Charleston Food and Beverage Photographer | Feeling Testy

A few weeks back, food stylist, blogger, editor and author Ashley Strickland Freeman reached out to me to grab lunch. She is joining the flock of uber talented folks that have fled city life to seek out beautiful quite land…. (how do I really feel about moving to Charleston?) Her story was not unlike my own when I took off to Miami in 2006. I made that move with the goal of throwing myself at fate completely and trusting that brave moves with no logic to them could have great rewards. So instantly, I admired Ashley’s bravery, of course. Along with that, during our conversation I learned that she has quite the resume of accomplishments and is coming into this town with an arsenal of knowledge and talent. I’ve dabbled in food before and felt inspired by her visit to do some shooting of my own in the f&b world. Plus, it meant I could cook a feast for my friends later that weekend (sous vide pork tenderloin with a bourbon/caramelized onion/fig/pomegranate/blackberry compote, roasted Mediterranean artichokes and purple sweet potatoes if I remember it all right…. no recipes sorry, I was just winging it)! What’s the good of being a food and beverage photographer if you don’t get to reap the rewards? Come on! Especially in Charleston where the culinary scene puts everyone to shame… I had to try!

So I thought this would be easy, and it turns out, it was (mostly). My biggest challenge after sourcing my props was getting away from product photography. No kidding. I bought all these crazy beautiful ingredients and couldn’t stop photographing the glassware and barware…. So this is how things progressed:

The first setup: Barware. I had a very tasty cocktail that I made for this, a thyme, lemonade, pomegranate, champagne drink. Luckily since this wouldn’t last a few days for me to get time to cook, one of my girlfriends Sharon stopped by to help taste test my work.

The irony of my test shoot of food and beverage becoming a light study on the barware does not escape me. This is totally one of those, “of course I would do that” moments. So happy with the above I decided to explore how some crystal glasses would look. At which point, I spiraled down into the rabbit hole again of exploring the light and shadows and never actually filled the glasses with anything.

At this point, I was hearing myself for the last several years telling anyone who asked if I did personal work a lecture on topics being to broad for me to do that and that I needed limitations if I was ever going to get anywhere. I know myself pretty well when it comes to images.

So the clock was ticking down and it was time (past time) for me to shoot some food and beverage. So I stripped away all the distractions that I could (shadows, accessories, etc) and just started playing with ingredients and light.

 

Then I allowed myself to put back in small accessories.

And after photographing the almost inappropriately sumptuous pears, I called it a wrap. That and by this point I couldn’t let Sharon drink by herself anymore. What kind of friend does that?

So needless to say, I am looking forward to our newest Charlestonian arriving around Thanksgiving. To check out Ashley’s work, visit her website: http://ashleystricklandfreeman.com hopefully we will have the opportunity to work together soon!

 

Charleston Fashion Photographer | Beija Flor Jeans shoot | Kate Benson Photography

If you saw my post with my new business card designs (or my Instagram), you may spot a familiar shot or two here. These were shot for Beija Flor Jeans and the product is truly great. I’m anxiously waiting for it to cool down so I can wear my 3 new pairs (yes, 3!!). These flatter your behind like nothing I’ve seen before, and who doesn’t want that (sure beats that time I bought Burberry Jeans a size too small so my booty would look awesome and broke the zipper)?

I was on set in Miami when they called to discuss a new add campaign. They wanted to do something in the Charleston area but were still playing with ideas. Ironically, when they first suggested jeans on a boat, I was not on board (pun intended). However, the mother/daughter team behind Beija Flor patiently discussed the in’s and out’s of the brand with me so I could help conceptualize the project. There was no formal art director on this shoot so I wanted to make sure that I could deliver the company’s vision and energy. What came across to me clearly was that these jeans were something women had been waiting for. The cuts lifted and accentuated all the right curves and the waistline was high enough to move around in without being restrictive. The product is great and I identified with it quickly!

Part of what the ladies emphasized were their colors. Blues and whites dominated the brand’s palate and soon it became clear that a boat was exactly where to shoot.

Early morning I joined our model Brittany Harvey (with Directions USA), makeup artist Pamela Lesch (with Prime Time Pretty), and the Beija Flor Jeans team, Kathy, Emilie, and Anna at the hotel and then headed over to our fishing yacht.

Throughout the day, the rain held off and gave us some beautiful light. Brittany looked amazing in the jeans and did a fantastic job modeling. She really embraced the energy that fit the brand.

As always, I’m so excited to have new work to share and am really happy to have met and worked with Beija Flor Jeans. I love being a based in Charleston fashion photographer!

Charleston Product Photographer | Amazing Amazon Photography

It may not be common knowledge but I have a second business and website that I’ve been building called Product Photo Lab (PPL for short). The website is still in the works, but there is some basic content up there. Finding openings in my schedule to fix and revise the work in progress that is PPL is really tough. Recently though, despite the website not being as ready as I would like it to be, I’ve been getting contacted and doing some work through it. This isn’t my usual work, as you already may have guessed by the title of this blog post, but I’m really excited that the website is starting to generate some calls, and therefore enthusiastically making time to do the work.

One of the unexpected places that I’ve been contacted to produce images for is Amazon listings. These shoots are usually pretty quick but the clients are looking for something a bit more refined to help their products stand out and hopefully get that coveted number 1 ranking on Amazon.

I’ve learned quite a few of tips on how images sell on Amazon in this process. Products in environments and in use will generally outsell those that are just plain white shots. Additionally, Amazon does require the first shot to be on an all pure white background (which has some specifics to it as well, most of my readers already know what “pure white” is but if you don’t, it’s is a rating of 255 in all color channels). So this has presented interesting challenges (which I love). One client, had a glass water bottle that he sold as a set of 6 and single. Here was what the bottle started with:

Photographing a clear empty bottle isn’t very flattering. So I filled it with water letting the light gradient throughout the inside (trick one).

Then we put very carefully selected liquids into the bottles so the colors wouldn’t get dark and murky (trick two).

Lastly, I asked how he felt about fresh plants in the bottles, which he seemed willing to entertain, and viola!

I was able to product a collection of photographs for him where the shots met Amazon’s specifics but the shots had enough color and vibrancy to pop off the page when compared to other bottles! Happily, he is already on page 1 for his requested search terms and selling like crazy! After discussing what the client needed, I composited 6 of these shots together to create his opening image on Amazon. Here is a look at what he sent me for art direction (also what the competition happens to be showing).

This is what his listing looks like this today:

As I mentioned before, I’ve worked with quite a few Amazon clients lately. Here are a few more shots just to give you an idea what being a product photographer in Charleston is keeping busy with!

This client wanted in environment and shots with a model using the product: