Sunday April 7th, 2013
Sunday April 7th, 2013
Tuesday March 26th, 2013
by Maria Luci
Proving that search engine optimization really does matter, Teri Campbell was recently hired for a shoot by Yum! Brands after their creative team found him by Googling “food photography”. They were looking for a great food shooter for a new KFC campaign, and when Teri’s name popped up, they quickly clicked to his site. Ironically, Teri had already worked with KFC, shooting a year’s worth of their point-of-purchase and print imagery through Creative Alliance. But Yum! didn’t know this until they began reviewing his online portfolio.
They soon contacted Teri about creating iconic imagery to present each of KFC’s product lines: Original Recipe, Grilled, Pot Pies, Strips, etc. They wanted stand-out images to use on the KFC website, and their art director, Scott Howard, had the idea of using dark wood surfaces to make the food pop in an tasteful way. Teri took on the assignment, looking forward to the “opportunity to approach the KFC brand from a different direction, to try something new with the photography.”
Unlike KFC’s recipe, it’s no secret that Teri has an amazing studio, equipped with just about everything needed to shoot food artfully. However, what Teri didn’t have was dark wood surfaces, an integral part of the shoot. As luck would have it, he came across man selling walnut cutting boards at a flea market. Their finishes perfect—but they were far too small. Teri asked the man—Hayes Shanesy of the design firm Brush Factory—if he could make him any larger pieces, and he said yes.
Once he had the gorgeous (and appropriately sized) wood surface in place, Teri got to work photographing the chicken. Chicago-based food stylist William Smith came in to collaborate with Teri on the project. “He was a great choice because of his background styling for cookbooks and editorial work.” They also had a former KFC employee help them with the food preparation, since KFC required that they use specific equipment and procedures to make their dishes. This meant that Teri had to install fire suppression systems in his studio, so they could use the same pressure fryers as KFC uses in their restaurants—one more item to add to the list of Teri’s studio’s amenities! Once the chicken was cooked, William got to work styling everything.
The shoot spanned five days. The background image used is one that Teri shot several years ago. “It’s actually a garage door with glass panels, that has been manipulated to create the soft, out of focus background.” Once Teri handed over the images, Yum! added some steam before posting them on the KFC website. They liked the images so much, they’ve already started talking with Teri about using them in internal pieces and possibly in advertising. Teri says the project reminded him that “you can never stop marketing, even to current clients.”
View more at terishootsfood.com.
Tuesday November 27th, 2012
Interested in learning what it takes to be a professional food photographer? Perhaps you’re looking for tips on lighting, or marketing, or photographing ice cream, but you’re not sure where to find it all in one place. Well, there’s no better resource than our own top-notch food photographer, Teri Campbell. A commercial photographer for over 25 years, Teri’s accumulated a wealth of knowledge which recently caught the eye of a PeachPit publishing executive. And thus, Teri’s Food Photography & Lighting: A Commercial Photographer’s Guide to Creating Irresistible Images was born. In the book, Teri explains what it takes to be a commercial food photographer. It’s chock full of helpful tidbits including a breakdown of the cast of characters in commercial advertising (there’s also a nice Wonderful Machine shout out on page 113). After recently receiving an advance copy, I got in touch with Teri to learn more. Below is our interview; enjoy!
- Maria Luci
Where did the initial idea come from for this book?
Susan Rimerman at PeachPit. One of the first question everyone asks me when I tell them I wrote a book is: how did you find a publisher? But the truth is, they found me. Susan contacted me after reading about my presentation at PhotoPlus Expo last year. We met at the Expo and continued to have conversations over the next couple of months. We talked about the need for books on food photography, and how most of the current books are geared towards bloggers. I then wrote an outline and a sample chapter over the holiday break (while I was in St. Lucia) and we signed a contract in February. That’s when I got busy writing.
What were the steps involved in writing and getting the book published?
My editor helped me establish milestones for each chapter and touched base with me, (monthly at first and then weekly as we got closer) to see that I was on track. As I turned in chapters to her, she would mark them up and return them to me with her notes. We would go through a few rounds this way before they moved on to layout and proofing.
Knowing where to start was difficult for me, but fortunately I have a wonderful producer, Sherry Wilson, who helped me out with organization, writing and editing. My assistant Sarah Haun, who has a background in graphic design, handled the lighting illustrations and shot many of the behind the scenes photographs. Scott Martin, my digital artist, organized the images and prepared them for printing. Peachpit Press handled most of the graphic design and layout, but gave me final approval.
