Drea's Kickin Kitchen: Behind Food Photography

Abigail Lague
January 27, 2024
5 min read

This month we were so excited to partner with Drea’s Kickin Kitchen to get updated photos of their amazing line of hot sauces. We love food photography because it’s a great chance to get creative with your lighting, celebrate color, and utilize props. 

To showcase the fresh ingredients and flavors featured in their hot sauces, we used a variety of colorful produce like onions, bell peppers, habaneros, mangoes, and tomatoes. Each sauce boasted a unique flavor profile, and we sought to celebrate each sauce for its individuality and uniqueness. We also highlighted sauce uses by including props like wings and ribs. 

Check out the results! 

When it comes to food photography, the are 10 things that make all the difference: 

1. Lighting

Lighting is arguably the single most critical aspect of food photography. While there is a lot to be said for natural lighting, a studio setup is ideal. It ensures consistency in the photos – not only for that session, but in all future photoshoots. When you know your lighting setup, you can maintain brand and photographic consistency with every shoot. That’s also why it’s important to find a photographer you know and trust. Building a working relationship with a photographer that knows your brand and how to style your shoots is essential. 

2. Composition

Composition in food photography involves arranging elements within the frame to create balance, interest, and harmony. The rule of thirds is commonly applied, where key elements like the main dish or garnishes are placed off-center for a more dynamic composition. This is the difference between a compelling image, and one that feels “not quite right.” 

3. Props and Background

Choosing the right props and background significantly impacts the mood and story of your food photography. Select props that complement the dish without overwhelming it—a rustic wooden table, neutral plates, or vintage silverware can add character without distracting from the food itself. Consider textures and colors that contrast or harmonize with the dish to create visual interest.

4. Styling

Food styling involves arranging and presenting food in an appealing way for the camera. Pay attention to details such as garnishes, sauces, and condiments—they should be placed thoughtfully to enhance the dish's appearance. For instance, drizzling hot sauce in a deliberate pattern can add a pop of color and indicate spiciness, enticing viewers to imagine the flavors. If you’re photographing a bottle, pay close attention to fingerprints and highlights. 

5. Color and Contrast

Colors play a crucial role in food photography, evoking emotions and appetites. Consider the color wheel when selecting dishes and props—complementary colors (opposite on the wheel) can create a vibrant and harmonious composition, while analogous colors (next to each other) offer a more subtle, cohesive look. Contrast, both in colors and textures, helps the main dish stand out and appear more appetizing.

6. Focus and Depth of Field

Controlling focus and depth of field directs the viewer's attention to specific areas of the photograph. A shallow depth of field can isolate the main dish while blurring the background, adding a sense of depth and emphasizing texture. Experiment with different focal points to highlight details like steam rising from a bowl of hot soup or the texture of a hot sauce bottle. 

7. Props Scale and Size

Props can be used to let viewers know about the size of a product. Use props that are appropriately sized—a small plate might make a portion look larger, while an oversized fork can add whimsy or drama. You should ensure that props don't overshadow the food but rather complement its presentation.

8. Textures and Details

Macro photography techniques can highlight intricate details like the grains of sea salt sprinkled on a caramel dessert or the glossiness of hot sauce on a crispy taco shell. Close-up shots invite viewers to imagine the taste and feel of the food.

9. Storytelling

Food photography tells a story – whether it's the preparation process, cultural significance, or the enjoyment of a meal. Consider the narrative behind the dish and convey it through composition, props, and styling. Incorporating elements like hands reaching for a slice of pizza or steam rising from a bowl of ramen can add authenticity and engage viewers on a deeper level.

10. Editing and Post-Processing

Post-processing enhances the final look of your food photography. Adjusting white balance, exposure, and contrast can refine colors and tones to match your vision, and showcase the brand.

Learn More

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D.C. Event Photography: A Visit to the Embassy
You never know where event photography is going to take you. In January, we were honored to be invited to the Danish embassy for a special ceremony.

