For The Love Of Food Photography | Brand Education for Restaurants

Food photography and images have always been vital when marketing a restaurant brand. A professional food Photographer has the ability to create “Craveable” pictures for restaurants. We all see food before we eat it, images can help peak customer’s interest, which in turn can drive customer traffic. With the continued emphasis by brands to utilize both social media and digital as part of a content marketing strategy, food images may just be more valuable than ever before.

Everyone feels like a photographer these days, it is understandable with the popularity of digital cameras and smartphones. The ability to capture moments in time and share them instantaneously with friends and followers is now ingrained in our culture. Instagram itself has changed the way brands and consumers interact, especially for restaurants. User-generated content can be great for engagement, but when it comes to marketing a restaurant brand it is hard to replace the skills of a professional food photographer.

I have had the pleasure to work with many photographers, Mark Boughton is one photographer in particular that I respect and truly appreciate his work. Having worked together multiple times, I now consider Mark a friend and I asked if he’d mind answering 12 questions about his craft.

1.CAN YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF MARK? 

I am Mark Boughton and I have had my own studio here in Nashville, TN for going on 13 years and have been a food photographer for over 17.

2. WHAT ARE SOME RESTAURANT BRANDS THAT YOU HAVE WORKED WITH? 

My first food client was Aladdin Food service product. Since, then I have worked with many big Chain Restaurants; Captain D’s, Shoney’s, Damon’s, Stoney River, Fazoli’s, O’Charley’s & Cracker Barrel to name a few.

3. WHY DO YOU THINK GREAT FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY IS IMPORTANT WHEN MARKETING RESTAURANT BRANDS?

The best way for a restaurant to sell its self is through quality photography. The YUM factor! In a commercial or a print ad in a magazine you have just seconds to grab the attention of your audience and entice them to come eat with you.

If you show them a beautiful warm and juice steak, it is more likely to draw them in than if you show a steak that is over cooked and dry. Words can only do so much to help create a craving, a good example (featured image, above) would be the Grouper photo for Husk Nashville used in The Local Palate Magazine.

4. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE VALUE OF A FOOD STYLIST, AND TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY DO?

Perfect segue, which brings me to the need of a great food stylist. What they bring to the table is the knowledge of how the meal should be prepared to look its best on set. The stylist will take the build or recipes from the restaurant and cook the items in a way that will make them look the most appetizing. And no… that milk is not glue! LOL

5. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS IMPORTANT FOR A RESTAURANT TO CONSIDER BEFORE SELECTING A PHOTOGRAPHER TO WORK WITH?

I think there are several variables in choosing one photographer over another:

  1. How well does the photographer work with others?
  2. Can the photographer pull together a team to fulfill the clients needs?
  3. How many shots will we get done in a day’s time?
  4. For me, the most important factor is will I have fun working with them. If the client is have a good time and there is music and laughing going on during the shoot it just makes for a more creative environment.

6. SHARE WITH US SOME COOL PROJECTS, PLACES OR CHEFS YOU’VE RECENTLY WORKED WITH? 

One of my most recent projects was an opportunity to shoot in Alaska for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. For 8 days we were on several different styles of fishing boats. That I would have to say is one of the highlights of my career. Getting out and meeting and photographing the people who make my industry happen has become a new passion of mine.

“These are the folks that make it all happen.” – Mark Boughton
This photo is part of the work Mark did for The Alaskan Seafood Marketing Institute

Keeping it closer to home I have been working on new images for Arrington Vineyards to be used on their website and for email marketing. Recently, I have been working on cookbooks for Thomas Nelson, a local publishing company. Working with local cookbook authors and food writers has been a real blast for me.

7. YOU CAN BE HONEST, DO YOU GET HUNGRY WHEN SHOOTING FOOD?

I am always hungry! LOL. No, I do a pretty good job at keeping my cravings under control. Although the other day I was doing a pie shoot and lets just say I had my cravings fulfilled. LOL! UM, PIE!

8. YOU ARE KNOWN FOR SHOOTING WITH NATURAL LIGHT WHY DO YOU PREFER TO SHOOT THAT WAY?

Through my years as an assistant I was fortunate to work with many diverse photographers and learn their styles. Now when approaching a shoot I take that knowledge and put my own twist on it. Though I love to shoot natural light some time you just can’t get it. So I learned how to create natural looking light using strobes. Using just one strobe is all I need. There is only one sun so you should train your self to use one strobe light when shooting food. Sometimes I need more, but if I can do it with one that’s how I like it.

9. HOW HAS DIGITAL RETOUCHING CHANGED THE INDUSTRY? HAS DIGITAL MADE IT EASIER OR HARDER?

Digital Photography has made my industry harder and easier at the same time. What I mean is being able to retouch images on the fly during the shoot has made the production side of my industry move much more quickly, Thanks to the Mac!  The down side to that is your clients expect their images just as fast. What once was a week turn around is now just a day or two.

10. I THINK THERE IS A HUGE OPPORTUNITY FOR BRANDS TO REPURPOSE PHOTOGRAPHY.

ARE YOU SEEING MORE CLIENTS AND BRANDS YOU WORK WITH REPURPOSING IMAGES FROM PHOTO SHOOTS TO USE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIGITAL MARKETING?

YES, I believe Digital has also made it easier for companies to use social media. I use it almost everyday and I am sure your readers do too. In fact we are using it right now with this blog. With all the different outlets there are to grab people’s attention it is only natural to use and reuse the images that I produce for them. It’s just one more way to reach their audience. For me it’s always fun to open up Facebook or my email and see my images being used in a digital advertisement or in an email blasts.

An example of Mark’s Ground Glass Photo Series, Arrington Vineyards Harvest – Arrington, TN

11. WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING ON MORE IN THE FUTURE?

When I started my career as a photographer I wanted nothing more than to be an artist. Two years ago I started building a body of work that combined both my love of food photography and art. I call it Ground Glass Photography. Using a traditional medium format view camera and digital together I have produced a new take on photographing food.

This technique allows me to create an old world look not unlike a painting all the while giving the viewer a new vision of the subject. I have several clients that have allowed me the opportunity to use this style to produce images for their companies.

12. LAST QUESTION, WHERE CAN MY READERS SEE SOME OF YOUR WORK AND FOLLOW YOU?

You can of course view all my work on my website at Mark Boughton Photography including; food, drink, travel, people and the previously mentioned Ground Glass. I’d love if you would follow me on Instagram or Facebook were you can see some of my most recent projects. You can also find me on LinkedIn were I have my behance website set-up, you can now find me on Google Plus and of course on Twitter @mboughton.

As you can see just like my clients I am utilizing social media, don’t be afraid to reach out to me if you see something you like.

Thanks again Mark for your time. I don’t know about you but I am hungry, what’s for lunch? 

If anyone has questions for Mark or wants to reach out to him for your restaurant’s photography needs please leave a comment below and I will pass them along or you can reach Mark through his website.

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