Over the last 12-18 months I have completed various commissioned work for Mina Khan at the 8020 Health Bar and Kitchen in Bolton (Greater Manchester). 8020 reflects a modern style of menu and dining with a massive focus on health, nutrition, fitness and well-being.
As well as photographing a number of items from their expansive menu, my main focus has been to help promote their 8020 meal preps which are available to order online. Their meal prep menu contains wide variety of options from healthy vegan dishes to some more traditional british cuisine.
Following the restaurants opening in 2017, I also had the opportunity to capture a few interior images. The ambience of the 8020 restaurant space is really nice and a big part of its warm appeal is created by the tungsten style warm light fittings. For my interior images no additional photographic lighting as I preferred just to let that warm ambience come through.
With all of my food photography I always ensure that the food looks natural and natural. When styling the food nothing is added and the food always remains edible. It’s always important to work with freshly cooked ingredients so one challenge when working with the meal prep food boxes was to cool the ingredients in order to prevent steam and condensation from being visible on the sides of the clear box. It is always important to work fast once the dish is ready, delays caused by lightning not being dialed in would result in shriveled vegetables and waxy looking sauces.
Some food photographer prefer to only work in natural light. Whilst this may work well in a well situated studio, it does not always work so well on location. Where possible I prefer to bring studio lighting to the restaurant so that I always have quality light at my disposal. The beauty of studio lighting is that light can be modified in any way I like to suit the subject and to created the desired mood of the shot.
It’s always great when I receive a call from a client telling me that they need something a bit different and would like my creative input. For this image Marc at Whitehouse already had a few excellent ideas but left the rest of the detail up to me and trusted me to deliver his vision. We wanted to create a vibrant Christmas themed image using their range of cutlery products. The image was to be used for their Christmas promotion and thank you message and would be shared on a range of social media.
As I look after the product photography for Whitehouse I knew which cutlery ranges were likely to work the best. Whitehouse have a decorative gold range called Grace, and an elegant copper range called Rosana and I requested 25 of each item. The relevent products were subsequently hand selected by Whitehouse and sent over to me in readiness for the shoot. In the meantime, I needed a few more props and accessories to build the set I had in mind, including the vibrant red background and the all important golden star for the top of the tree. To make the image really stand out, I wanted to include some small Christmas lights. Battery operated lights are readily available but for this image I wanted something subtle, after a small amount of searching, I came across these lights which were meant to be for a decorative Christmas wreath.
For the shoot itself the lighting was relatively straight forward and required only one studio light which was a carefully positioned backlight placed behind a screen. By far the hardest part of creating this image was the layout of the cutlery. Before deciding on this layout option and general style of the image, I experimented with different options. I very much like the strong graphical shape create by the composition and whilst the image isn’t quite directly overhead, I still consider it to be a flatlay. Once I had decided on the layout for the cutlery, there was then about 50 to 60 small adjustments required in order to refine the shape, balance and position of the lights.
Finally it was time to deliver the end result to the client. Their response was swift and simply said ‘I love it!!’. I guess that’s the kind of positive response I’m looking for with all of my photography. I hope you like the image as much as both my client and I do.
2018 Christmas Product Still Life – Whitehouse Flatlay
In recent years I have completed a number of photography commissions for Shape an award-winning Web Design / Digital Agency based in Greater Manchester. The team at Shape are great to work with and always call on me when the client is in need of some quality food or product photography.
In this instance they were working on a brand new Craft Beer website and needed some simple product packshots of cans for an E-Commerce website i.e. clean and simple, well lit product shot cut-out against a white background. Whilst this was a relatively straight forward piece of work, it required a completely bespoke product lighting setup in response to the specific characteristics of the product i.e. cylindrical and reflective. Before receiving the actual products I therefore picked up a few samples to work with and spent time on pre-lighting, my objective was to ensure the lighting was even across the whole can, and any reflections in the front of the can were both subtle and complementary. They key element of the lighting setup was to create almost a 360 circular diffusion screen around the product with a cutout for the lens. This prevented any unwanted reflections and allowed maximum flexibility wiht the lighting. For this work I utilised 5 studio lights in total, strip softboxes on each side, another high at the front and similarly one at the back. The final light was positioned close to the screen in order to produce the highlight on the front of each can.
With my setup dialed in, I was therefore ready to start straight after collecting the cans I needed to photograph. Once photographed, the products were cut-out in Photoshop and grouped into layers. As the lighting setup was refined and the products are cleaned before shooting them, any retouching required is minimised. Where possible I prefer to work on groups of products within the same photoshop file as I can compare products alongside each other. I can then make any final adjustments and deliver the results to the client.
Below is a same of the images I produced on a grey background. I’m sure you will agree that my objective of creating a simple, clear, quality product image has been achieved. Quality is one thing but consistently is another. With experience I have learned to keep all aspects of product photography in check so that I can reliably deliver quality results to my clients.