I think my fellow business owners know what I mean when I say that every once in a while, a job comes around that reminds you why you started your business in the first place.

For me, one of those moments came when we received an event photography inquiry for a “high level order” ceremony taking place on January 16.

The ceremony was for the Order of the Dannebrog, a Danish order of chivalry first instituted in 1671. The ceremony was to be held in honor of Congressman Hoyer of Maryland at the Danish Embassy.. 

Before her abdication, Her Majesty the Queen, Margrethe the Second decided to bestow the Knight’s Cross of the First Order of Dannebrog upon Congressman Hoyer for his contributions to the warm friendship between Denmark and the United State. Presided over by the Danish Ambassador, Jesper Møller Sørensen, the ceremony was attended by many of Hoyer’s associates and coworkers. 

Needless to say, it was an absolute honor to capture this event! 

The Danish Ambassador presenting Congressman Hoyer with Knight’s Cross of the First Order of Dannebrog.

For me, event photography is about more than documentation. It’s about preservation. 

When I book an event, I endeavor to know everything about it. Who’s going? What’s the occasion? How does it all connect? That’s how you capture the essence of an event and ensure that all imagery is packed with meaning. 

If someone is accepting an award, make sure to get photos of their family members clapping. When two VIPs arrive, document the handshake. Watch the expressions of guests when they speak to each other. Capture the smiles (and for god’s sake, don’t photograph people when they’re eating).

Congressman Hoyer's wife after receiving "thanks" in his acceptance speech.

When I arrived at the embassy, the first question I asked my contact was “Who are the event VIPs?” and “Are there any must-have photos I don’t know about yet?”. 

And that’s how I learned that Wes Moore, the governor of Maryland was attending and would be giving a speech in honor of Congressman Hoyer. 

Did I mention how excited I was to be attending? 

Governor Moore greeting the Danish Ambassador
The Governor of Maryland, the First Lady of Maryland, and Congressman Hoyer

Overall, the event was a success. We able to capture key moments with the VIPs, document all the guests, and provide expedited photo processing for next day delivery (it was LONG night). 

Heres to more adventures!

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Should You Update Your Brand Photography?
Brand photography can be an essential part of your marketing and sales strategy. But only if you do it right.

Despite what you might be expecting, we’re not here to tell you that “all the time” is a great time for new brand photography. In fact, there are many instances where we’d caution against it.  

Brand photography is a worthwhile investment that can improve your brand awareness, engagement, and reputation by leaps and bounds. But, if you don’t know how to plan a shoot with strategy in mind, then it may just leave people confused. 

We’re not in the business of leaving our clients pretty, but functionally useless, photos.

Whether you are a small business with limited resources, or a large company with a dedicated marketing team – a brand photoshoot should be approached with clear goals in mind. 

That means understanding your audience, your messaging, and your story. 

So, when would we recommend you update your brand photography? 

Signs it’s time for new brand photography:

1. To accompany a rebrand. 

When your business undergoes a rebrand, it's like a fresh canvas. Brand photography plays a crucial role in conveying the new brand identity, values, and messaging. Whether it's updating your logo, changing your color palette, or refining your brand voice, fresh imagery that aligns with these changes helps solidify your rebranding efforts.

2. To support a promotion or campaign

Promotions and campaigns are key moments for businesses to capture attention and drive conversions. High-quality brand photography that resonates with your promotional message can significantly enhance the impact of your marketing efforts. Whether it's a seasonal sale, a special event, or a limited-time offer, tailored visuals can elevate your promotional strategy and attract your target audience.

3. When launching a new website

Your website is often the first point of contact for potential customers. Investing in professional brand photography during a website launch ensures that your online presence reflects the quality and professionalism of your brand. From homepage banners to product/service pages, compelling visuals can enhance user experience, increase engagement, and build trust with visitors.

