Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shooting Products - Food and why you shouldn’t eat the props

Food is one of my favorite product subjects to shoot at the present time. It requires not only skill behind the camera, but also skills to work with a team effectively. For full-on production shots, your team can include a photographer, assistant(s), food stylist, chef, location manager, etc. Depending on the budget available, you don’t need a complete production team though. Check out a shot made with a terrific local chef and teacher, Chef Trusan of

This chicken salad was on set for more than 2 hours. How did we keep it fresh? A little oil brushed over the chicken goes a long way to extend the life of your prop. 

Strobe modeling lights are hot, so how do keep stuff that’s not cold looking cool? Sometimes, ice is not what it seems. Acrylic ice is often required to make sure ice doesn’t melt. A little glycerin and water can make a refreshing cola which is very much at room temperature for the shoot.

Is this whisky or a bit of gatorade which looks like it? Actually, this is what it is. Depending on the purpose of your image, your tools on hand, and your patience, various props are definitely helpful.

Sometimes food on a photographer’s set is not really all it seems to be. This is always a bit frustrating for me as I don’t get to eat the props, but we all have to sacrifice for our craft. Now, I’m hungry. Time for lunch...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How do you use imagery in your business?

The answer is different for every company. I’ve seen many different uses of images I’ve produced or in a companies image library. Some of what I’ve experienced are:

  • Event coverage from annual kick-off event used for internal and external PR
  • Sponsor “thank-you” images from charity events
  • Internal award celebrations and recognition images used for team promotion
  • Branding and advertising campaign images
  • Public relations coverage from events or community involvement
  • Images produced for training classes and manuals
  • Celebrity images with executives, teams, etc., used for promotion and media
  • Team images used for internal branding and communication
  • This list goes on and on...

Money is something in short supply for pretty much everyone these days and events, printed materials, charity, etc., all cost money to produce. Smart companies are leveraging anything they do as much as they can. So... What does this have to do with images? All you need to do to radically expand your image library is capture images from things you already do. The next step is to strategize how best to use them and reap the rewards. Easier said than done, but innovative companies are doing just that.

What other ways do you use images to expand you brand, bring stakeholders together, or engage with your customers?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What is a unique image anyway?

Let me start this highly subjective topic with... “it depends”. Images have been created and recreated. Popular locations shot in every conceivable way. Models with talent agencies are shot repeatedly for different advertisements and promotions. Studio lighting techniques are similar. And what is even more interesting is that cell phone cameras allow anyone to snap a picture and have it on the web in 30 seconds.

How to make a unique image might be the wrong question. I think a different way to think about imagery is...

Where activities are uniquely yours and not available to the general public?

  • A few ideas for you...
  • Company sales, strategy, and other large meetings
  • Employee & community activities
  • Newsworthy events
  • What else?

How can you most effectively communicate your brand uniqueness?

  • A few more ideas for you...
  • Custom annual report images
  • Advertorial imagery destined for print (yes, I said print)
  • PR images destined for news outlets
  • What else?

How can you show value to your stakeholders?

  • Even more ideas for you...
  • Charity & community involvement
  • Team building activities
  • Award celebrations
  • What else?

What images communicate your brand, vision, and values? Something produced for you and your unique vision will always be more unique and communicate more of your company and brand. Of course, stock imagery is everywhere and readily and cheaply available, so where should you use that? But that’s another topic for another day.

In short, unique images start with you, your activities, and your brand. Create images for these and you’ll have unique images.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Welcome - Jon Becker Photography Blog Launch

History is being made! Another blog is launched.I don’t know about making history with so many blogs and voices out on the internet, especially photographers blogs. Is this one different? Reader feedback will tell. But first, this is not a photography blog. I won’t explain all the technical wizardry, visionary approaches, nor will I have definitive answers to every photographic problem.

This blog is about using imagery to grow your business and leverage things you may already be doing more successfully. In short, I hope to start a conversation about different ways businesses can use photography in their business to make more money.

In upcoming editions, we’ll explore:
  • What makes a good image 
  • Working with photographers to make images 
  • Image licensing and usage rights 
  • When to use stock images and when to use custom images 
  • And more... 
Each week I intend to post a business related topic, followed by a creative topic. The photography industry is changing rapidly, yet our world is becoming more and more visual. I can’t wait to discover new ways businesses use imagery, creative ways to make it, and a shared appreciation for compelling images.

Let’s enjoy the journey together.