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Brand Driven Photography

How many times you opened a catalogue and didn’t have any desire to purchase something? The pictures seemed fine, but somehow they didn’t raise any emotions. Same happened with many e-commerce sites. They just blindly copy each other and expect sales. Later on, they cry on the Forums and in Facebook Groups that they didn’t sell well. There are several reasons for fewer sales; Poor marketing, an absence of strategy, weak or missing message, and often average or irrelevant photography. Let’s have a look at the photography part.

Photography is a powerful instrument of the experienced marketer. It’s also a language which anyone can understand without words. It’s also a tool to move clients’ emotions in the direction you need.

Here are several photography mistakes that business owners commit –

1. Hire the wrong type of photographer.

Professional Photographers usually have specialisation. They choose to work with one or two directions. For instance, commercial photographers are different from editorial ones. Wedding photographers and food photographers have separate specialities. However, a wedding photographer may shoot events as well. Food photographers often need to know how to shoot interiors, exteriors, and portraits, but they will position themselves as food photographers. Fashion photographers may be excellent in portrait photography, but they may not be aware of how to take a professional landscape shot! There is no rule in it, but you need to know WHY you have hired that photographer and what is his specialisation?

If you require a cutlery or tableware catalogue, you may need product photographer, not a food photographer. And in this case, your brand comes into the picture. Because if you want to portray a particular image in your customer’s mind, you need to start with an idea. What your catalogue is going to tell your clients?

2. Just making good images without an idea behind.

Know what you want to say to your customers. Is your product “Clean, Hygienic, and Easy to maintain”? Or your product is “Comfortable, Friendly to a body, and Made from Eco-friendly materials”? Or your product is “Innovative, Fashionable, and User-friendly”? Choose your own three to five words and ask photographer and art director to follow this idea.

3. Be consistent.

When we make promotional materials for our brand, we start feeling like there are too many of brand colours around, or there are too many of the same style pics, and we tempt to be creative and change all of it. Please remember this statement! “While you see all your materials on a daily basis, your customers can see your advertisements or catalogues once in a week or even month. Give them a chance to remember you, be very consistent, convey your core values all the time; it’s crucial.”

Powerful Brand Driven Photography builds a reliable connection between your buyer and your product/company. Stronger connection — More trust; More trust — More purchases. When your clients are happy to be associated with your brand, they are tempted to share an experience with their colleagues, friends, and family. And, one day they become the ambassadors of your brand, that moment your business starts growing faster because there is no stronger medium than the “word of mouth.”

6 Secret Techniques on how to use photography to sell better during Holidays.

How many official holidays mean something to you?
How many of the same holidays will be substantial for your customers?

Sometimes I see my timeline on Facebook and think that I can get mad with all these similar looking e-cards. But after all, any holiday is a reason to post something, isn’t it? So, to post or not to post?

1. Treat customers as you would treat yourself.
Anything which does not attract you online, potentially will not tempt your buyers. After all, they are all humans, just like you. So, if you want to celebrate something, think what will make you happy?

2 Make exclusive content, don’t copy.
When the time of national or world celebration comes, all creativity vanishes for a while. If it’s some state day, we will deal with the flag, if it’s Helloween, that would be pumpkin, if it’s Christmas, it will be red colour and snow. I’ll be straightforward – if you can’t create something sweet and personal, better post nothing. Bad communication may harm your brand more than absent communication. So stop for a second and ask yourself: “Do I have THE IDEA?” If not, search for inspiration (check here how), and think again. Did you find your big idea? Yes? Yay, create it and share with the world! No? Just don’t post, or leave a formal text message without a picture.

3 Personalise it, if you can
How would you react if the brand sends the message to you? Well, all like when people remember their birthdays, anniversaries, special days (that’s what Facebook tries to work out with all these videos for friendship day, etc.) So? Can you make it personal? If you can, then do it. It’s always better or talk to someone special than to the faceless public.

4 Gently offer something
Ok, we want to sell something. These types of post usually help smart business people who love to learn new things and become more and more successful, right? So, you want to sell, don’t you? When we talk about big celebrations, the discounts sell well, because people are waiting for them. After all, your discounts, these days, compete with your competitor’s discounts (nobody wins). But what if you will be different? What if you will click the photo of your real team which is wrapping gifts and excited to share something special with customers? Think about it. All you need is a good promo idea and one exquisite click with your smartphone.