4. To advertise a new product or service offering 

Introducing a new product or service is an exciting opportunity to showcase its features, benefits, and unique selling points. Brand photography allows you to create captivating imagery that highlights what sets your offering apart from the competition. Whether it's through product shots, lifestyle images, or visual storytelling, effective photography can drive interest and encourage conversions.

5. If your target audience has changed 

Businesses evolve, and so do their target audiences. When your target demographic shifts or expands, it's essential to reassess your brand imagery to ensure it resonates with the new audience. Fresh brand photography that reflects the preferences, values, and aspirations of your target audience can strengthen your connection with them and drive brand loyalty.

6. If you’ve added new team members

Team dynamics play a significant role in shaping a brand's identity. When new team members join or roles change within your organization, updating your brand photography and headshots to include the latest team compositions fosters transparency and authenticity. It also showcases the people behind your brand, humanizing your business and building rapport with customers.

7. To get seasonal content

Seasonal campaigns and content are opportunities to stay relevant and engage with your audience in a timely manner. Whether it's holiday-themed promotions, seasonal collections, or seasonal events, incorporating seasonal elements into your brand photography adds a fresh and relatable touch. It shows that your brand is current, attentive to trends, and actively engaging with customers throughout the year.

8. Your business is growing and Iphone or stock images just doesn’t cut it

As your business expands and evolves, generic or amateurish visuals no longer reflect the professionalism and quality of your brand. Investing in professional brand photography ensures that your visual content maintains a high standard, aligns with your brand aesthetics, and reinforces your brand's credibility and expertise.

9. Your old photos are overused and it’s time for something new

Just as outdated content can be a turn-off for customers, overused brand photography can lead to visual fatigue and reduced impact. Refreshing your imagery periodically keeps your brand image dynamic, prevents stagnation, and maintains audience interest. It's an opportunity to showcase new products, services, team members, or brand initiatives.

Brand photography is not just about capturing visually appealing images; it's about strategically leveraging visuals to convey your brand's identity, values, and offerings. By investing in brand photography at the right moments, you can strengthen brand awareness, engagement, and reputation, driving meaningful connections with your target audience. At Flaire, we specialize in crafting compelling brand stories through imagery that resonates and inspires action.

Are you ready for compelling imagery that converts? Check out our services below! 

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Canvas Rebel Feature: Meet Abigail

Last month we were so excited for our owner and founder, Abigail Lague, to be featured in an article for Canvas Rebel! The article explored the reality of starting a business, and what it's like to work as a full-time photographer.

Check out a short snippet below: 

"Hi Abigail, thanks for joining us today. Earning a full time living from one’s creative career can be incredibly difficult. Have you been able to do so and if so, can you share some of the key parts of your journey and any important advice or lessons that might help creatives who haven’t been able to yet?"

You don’t become a photographer because you want easy money. You do it because it’s your passion, and you can’t imagine doing anything else.

I spent my second year as a full-time business owner with renewed determination, and focused on really putting my business out there. That meant attending as many networking events as possible, fostering strong client relationships, and looking for more new ways to market myself.

I also took a long hard look at my business. Did my messaging resonate with larger brands? Did it look professional? In short, it did not.

That year, I was able to double my revenue. I also spent half the year working with a marketing agency to build a new brand, and a new website.

After months of hard work, I launched Flaire.

By moving away from a personal brand, I separated myself from the many wedding photographers in the area. I also wanted to demonstrate to corporate and commercial clients that this wasn’t just a solo operation anymore. I had a team of photographers I trusted to assist and lead their own shoots.

I started taking myself, and my brand, more seriously. And it paid off.

Within the first three months, we worked with two senators and a governor. We’ve also started regularly booking branding and event shoots with companies bringing in over $20M yearly.

There is still work to do (and an actual brick-and-mortar studio on my wish list), but the business has blossomed. We are on track to double revenue for the third year in a row, and I couldn’t be happier.

It was a long and hard journey, but it was worth it.

Check out the full article here! 

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