Who is the target audience?
Commercial photographers, whether they shoot food or not. Amateur photographers who are interested in learning and elevating their skills. Anyone who loves beautiful pictures of food, or works with food photographers.
What does the book cover?
There are three keys to photographing food: working as a team, (usually with a food stylist or chef), knowing when to press the shutter, and lighting. This book talks about all three through a series of vignettes that show detailed lighting setups and a candid description about how each image was created. In addition, several introduction chapters describe the process and tools necessary to succeed as a commercial food photographer. I feel I was very fortunate that Peachpit was not looking for a how-to book. I didn’t have to describe alternate ways to do everything, I just wrote about what worked for me.
Were there any challenges in creating this book?
Fact checking terms and descriptions that we use everyday. Suddenly, when you’re committing something to a book, you realize that even though you’ve always called it “whatever” your entire career, you wonder if that really is the correct term. Gobo, comp, C-stand, mood-board and beauty dish were just a few of the terms I had to double check and make sure I was using correctly. But really, all of it was a challenge—since I am not a writer. Knowing that whatever you said would forever be in print is pretty daunting. The last three months were the toughest, I even had to turn down work to make sure I would finish on time.
Which was the hardest chapter to write?
The chapter that describes the roles of everyone on set was the most difficult for me to write. I think because I had to put everyone into “a box” when, in reality, it’s much more collaborative.
I do think one of my greatest contributions is in that chapter—on page 73—the “Unwritten Communication Chart.” This is almost never discussed, but it’s how the real world works.
How have readers responded?
Amazingly! I have had so many great responses. I’m truly humbled by all of the compliments.
Do you plan to write more books?
That really wasn’t my plan, and when I was in the midst of this one, I really didn’t think I would—but now that it’s done and I can see the effect it is having… maybe. I learned a lot, and it’s given me a new perspective on my own career and just how far I’ve come.
Monday July 2nd, 2012
Teri Campbell has been a food photographer for longer than he’d like to say (hey, let’s not date ourselves here). He first began shooting while working in-house for Procter & Gamble where he fell in love with working within a creative team. He missed that camaraderie as a solo photographer, but soon found fellowship and his niche as a food shooter—where he works with a team to execute assignments—and it’s been his passion ever since.
In 2001, Teri moved his business into a new space: a giant studio with just about everything you need for a food shoot… and then some. Teri believed that having his own unique space would not only set him apart, but would help control his client’s experience. He adds, with the studio “I can make sure the design reflects my creativity and style. It comes down to being able to control how my clients experience my brand, and do it consistently.”
So what went into making Teri’s perfect food studio? He explains,
We spent lots and lots of time planning, and about $250,000 renovating the space. Taking it all the way back to cinder blocks and then starting over with all new electric, plumbing, and even a new facade. Deanna Heil of Brashear Bolton Architects designed the space and I worked out the colors and interior finishes myself. We created an incredible working environment for our stylists to enjoy. Lots of windows, any appliance they might need, and a fully stocked pantry. We have spaces to relax, work or play to keep our clients happy, and also have room for tons of props and even a small garden where we grow herbs.
All that hard work paid off with clients loving the space. They don’t even need to set foot inside to be impressed as Teri had a friend illustrate a map that can also be used as a promo (one that I’ve personally seen excite clients at portfolio reviews),
I had a friend of mine who’s a toy designer do that for us. I wanted it to feel like an amusement park map, and I think he captured that perfectly. We love to give the maps to clients when they first get here and say, “if you ever get lost…” It’s a real conversation piece, lots of art directors will take it back to their office so they can show their co-workers.
Now Teri’s only issue is getting people to eventually leave the studio. He says, “Clients are really comfortable here. The biggest problem is getting them to leave—most of our clients are from out of town and will say things like, Why should we go back to the hotel when dinner is at 8? We’ll just stay here till 7:30.” Or, “Traffic will be backed up if we leave now, so do you mind if we finish up a few things here before we leave?”
Teri’s very pleased with this studio and the effect it has on clients,
I think it says that we’re successful, creative, fun and committed to being THE destination for food-related businesses anywhere in the country looking for exceptional food photography.
View more of Teri’s work and his studio on terishootsfood.com.
- Maria Luci
Sunday March 11th, 2012