5 Participate the celebration
Celebrate with customers, invite them to celebrate with you offline or online. You can celebrate in office and share joy via Periscope or Hangout of FB Live. Make online meeting, have fun. Be human to your customers, be a friend.

6 Be honest
The honesty is an important quality which leads to the trust. Do your customers trust you? Well, the more you share about your brand, the better. Let’s say your company makes something to celebrate. Show people the process, share personal stories about you or your team. Let it be emotional and touching and once again honest.

Conclusion
Wish from heart and love your customer. Loving your customers is crucial. It’s not only about friendly behaviour or smiley in the text. It’s about the secret ingredients within your heart which make every message you share special.

P.S. Please share your questions & thoughts in comments below 🙂

70% of Instagram users are committing these sins while photographing food.

I’m quite an active Instagram user myself with a few thousands of followers, I observe a lot of photographs every day. What can I say? Some of the pictures are amazing and those accounts have huge followership. But the majority of people just click what they appreciate and put the pics on Instagram without a thought. And it’s perfectly fine when you have a personal account which is probably visited by a bunch of the close friends and relatives. But, what if you are running your blog and want to attract more people there via Instagram? What if you try to develop the business account, and not just a personal room for a family? Well, in this case, the quality of your photographs and the strategy are critical. Because you are providing your content for the readers, it’s not about you anymore; it’s about them. And when we talk about food-related businesses such as restaurants, cafes, bakeries, shops, food blogs, nutrition coaches, online shops – the quality of visual content is, even more, significant, as “client eat with their eyes first”.

The first sin is

WRONG WHITE BALANCE

What is white balance in camera for food photography

 

WHITE BALANCE

You presumably noticed these symbols on the camera being displayed or on the advanced smartphone apps. These are white balance options. You need to know more about white balance to achieve photographs which don’t look like some yellow disaster. The strange yellowish images are mostly the victims of the tungsten light. As AWB (Auto White Balance) can’t work within this “light temperature range”, it allows a camera to produce whatever it sees (and at that moment, the camera is practically blind). To fix this issue just chose the symbol with the little light bulb. It will dramatically improve your picture, and even if the photo is not perfect, it will be easier to correct it during postproduction.

If you need more information, read this post about white balance and the one on light temperature.

The second sin is

SHAKING HANDS & BLURRED PICS

 

USE TRIPOD FOR YOUR SMARTPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY

Well, it’s not easy to make a sharp picture in a poor light condition. More than that, it’s almost impossible. That’s why photographers work with a tripod. The good news is that you can use a sort of holder with your smartphone too. I simply use my selfie stick mounted on a basic tripod. If you don’t have a tripod, put your camera on a table or other stable surfaces such as book or bag and put the camera on timer.
The best idea is to stop shooting in the darkness. If there’s no enough of natural light, simply learn how to use artificial light efficiently. It’s obviously better to photograph in a good light condition to achieve some great clicks.

The third sin is

BORING OR BAD LOOKING SUBJECT

BORING OR BAD LOOKING SUBJECT

Yes, I quietly passed some composition mistakes or crazy looking filters. Yes, one of the most common mistakes is the poor looking subject. It’s one of the primary and undeniable rules of photography — 90% of the time you will get what you look at. So if your dish isn’t styled enough, the elements of the composition were not put in a right place, the final photo will not look exciting.

So here is the tip. (It’s easier to perform when your camera is fixed on a tripod)

  • Put your basic composition and fix the camera.
  • Then modify light, dishes, props, till you love it on a camera display. Make a few clicks, adjust the settings.
  • Now you can put the food.
  • Make some styling tweaks on the dish, take a few more snaps.
  • Now add some garnishes to the dish and make your final shot.

One of the most critical conditions for the food to look good is that it has to be super fresh. All garnishes have to be very fresh and strong (read here how to achieve it) and props clean (read here on how to maintain the props)

In conclusion

It doesn’t sound that pressing. Just three common issues to fix and your photographs will look so much better. Obviously, when you run a business account, it’s never only about pictures. It’s also some branding, some strategy, and some story behind. But if you start with good images, it’s already a big deal. You do not need to become a National Geographic photographer in a day. But nowadays, all customers are very particular about visuals; they are searching for authenticity and photography. It’s just a right medium to reach the heart of your potential reader or buyer.

