Imagery is a necessary and important component of building brand resonance and brand equity. We want our imagery to tell a story, to express brand meaning and engage with our consumers to solidify brand relationships. Photos are a huge part of brand imagery so it's integral that they suit the brand.
Juanita's Kitchen's brand imagery feels homestyle and rustic, so I needed to take photos and process them to fit that aesthetic. I'm going to go through a few of my Lightroom settings to show how I processed the photos to get the look and feel I was after.
Gear used for the shoot: X-Pro2 + XF35mm f1.4 (50mm FF equiv.), Lightroom CC 6, VSCO Film Pack 1.
I used the VSCO film preset Kodak Portra 800++ (sometimes 800 HC) as a starting point and made tweaks after applying the preset. However, the stock preset settings look like this:
This preset works well for a number of reasons:
- The slight decrease in highlights prevent the light from being too white on the food and blowing out the detail
- The increase in shadows brings out detail on textures from tortillas
- The slight bump in saturation pulls out a little more green from parsley or lime
Also, looking at the tone curve, we are lifting the blacks to give it that tiny bit of film-like haze. In other words, the blacks aren't totally black, more like a very dark brown.
One of my favourite things about the Kodak Portra presets is the grain. As most of the photos were taken between 1-4PM on a cloudy Melbourne day using only natural light, I was already on ISO 800-1000. X-Trans sensors are very clean high ISO performers, so I wasn't going to get that nice Fujifilm grain. Without the grain, I felt the photos looked a little too clean. The addition of the grain from the presets looked great and really added a lot of texture to the polished stone table, food, and glossy jars. I found that adding grain to glossy textures really helps to move away from a clean and polished look. Juanita's Kitchen is homestyle cooking, I didn't want the photos to feel like they were trying to be fine dining.
I also had a few photos that I wanted to put on Instagram right as they were leaving the kitchen during service. Not having enough time to process in Lightroom, I Instead transferred the photos from the X-Pro2 to my phone, and using the VSCO cam app I picked a filter, made some cropping tweaks, a few colour adjustments and they were ready for social media in a couple of seconds.
The shoot was a great learning experience as I have never really shot products before. Getting photos in the kitchen during a service was also a very interesting experience. Next time I would really like to experiment with some studio lighting just for more control.