In this post I’m going to share an insight into the creation of my Oreo Still Life food photography image. This is a personal shot that I captured in some rare down time. My objective for the Oreo image was simply to produce a creative flatlay containing multiple Oreo biscuits. Just incase you don’t know, a flatlay is simply a birdseye view of a single or collection of items set out creatively on a background. Flatlays are very popular especially for food images but I often prefer to shoot food at a much lower 45 or 30 degree angle. There is no right or wrong angle here and it often depends on the client brief and your shooting style.
The composition of this image is quite straight-forward with the Oreo’s placed diagonally within the frame. A key part of the image composition is the Oreo which appears to have had a bite taken out of it. This has been added to include a main focal point for the viewer and this is sometimes missing from flatlay images. The placement of the other Oreo cookies is critical as they effect the balance of the image and affect the negative space.
As well as exploring flatlays, I wanted to make the shadows in this image a key element. As you can see in the image below the shadows help to really define the shape of the Oreo biscuit. To create the shadow I needed a hard light and for this I used a studio light with a 10 degree grip. The 10 degree grid create a very directional light which is great to creating crisp shadows. Another added bonus to the hard light is that it really helps to define the texture on the top of each Oreo. Although the gridded head is the key light, another light was added as a fill light. The fill light in this image was another studio light bounced off a white board which was suspended above the tabletop.
For me the image works well and it certainly meets the objectives I set myself, I hope you like the image too.
Clients often come to me with challenging products to photograph and with Whitehouse Crockery it was no exception. Whitehouse Crockery is a Manchester based hire company that supplies charger plates, crockery, cutlery and glassware for both private and corporate events. Their product range is huge and always growing as they regularly invest in new stock, following market trends and customer demand.
Each product presents its own challenges due to the finish, shape and often reflective nature. Whilst I do have some standard lighting setups, I often have to modify these or create completely bespoke setups to overcome the problems I am faced with. This is where my experience comes in as I often know what type of adjustment is required. This could be anything from fine tuning the position of lights to the addition of harder light sources to pull out specific details of the product. When I shoot I am always tethered to the laptop and therefore I can see the results real-time. I never like to rely on Photoshop to fix problems that should have been fixed on the shoot. This is better for me and the client as it will almost always end up in a better end result.
As well as the lighting challenges, another key skill when producing a number of packshot type product images on several different occasions is their consistency. Images for their website must not only look good, but they must be consistently lit and processed. My approach is always consistent and I pay special attention to colour management and always compare against previous images, checking them side-by-side.
I have an excellent working relationship with Whitehouse Crockery and Marc Gough, Sales Director kindly provided me with this testimonial feedback – I have been working with Matt now for the past three and a half years and the vision he shares for my brand along with the attention to detail when photographing products for Whitehouse Event Crockery is exceptional. He has produced an extensive gallery of quality product images and some wonderfully creative tabletop shots for our Instagram feed that capture the uniqueness of what we do! I hope to continue the relationship for many years to come and would highly recommend Matt for Still Life and Product Photography.
Below are a selection of images which I have created for Whitehouse Crockery over the past few years. As you can see I have captured everything from simple packshot type product images on a white background, to creative Still Life images with creative composition and lighting which sometimes took hours to create.
Whilst print isn’t as popular as it once was, you can’t beat the medium for its ability to deliver a message with maximum impact. I often work with Manchester based design and advertising agencies that have created stunning logos, branding and design layouts and when you combine this with quality papers and textures, the final result is often nothing short of stunning. I guess that’s where I come in… its my job to represent the impact of quality printed work back through my photography. Whilst a core objective of the brief is to deliver photography that clearly displays the branding work, I also need to draw the viewers eye into the magnificent textures and creative foiling work that make this type of work a cut above the digital versions.
Over this years this has seen me to photograph a variety of printed branding work but I was recently approached by Matt Beadle of Landmark Branding, Manchester to create a number of images that would make the quality of his print work stand out from the rest. When I received the products I needed to photograph I was amazed by the sheer quality of the branding and papers. I was therefore enthusastic about setting up my lighting a creating some hopefully well received images.
Although the subject isn’t the most technically challenging to photograph it does require an attention to detail to bring out the key details and to ensure consitency from one image. Composition is also as important as lighting, in order to draw the viewers attention onto key details. This commission was completed in the studio using 3 to 4 lights, some lighting was diffused in order to provide consistent illiumination whilst other were gridded to provide impact.
When I delivered the final images to the client they were very impressed and this is the feedback which I recieved:
“We needed some high quality images of some of our best print work to promote our property branding agency. Matt helped me through the whole process and we were delighted with the detail, service and overall results. I wouldn’t hisitate to recommend Matt to other businesses.”
A selection of these images are now being used on the Landmark Branding agencies website https://wearelandmark.co.uk/ and below are some of my favourites from the shoot. If you are an agency with some print work you need photographing to a high standard then please do not hisitate to get in touch, I am always happy to discuss your brief and provide a written quotation.