Art Directing Blog P1082545 EDIT

Whether our clients' guests like to admit it or not, their purchasing decisions are often influenced by branding and the captivating images used to entice them – that’s marketing! Nowhere is this more apparent than in the F&B world. 

We all walk past an advert, check out a restaurant's website and socials, glimpse at a correx as we drive past our local or even browse a menu, thinking to ourselves, "What's that? It looks delicious! I have to give it a try." But what really goes into creating that image…

We all know the power of imagery and its ability to reshape a brand’s appearance. But what makes an image great? For me it starts way before the shoot itself. It begins with the development of the concept. Creative consideration for image / video and it’s place within the visual language.

Once our vison has been locked in, we always (always!) begin with a shoot brief, it’s an opportunity to map out how we’re going to deliver the job. An invaluable upfront task fundamentally shaping how successful a shoot will be and ensuring it runs smoothly, effectively and gets the most out of it for our clients. We co-ordinate a team of professionals, including photographers, videographers, and food stylists; leveraging our extensive network of trusted suppliers to ensure the right expertise for each project.

Once we know who is working on the shoot, the shoot brief becomes our guiding document on the day, encompassing the creative direction, desired image aesthetics, angles, lighting, setups, and considerations for backgrounds, props, and scene dressing.

Going beyond art direction, we also offer prop management, model sourcing and studio scouting, ensuring everything is thought about ahead of time making the shoot day itself seamless and stress-free.

Oh, and it doesn’t end there. Our in-house post-production retouching guarantee the final shots look as good as possible – perfecting any imperfections that often happen when shooting food and drink under studio lights or unpredictable weather conditions.

But what actually is Art Directing?

Art Direction goes beyond just aesthetic; it's about curating flawless scenes and executing memorable visual experiences that last. We set the stage and create a cohesive visual narrative that resonates with the consumer. I believe that clever compositions, thoughtful styling, and fresh perspectives are instrumental in effective storytelling. Through careful choices in styling and backgrounds, we have the power to create a whole array of different brand ambiances - from chic and minimalist to warm and cosy. 

Our work revolves around consideration of space, texture, harmony, and balance, with the ultimate goal of showcasing the product in the best possible light. Serving as the creative thread that connects the photographer, food stylist, chef, and client, we consistently deliver on the client's brief while maintaining a cohesive artistic vision. As brand custodians, we meticulously curate every facet of our content to ensure alignment with our clients' vision, paying attention to even the smallest details that may go unnoticed.

In recent years, QSR brands like KFC and McDonald's have significantly elevated the visual standards of their imagery, making affordable items appear irresistibly appealing, appetising, and tempting to purchase. However, we understand that the reality of a McDonald's burger, is different to the perfected portrayal in their imagery. And that’s through clever styling, texture and creating a setting that highlights and heroes the dish. Whether it's a simple, vibrant background that exudes a golden aura or a blurred environment that aligns with the product's theme, combined with a rustic wooden surface (which has no doubt been printed), these elements collectively tell a welcoming and approachable story for the consumer. Undoubtedly, these QSR brands are setting the benchmark for other brands to aspire to, inspiring them to enhance their visual storytelling strategies.

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Tricks of the trade

Never eat or drink anything being shot on a photoshoot. There’s no doubt that the burger is being held together by at least 16 cocktail sticks – to ensure everything stays in its place. The chocolate sauce on an ice cream is not chocolate sauce, butter has been melted onto toast with a paint stripper heat gun. The condensation added to a beer bottle has been spritzed on to evoke a chilled and refreshing look. And the salad bowls are raised high with cardboard layers underneath to add height and volume. That’s just a few tricks of the trade, but there are many more we have under our belt to make sure the food and drink looks amazing on camera.

Deciding the right place to shoot

Photoshoots can take shape in many different gauzes – it can be a studio shoot solely focusing on food or it can be a lifestyle shoot with people, interaction, and expression. Lets not forget stop frame animations and moving imagery. We do it all and there is an optimum place for each of them. Not everything needs to be shot in a studio and can benefit from being shot in our client's own venues. Our shoot planning allows us to select the place that will capture the best imagery for the brand and how it will be used.

There’s so much evolving and changing in the design world and that’s trickling down to art direction of photoshoots. There is a growing demand to capture wider shots for digital executions and to create exclusively portrait-oriented content for social media platforms. Not to mention the advances in AI technology meaning smaller setups and less time retouching in post-production. We are at the forefront of these developments, adapting to the changing landscape and tech capabilities whilst still aiming to evoke emotions and captivate customers. 

If your next project aims to leave a lasting impression or requires a distinct style, it is likely in need of an Art Director to bring it to life. Get in touch with out Brand Design team to discuss how we can help. 

Photo credit to @charleswardphotography and Jack Spicer Adams.

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