Food styling is all in the details!

Food styling is all in the details!

WAKE UP ALL THE SENSES WHEN SHOOTING YOUR FOOD

When is comes to creating jaw-dropping, gorgeous images , FOOD STYLING is CRUCIAL! It’s an art to make food look attractive in front of the camera. It’s what makes people drool when they look at your food images.

But it’s not only about making food look pretty. It’s also about visualizing the taste, waking up the senses, your taste buds including! Your task is to ignite your viewers imagination and create an impulse to act upon what they are viewing.

When you walk into a bakery, all of your senses are bombarded at once, right? Your eyes can see all the colors, textures and shapes of baked goods, you can smell freshly baked bread, hear the crust crunch and feel the texture of it while you hold a sandwich in your hand.

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Food photography should create the same experience – the hard part is, you have to do it all through your viewer’s eyes. So, let’s talk about the food styling details that create the sense of vitality, energy and visual excitement.

The truth is, food styling takes a lot of thought, time and EFFORT! When I say effort I mean – taking the time to plan how you are going to approach the dish preparation and putting it all together. It also means, going the extra mile to source the best ‘photo-worthy’ ingredients. And taking all of the time needed to properly prepare the dish.

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Getting the freshest ingredients possible is of course non-negotiable – but I am sure you already know that. It happened on several occasions that together with a client we swapped the ingredients in the dish for something else (also delicious) rather than use a not-so-good-looking produce item that was available. We just knew it wouldn’t look attractive in the image and it that case the photograph wouldn’t encourage anyone to cook the dish.

When I say fresh I also mean, your job is to keep food ‘alive’ when photographing it. There is always a lot happening on set, so make sure that you always look back at the food to check if it still looks tiptoe, before capturing your final shot.

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Always style the subject dish for the angle you are shooting to show off different components. Some dishes might work great from several angles but you need to trust your visual instincts here. Some dishes, sadly, won’t. When styling a dish when a client asks me to do two different angles of the same dish, I style the dish twice – one for overhead and a different one for 3/4 angle.

And just last little thought, my friends! Try to keep your photo styling as natural as possible otherwise your dish will look forced. Imperfections are perfect. Embrace them!

A Guide to Healthy Road Trip Eating

A Guide to Healthy Road Trip Eating

Whether weʼre searching for natural starlight or big city lights, bouncing around bayous or buttes, or headed home for a family reunion, a packed car and a full tank of gas can be the start of a great adventure.

If you try to live consciously and you care about a healthy gut and a healthy wallet, dining on the road can be a challenge. But eating healthy, affordable, plant-based foods on the road is possible! Today we're going to share some tips and tricks that experts have to enhance their road tripping. Hopefully, these ideas help you as you plan your trip or think about hitting the road.

Pack Your Mobile Pantry — A Checklist for Healthy Eating on the Road

Healthy travel starts at home. Before you set out, gathering supplies can help get you on the path to success. Depending on where you're going, take some or all the following items to reduce your road trip footprint and maintain a healthy eating lifestyle. Take a look at this list and see if you get any ideas for creating your own checklist.

Health Conscious and Trash-Reduced Travel Checklist:

  • Reusable water bottle (preferably glass or aluminum)

  • Travel mug

  • Sporks

  • Storage containers with snap-on lids (Trust me, these can make a huge difference.)

  • Reusable food and sandwich wraps

  • Portable water filter

  • On-the-go blender

  • Can opener (I recommend “smooth edge” models that unseal rather than cut your cans.)

  • Small cutting board and folding knife

  • A small cooler and ice packs (not necessary but can be super useful)

  • Also, eating on the go often produces a lot of waste. So pack an extra bag or two to store your trash or recycling.

On the Road with a Healthy Gut and Active Brain

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Traveling can be rough on the gut! When we disrupt our meal patterns and normal activity level, we need to pay more attention than usual to maintaining a healthy gut. Road tripping demands planning. So itʼs best not to rely entirely on what you can find on along the way. Your gut is happiest when you give it at least some familiar foods. Consider bringing the following from home, and think about what must-have items would be on your list:

Probiotics, the patron saint of travelers. Probiotics keep you and your car both moving in the right direction. Non-refrigerated versions are a travelerʼs trick.

  • Leftovers. Start your stomach out with what it already knows. Healthy leftovers keep well at room (or car) temperature for at least a meal or two. And they can make your first day of travel feel familiar. You can even use those glass jars to pack complete meals, like salads.

  • Flax seeds and/or chia seeds. Put the smooth in your smoothies (and put that blender to work). Flax and chia seeds are best and most nutritious when stored in airtight containers and refrigerated (or put in a cooler) after opened. (These organic flax packs are convenient and donʼt require refrigeration. And they have packs of chia seeds, too.)