Well, as I informed you so much about branding and strategy which work together with photography, here is the deal — Download this Book and try to apply the ideas from it. I know it will help your food enterprise improve the visual communication and thrive. Cheers 🙂

How design and photography work for your brand

I’ve been working in the advertising industry for many years. Once upon a time, I was a designer and it was a tough job. But life changed, and if you need to create a design for your online communication today, you can make pretty good artwork on your own. Here are some ideas how.

Part 1. Less is bliss.

The better design — the lesser the unnecessary elements it has. Remove all redundant components and keep only indispensable ones to achieve perfection.

  • Less means — readable fonts, it is better to use professional fonts (check some here)
  • Less means — enough of breathing space around the elements of your design, also, it makes the design look more expensive. (Check Apple Ads)
  • If you are not trained to design professionally, NEVER use this: gold decorations, free unreadable fancy fonts, and acid-bright gradients (unless you sell golden toilets to Russian oligarchs)

Part 2. To Know or not know the software.

Some people think that the software knowledge miraculously transforms them into designers. Wrong! If you just know Corel Draw or Photoshop you are not a designer yet, you are a person who knows Corel Draw or Photoshop.

The software is a tool. You have to know it without a doubt. But artistic taste, composition, understanding of colour, broad knowledge of typography, drawing skills, and many other artistries are more important then new devices and programmes.

Hint: Think with a pencil in the hand!

Part 3. Photography and design.

If you add a logo to the photo, it’s already a design attempt and it brings more information to the customer than a just photo or a logo itself.

  • If your message is more important than the photo, check out the balance between both. Buyer’s attention has to be on the headline, message or call to action.
  • If you plan the photo shoot, check out if you leave enough of space for the text in you photographs. Plan it in advance. (Check how to plan photoshoot)
  • Click some backgrounds on location to add text over them later. Let them not be too cluttered. You can click interiors, landscape, textures and many other things to use them as backgrounds in the future projects. Try to keep in mind what type of business you advertise; it may give an idea which textures you may need, or what backgrounds will correspond with your concept more.
  • Always remember the difference between commercial and editorial photography. While one product on a white base with little text may sell the phone, it won’t show the story behind. If you need a story, the creatives have to tell it.

Social media platforms and print media may be suitable for different type of design and photography. Do your research to find out which pictures will engage your audience better and on which platform to place them.

Part 4. Design as it is.

Many times you may like to use the design without any photography. And when you start to create your brand, it’s great to know how it will work via pure design; how it will work via pure photography; or how it will manifest itself via a combination of design + photography.

  • The pure design aesthetic requires a clearer font solutions, careful colour choices and supporting elements such as icons.
  • Even if we add an elaborate illustration or infographic to it, the brand message and style still have to be delivered to a consumer.

Part 5. Easy templates.

With easy technology in hands nowadays, more people can create good looking compositions. Use canva.com or fotor.com both of these online designing and editing sites will help the beginners via sets of fantastic templates and predesigned elements. Both sites have some advantages and disadvantages, so try them and choose one which you appreciate more.

  • If you want to create decent creatives, follow the template to a T. If you see four letters in the template word — use a four-letter word. If they use some font, do not change it. If they use those colours, it’s probably on purpose.
  • Eventually, you will be able to create similar designs on your own. But it will require some time, learning and practice.
  • Both sites are amazing platforms to hone your creative skills and give a real push to your Social media.

In conclusion

Design and photography are the versatile elements of visual communication. They can work independently or in combination. The illustrations, icons, fonts and other components have to be used in moderation to crave the ideal brand message for people who are going to buy your product.

P.S. Read more about design and photography in my new book “Good photo = good brand”. Cheers 🙂

How to photograph pictures which sell for you?

It’s a valid question, isn’t it? It’s actually quite easy, all you need is a creative idea, a decent lighting, and an ability to capture the image. Well, I would also add the understanding – why you need this image! Yes, it’s important. How many times you were just clicking some pictures for the sake of clicking, or passing something really interesting, and didn’t even remember about a camera in your bag? When we find out why are we going to photograph something, the idea, creative approach, and execution details come along. The keys for good photos are WHY, WHAT and WHO (the viewer).

Let’s say you want to promote the new cakes from your online shop. That means a customer will not be able to taste them, smell them, or touch them, they will only see the pictures, and read the description on the shop page.

Answer the question, WHAT are we going to shoot.  Something sweet, delicious dessert, cake! (You can start with a long description, which itself will push some creative ideas.)
All right, so let’s see WHY we need these photographs? To attract the customers and make sure they buy it. 
Then, WHO the customers are? If we know who is going to buy the cake, we are going to address these people first. (Describe them in details.)

