little bit maverick! Refuse to be boxed - If anybody asks what I do ‘the dreaded party question’ I now state, “trainer, business developer and stylist and they all require the same knowledge, understanding and skill ~ you have to have a real interest in people and business and that has been my life long works”.
If you too have an interest in food or commercial photography, firstly make it your mission to understand the businesses you want to photograph. What we do is far from just ‘pressing the shutter,’ we are story tellers. But what does story telling actually mean? We witness this term used so frequently.
The story teller
1. To capture how a product or service makes you feel emotionally and physically?
2. To capture the personality, character or USP of the product or service?
3. To enhance the product’s status by what you choose to associate with it such as background choice and props. They are all designed to enhance the product not steal the limelight. Remember the service or product must always remain the hero within the image
4. The story captured must achieve an objective, whether that’s to sell more products or increase the foot fall within a business
5. How a story is told, based from understanding a company’s core and visual values~ brand protection( this is so important to the growth of a company’s performance and the value of your images)
6. The images must compliment the overall atmosphere of a business and the people within. Every business and place has a different vibe - make it your mission to understand the vibe.
7. Colour is such a powerful tool, the storyteller has to have a definite understanding of the right palette for a business whether dark and moody or light and airy.
8. Seasonal influence - you can’t neglect the influence of season, it is such an influential marketing driver if businesses need to take your images to print and press. All pictures have a purpose, your trick is giving all that you capture as much purpose as possible.
9. Visual appeal, we have to create and form the attractive. The consumer is no fool! Our consumer is a smart cookie they know instantly what they are attracted to. We must respect this on behalf of a business
10. And lastly yet never losing sight of all the above to stick to ‘test the rules – the technical aspects’ the rules of thirds, depth of field and composition can never be neglected and far more importantly - the most powerful influencer – the light! We never stop seeing the world through a variety of lighting conditions and this naturally becomes an element we need to study and master as much as possible
Photography brings so many riches, quality of life, happiness and emotional reward. What it also brings me is a landscape I can exercise my mind from.
1. Give plenty of time to understanding the needs of your clients. What is the real purpose of the photography, what does it really need to achieve for people and business in equal measure!
2. Create and nurture a brief, what’s the story? How should it be told visually
3. Preparation is key, the planning and preparation time is vital. Devote time to research and searching for all the elements that matter to a client and the overall objective of the shoot.
4. Be organised, the role of the stylist is to think about everything from extension leads, step ladders to all the pretty props and blue tac! (I cannot tell you how much blue tac I use on a commercial shoot)
5. Never lose sight of the client within the shoot. Utilise your brief sheet, always come back to the brief, yet Jenny and I make it our mission to always surprise the client with something special. Knock it out of the park on every shoot with something, what ever that may be.
My list could go on, yet I am aware you have businesses to build and images to capture! Allow me one more tip - regard and respect every business you shoot.
If you seek more inspiration join us on a complimentary webinar on the 16th of August 2016 with the Food Photographer of the Year Director Caroline Kenyon.
If you have an appetite for awards.., please do take a peek at the Food Photographer of the Year Awards. The most inspiring awards that changed the direction of my life. They gave me the inspiration to be a little more Maverick!
Need educating? Join us on Aspire Food and Styling workshops
Need inspiration and perhaps the ideal website platform for all you want to achieve though your photography? Then visit Zenfolio, world class designs and platforms for photographers of all levels
Zenfolio - http://www.zenfolio.com/uk
By Catherine Connor
Image by Jenny Heyworth Photography