  • Fruit and Vegetables. Oranges and apples travel well, as do snap peas and pre-cut carrots and celery sticks. Each of these snackables gives you gut-healthy fiber.

  • Ginger. Whether you prefer making ginger tea or adding it to meals, fresh ginger root is great for the travelerʼs tummy. (Tip: Peel and cut up some very thin ginger slices before you leave, but give them some air to breathe, possibly in paper bags, because if theyʼre in plastic, theyʼll get moldy unless refrigerated.)

  • Spices. Bring your favorites for both flavor and health-boosting properties.

  • Instant Mojo. Organic instant coffee, matcha powder, tea (herbal or high octane), cocoa powder, and mushroom powders in combination or alone are great for keeping you focused and limiting the trash you create. (Note: Coffee shops, convenience stores, and grocery stores often give away hot water for free or cheap if you bring your own cup. Donʼt forget to tip!)

  • Nuts and seeds. Packed with minerals, protein, and healthy fats to keep you full and feeling great, nuts and seeds are perfect snacks. Or you can use them to create meals on the go. You can also soak your nuts in water overnight in glass jars and then blend them with your blender as a healthy alternative to processed dairy and non-dairy milks that need refrigeration.

Create Your Road Map through Food Desert, USA

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If youʼre traveling in the U.S., a desert is just a short drive away in just about any direction, from just about anywhere. A food desert, that is.

According to a report in US News and World Report, “food deserts are prevalent in the Mid-Atlantic and the South,” but “the USDA projects that large swathes of the Midwest and West Coast also struggle to meet Americansʼ food accessibility needs.”

Expect to traverse a food desert. And prepare. Do your homework. Strategize your route and find out where the oases are — and where they arenʼt. One thing you can do is research farmers markets in towns and cities. (Hereʼs a link to help you find options in the U.S.) If possible, aim to travel through those places during hours when the markets are open. (Be sure to look at seasonal hours and markets, so you donʼt find yourself out of luck).

Plus, visiting local vendors can be a great way to get to know towns and connect with the community, even if you are just passing through.

And talking to locals can help you find other options, like farm-to-table restaurants or places you wouldnʼt find online. And then, when in doubt, head for the nearest urban center. Youʼll be likely to encounter recognizable grocery chains, including specialty chains with familiar choices. Shopping for your own groceries and creating your own meals is typically better than stopping an easily available spot along the way.

Expect Surprises and Embrace Flexibility

The road sometimes demands compromise. The more prepared you are and the more you know about what resources you have, the better you can feel about the choices you make.

While these retailers may or may not be your cup of tea, they are an option and one to keep in mind on the road. Most big grocery chains now have their own organic labels and you can rely on finding these products at affiliate grocers nationwide. If you want to stop at restaurants along the way, the Happy Cow app (and website) can also be a useful resource on the road. Use this tool to find nearby vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Youʼll also see reviews, cost, and often a link to each menu and website all in one place.

When you plan ahead and map your gut-healthy, culinary, cross-country course, youʼll save time on the road. And youʼll have more chances to take that next exit off of the highway and find a scenic spot to picnic and refresh… See you on the road!

Why writing the perfect email is critical for your business success

Why writing the perfect email is critical for your business success

When done correctly, email marketing serves as a tried-and-true way to get readers to download content, convert prospects on special offers, and upsell existing customers. And according to Econsultancy, "Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers "excellent" to "good" ROI,” which proves that this area of marketing is certainly worth your attention.

But these positive results don’t just happen by chance. They can only be obtained through optimizing your emails. That’s why it’s important to focus your time and attention on email marketing in addition to social media, paid advertising, and search engine optimization. It’s one form of marketing that’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and rightfully so.

With emails, you can foster a deeper, one-on-one relationship with your audience. By making a few simple changes, your emails can appear more personal and authentic than any other marketing efforts you undertake. Plus, the truth is, your target audience wants to hear from you via email. “72% of people surveyed actually prefer to receive promotional content through email, as compared to 17% who prefer social media," according to MarketingSherpa.

Why Your Emails Need to Be Optimized

It’s important to understand what exactly email optimization entails and why it’s so crucial for your campaign.

In the same way that you optimize your website for search engines, your goal with email optimization is to prompt your readers to take action. When your email arrives in their inbox, readers have two options: open it or delete it. If your email is not properly optimized, chances are, it will fall into the trash bin, and you’ve missed your chance to connect. On the flip side, when you optimize your emails, you encourage your reader to not only open the email, but also read it in its entirety -- and complete your desired action.