So, how to photograph pictures which sell for you?

Option one — the object on a white background. (Any cake for any customers).
We can photograph the cake on a white background, and focus on the image, and nothing extra. For those who want to buy any cake, it may work. But why they need this cake, not any other?

Option two — photograph with the Mood.
Photograph the cake in an interior with beautiful props, create the mood with a natural light from the window, add a cup of tea, a vintage postcard. Well, that’s a little better. The mood is an important detail which adds value. Customer starts to associate with the idea and decides to buy the product.

Option three — here’s a close up of the detail.
If your cake is decorated with some beautiful flowers, you may showcase this element, and add some attractive text nearby. Well, it may work for some products, but not for all. And, it’s good to have a design in mind before the photo shoot starts.

Option four — Somebody eating the cake.
The big cake is in the background. The piece of it is on the plate, the spoon is nearby, the tea is served. (Invisible human factor). Sometimes, it may work as a very engaging photo. This option can be used for a more sophisticated audience.

Option five — Models eating.
A boy and a girl are eating the cake, they are enjoying and their faces are all smeared with cream, they are laughing. This time, we show the happiness, and if we sell for the birthday parties, it may work amazingly well.

Option six — Bon appetite!
The girl model proposes us a cake, camera focus is on the cake. The eye contact with another human may push people to make a decision to buy. It may help to sell the cake for an anniversary or so.

I can continue with the options, but I guess the thinking process has been described more or less.

Just to add even more clarity, here is the checklist:

  • Why do we need these pictures?
  • Who do we want to sell this product?
  • What idea does this product represent?

After you answer these questions, create an idea, which will promote itself with the light, props, models, and equipment.

More Pictures in my Shutterstock Set ‘Cake Photography’ here

How to create a better restaurant review blog post with your photography

There are many food bloggers who like to review restaurants and share their recipes on social media. Sounds good, isn’t it? But let’s see how it looks. Some media gurus of questionable expertise recommend that you can put just anything online and people will love it. Well, they may appreciate your thoughts, for sure, but will they buy from you, will they trust you just by seeing your images? Probably no. Why? Because they just don’t take you seriously enough. So shall we photograph with that huge DSLR, you may ask? Not, again. Photography is never about the camera, it is always about the play of light and shadows. And if you are familiar with this play, you will be able to produce better pictures.

So, how to take good food pictures or restaurant photos for your food blog with a smartphone? Check it out.

First of all the Idea

What are you going to highlight in your blog post today? Are you talking about a dish? Are you reviewing the restaurant and your attention is on the interiors, services, and clients? Are you are taking an interview of some owner, manager, or chef?
Decide what you are going to focus and make some list with drafts. This list has to give you ideas and answer what has to be photographed to illustrate your story. It will save a lot of time and give inspiration.

If you like to plan your photo shoot or seek the inspiration, check these posts too.

Planning the food photography photo shoot

How to find the inspiration for the photo shoot with Pinterest

Secondly, once you are on location — find the light!

Light is the most important element of photography. Don’t think that a photo, taken in a poor light condition, may attract your readers. Unlike you, they didn’t see this restaurant, they didn’t eat here, didn’t appreciate the aroma of the food or background music. It’s your job to translate all these experiences with mere words and visuals. And if your images are looking not up to the mark, you may create a very bad impression about a good place or a good dish. Well, no need to say, that it will neither attract readers nor help to monetize your blog.
So, if the light is so important then find it. Search for the biggest source of light, such as a window, alternatively create your own light source, or just don’t click the picture. Yes, you heard me right. If you planned your shoot in advance, you will find the light. But if not, then better click the picture of the restaurant entrance or the signage in a good light condition. Also, you may tell the restaurant manager that you are going to review the restaurant and the dish on your blog. Then ask for the permission to use artificial light to create really great pictures.

Lumie Series Muse LED Light

Check this little magic lights by Manfrotto, they may help you a lot in this situation.

And if you would like to know more about photography basics, check this post.

Learn photography basics

The third component is the story behind

The blog is always a storytelling. Let your pictures follow the text. When your fans are reading the review and enjoying the copy and illustrations, it’s just awesome. They may like to share it as well. Do not add too many pictures, choose only the best.

So, the great restaurant review is not difficult. Amazing ideas, good pictures, interesting text and voila — post is ready. Now, go on, share it with your friends and readers on social media.