When you pick up a copy of forthcoming issues of Delicious Living, Food Network or Eating Well, among others, you’ll see new ads from Vitamix, one of Melamed Riley’s top clients. In the ads, you’ll see several beautifully-shot pictures of recipes made using a Vitamix machine. But how did they get there? How did we progress from recipe to photoshoot to final placement? I got to play a role in this journey last week and I’d like to spend the rest of my time here breaking down what was a very fun day.
The ads discuss the endless possibilities you enjoy with a Vitamix machine and present several of them within the framework of a witty, contemporary flowchart. While all of the recipes had been chosen, we still needed to shoot six of them before finishing the ads. Last Monday, John Butler and I met with our client, our food stylist Betty and photographer Clarissa at local studio Kalman & Pabst. There, we discussed the shoot and began making decisions with regard to presentation – serving dish, complementary food, table surface and linens, for example.
Then, bright and early last Thursday, we reconvened at Kalman & Pabst to start shooting. As Betty worked her magic in the kitchen, we began staging the shots. First up – which was great for those in attendance – was chocolate orange fondue. Once we had completed the shot, we dug in and sampled the goods. You may call chocolate fondue at 10 a.m. on a Thursday an indulgence, but that’s just you. Besides, I couldn’t hear you if you did, because I was busy devouring a fondue-covered pineapple chunk. Yum. Two more fondues and it was time to break for lunch.
The benefit to being on a food shoot and needing a photo of sweet and sour sauce later in the day became very obvious when the studio brought in three huge trays of sushi from Pacific East on Coventry for lunch. I would have taken pictures of the bounty if we all weren’t busy chowing down. From there, it was a mad rush to capture three shots to round out the day. Two dipping sauces and a salsa later, and we were done – and armed with six great shots for the ads.
We were fortunate to be working at Kalman & Pabst, as they have a massive room dedicated only to plates, bowls, platters and the like. We had our run of that stock as well as the studio’s expansive collection of linens, surfaces and similar accouterments. We were also fortunate to be working with Betty, who I’ve decided has just about the most interesting job I’ve encountered. She ably prepared each Vitamix recipe by the book and worked with Clarissa to present them in a beautiful and authentic manner.
For each of the six recipes shot, I’d say there were probably a couple of dozen photos taken. Most were for placement. Often, the differences between shots were very subtle. A stray vegetable here, a wonky shadow there. Once we locked down the final and agreed upon very minor retouching, Clarissa would send me low-resolution comps for placement in the layout. With both John and the Vitamix team on-site, moving forward in the ad approval process was seamless.
Some slight tinkering early this week gave way to getting high-resolution finals from the studio and, with that done, the time came to size each ad for placement in six different publications (with six unique sizes). Despite the fact it’s not always sushi lunches and chocolate fondue, being able to participate in this process from initial start of work to concepting to approval to revisions to photoshoot to final release is one of the most valuable and rewarding parts of my job. I strongly believe that, if you can, you owe it to your craft to take ownership of as much of this process as possible, so I’m fortunate to have been able to see this project through from the start.