This was a tough but satisfying assignment because I got to use all my production and many of my photography skills.
The assignment was for Ventura Foods, Inc., which originally was going to be a commercial photography food shoot with chefs, then evolved into a chef shoot along with an industrial photography shoot and then evolved into a chef, industrial and business lifestyle assignment during one of our first production meetings.
The client liked that they did not have to hire three photographers. “Oh, I see you also shoot business lifestyle and industrial work as well. Would you be interested in shooting something like what is on your website for us?”
Most of my work is B2B, so often I am dealing with folks that have not hired a photographer before; not so in this case. Ventura was working with a very smart consultant that knew her stuff, so we could talk the same language and our expectations were aligned.
She needed to come up with content that represented the company’s core message; that they are a food company and there is care taken in creating the food they make.
I got that in my first conversation with then and figured that this would be an available light assignment with lots of LED fill and color balancing involved. This was confirmed on the scout.
We ended up filtering and dimming the mixed color overhead lights with gels and then filling and highlighting with LED lights balanced to the ambient overhead lighting. Filtering the background light was done in post because it was going to be more difficult to ditch the blue shift in the windows than filter the whole window. Total time to shoot the first day’s work was 14.5 hours.
The crew consisted of two assistants, a digital tech, an intern, hair and makeup artist, a stylist and two models. Additionally there was a technical scout with my first assistant and some post production; all done in house.
As we were shooting, the consultant liked the shallow depth a field in my pictures, as well as detail shots she had not planned on. So I would say the shoot went as smoothly as could have gone. Although during the shoot there were some technical issues with the laptop which we were able to work through fairly fast.
The second phase of the shoot, on the following day, was a business lifestyle shoot for the company’s planned recruitment campaign. They wanted a feel for the company culture and environment; something I do a lot of.
The above and below images are composites since the ideal traffic flow at both locations would have happened earlier in the day. The post production allowed me to show the flow of employees that is often present in the building.
Most of the business lifestyle photography I shoot is not choreographed; because it would be impossibly disruptive or look too artificial if I tried to fake it with non-professional models. That said , when appropriate, I have no problem choreographing an image to represent a scene that might normally happen.
I figure my clients don’t pay me to wait around for the perfect moment . They pay me for results. My experience and judgment comes from many years of shooting annual reports and corporate sustainability reports.
Additionally, the client wanted to show their people in their environment so we just asked people we came across for a few minutes to make their portrait. Everything else was pretty much what was happening in real time. Although the client did not ask for environmental portraits, it seemed that portraits should have been part of the whole package.
Below are three portraits we made of employees. Note that everything had to be extremely mobile because we had a lot ground to cover, so setting up strobe lights was not an option. All of our environmental portraits where lit with small LED Lights or reflected speed lights which kept the look very natural.
The final day of shooting was at Ventura Foods processing facilities which was an industrial setting with a laboratory attached. Our lighting approach was similar in both environments and it made us much more productive because we could continue to move between sets at a good pace.
My style was pretty photojournalistic but with some subtle lighting and a lot of color metering to match the changing ambient lighting.
This commercial photography assignment was one of my favorite shoots of the year because of the variety of work I got to do and the disparate challenges involved. I was working on all four cylinders and I was happy with the images.