Separating Glamour from Reality in Foodservice Photography
Food images in today’s advertisements and packaging are glamourized versions of the actual product. Professional food photography is truly an art and a collaborative effort, usually involving an art director, a photographer, a food stylist, a prop stylist and their assistants.
The goal of food photography is to help create the consumer expectation for the product and that requires the best possible image available. Beautifully shot food images will whet the customers’ appetite and entice them to buy or try something new.
The actual product may not look the exactly the same, but it still has all the same ingredients that are shown in the photograph. As noted recently by fast food giant McDonalds, “The burger at the restaurant is optimized for eating and the photo burger is optimized for looking delicious.”
After a customer asked Mcdonald’s, “Why does your food look different in the advertising than what is in the store?” Hope Bagozzi, McDonald’s Canada Director of Marketing, proceeds over the following three-and-half minutes to explain how and why this is done: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/mcdonalds-ad-food-photos/story?id=16621290
In the video, Begozzi demonstrates how a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is deconstructed and rebuilt by professional food stylists so that all the ingredients are visible. The onions and pickles are all hand placed. The mustard and catsup are put into place with a syringe. The resulting product looks fantastic. And every ingredient used in the shoot was an actually item used in the store. Once photographed, the picture of the burger is tweaked, digitally removing any blemishes.
Building your foodservice offering must follow a similar path. Product selection and pricing are critical for success. So is setting consumer expectations of your food. With food photography, the ingredients are deliberately and carefully placed so that each is visible in the most flattering way possible to the viewer. This enables you to let customers know what they’re getting. Using the same ingredients but arranging them to highlight the flavor and combination allows foodservice marketers to set consumer expectations.