Recently, I had a referral for food photography from a marketing team I knew, for a mother/daughter team launching a brand of organic granola. They had quite a low photography budget, but the idea was exciting – I had always dreamed of shooting a bowl of cereal, and Nita was itching to up her food styling game with it too. Yummy San Francisco food photography!Since the company didn’t have an art director, and were just beginning to develop their brand identity, we had full creative control over how to design and photograph each flavor of granola. While that could truly paralyze some photographers, we were thrilled!Nita and I as a team have a lot of experience creative directing photography from start to finish for less sophisticated clients. If a project that has too low of a budget than desired, but sounds exciting, one can find other great reasons to take on a shoot than monetary compensation. And especially when it is food, compensation can also be delivered in ready-to-eat form!Despite the challenges that can arise for less money than we are used to for so much work, sometimes getting to stretch your artistic abilities is worth the exercise. Proving you can tackle such an audacious challenge to both to yourself and the clients, also can provide a tertiary advantage of getting to show it off to existing clients – which can further pay off in much bigger ways down the road than the original small project. It’s like testing for a portfolio shoot, but getting paid for it, then winning future business from both the portfolio shoot and those you show it off to. That’s a possible big win all around!We started by taking the names of each flavor variety and breaking them down into themes. “Morning Magic” was meant for kids, with brightly colored chocolate-covered sunflower seeds. We imagined a warm, fall day of a child at a beach house, filling up before looking for more seashells. “Ageless Wisdom” conjured up an idea of a zen-inspired morning, while ‘Chocolate Jubilee” invited a sophisticated masculine take on morning traditions.“First Love” was romantic, encouraging sharing a meal with your beau, smiling all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Finally “Totally Free” summoned relaxing memories at a vacation cabin, with fresh fruit and honey.Nita sourced all the props and we set about to create each set, winning the client’s approval every step of the way. As we nibbled on several months’ worth of the product the client gave us as further compensation, we created small printed booklets to send out to other clients, and received requests for proposals in response for other projects.
Not every project will make you rich. When sometimes you want to say “goodbye” to a low-paid offer, saying ¡Hola! to Granola paid off for us – and our kid’s bellies – more than this first small shoot. Delicious!