How to Determine the Goal of Your Emails

To optimize effectively, you need to have a strategy in place. This means you’ll want to start with an overarching goal of what you hope to accomplish with your brand’s email marketing.

Are you looking to increase sales? Engage with your current subscribers more? While it’s perfectly fine to have more than one goal, you should ensure that each email only focuses on one goal at a time so you’re not overwhelming your readers.

Speaking of which, it’s important that you also narrow the focus of every email so readers aren’t pulled in multiple directions.

Try to answer questions such as:

• What are we trying to accomplish with this email?

• What actions do we want readers to take?

• How will we prompt readers to take this action? (i.e., using buttons, CTAs, or subject line)

Once your goal is determined, move on to what metrics you’ll use to track to measure your success. If growing your audience is your goal, keep an eye on your subscriber list growth. When you want to send your readers to your latest opt-in guide, the number of leads sourced from email should be a key metric.

Every marketer should also pay attention to:

• Clickthrough rate

• Conversion rate

• Bounce rate

• List growth rate

• Email sharing/forwarding rate

• Overall ROI

Email is one of your brand’s most powerful marketing tools, so it’s essential that every email you send is optimized. By doing this, you’ll increase your open rates, clickthrough rates, and engagement with your target audience.

You’ll also deliver highly relevant messages to the right people so that your brand builds trust and solidifies your relationship with your customers. All of these factors will ultimately encourage growth for your brand.

To do this effectively, start with your subject line and work your way through the above-listed checkpoints every time you send out an email. After a few times, creating optimized emails will become second nature for you. Watch those metrics, and you’ll start to see the rewards of your hard work in no time!

Vegetables make a move to the center of the plate

Vegetables make a move to the center of the plate

The “greening” of the American menu is the major trend of the moment, as chefs direct their creative energies toward produce. Innovation around vegetables has moved from the soup, salad and side dish categories directly to the center of the plate. No longer a consolation prize for meat-deprived diners, the vegetable entrée is now fully realized, providing taste, texture and satisfaction.. Using the same culinary techniques and touches previously lavished on meats and seafood has enhanced the appeal and raised the coolness factor of vegetables of all kinds.

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Veg Focused

Vegan and vegetarian restaurants have moved from the fringes to the mainstream, and some have won serious plaudits along the way. Many forward-thinking restaurants are now dedicated to disproving the notion that vegan food is expensive and bland, introducing items such as sandwich-based fare like the PLT, grilled plantain tossed in jerk sauce, lettuce and tomato, drizzled in sauce and served on a Hawaiian roll.

Chains are getting in on the action, too. Veggie Grill is headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., operates 37 locations around the country and calls itself a “plant-based zone” free of any animal products.

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Veg Forward Thinking

Mass-market acceptance of vegetables as options to crave is being influenced by an emerging class of fast-casual operations, some of whom declare their greenness right in their names in order to cast a halo of health over their menu offerings.

Arguably the most imaginative use of vegetables as main dishes is found at broad-menu operations that cater to omnivores. They’ve moved way beyond the conventional vegetable plate, a culinarily lazy entrée assortment of the day’s side dishes.

If you have a vegetable product line that you market, or run a restaurant with many veg dishes on the menu, we should chat… contact us for your free evaluation and a discussion of how we can help elevate your brand and your products.

The biggest benefits of using social media for your small business

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A recent report from social media management platform Hootsuite found that there are now more than 3 billion people using social networks across the internet. And according to Hootsuite, more people follow brands on social media than follow celebrities. On Instagram alone 80 percent of people follow at least one business.

But for some reason, when small business owners think about managing social media accounts for their business, they cringe, they make excuses for why they can’t and sometimes they just don’t do it at all. Social media marketing for your business isn’t scary at all. And, it’s really important for your business.

Here are some of the biggest benefits of using social media for your small business:

It’s an easy way to put your brand in front of the world

We live in a world where people want to know what they’re getting into before they ever step foot in a business. By having updated social media accounts, these people will understand your business and this aids their ability to determine if it’s a place they want to work with.

It’s inexpensive

Marketing costs money in almost all forms. But, social media marketing can cost little to nothing, and still make a huge impact for your business. By having a plan, using relevant hashtags and more — you can use social media to reach new potential customers every single day.

It keeps your business top-of-mind

How many times have you seen a social media post and then later purchased a product or visited a store as a result of it? Probably more times than you realize.

For example, we have certain local restaurants and bars that we like to frequent, and when they post a special or a limited-time offer, chances are that will trigger an outing of the studio crew to take advantage of the offer.

When you are posting regularly on social media, you’re creating this top-of-mind awareness for your brand.

It can help you generate leads

Service-based businesses: this one is for you. Right now, Instagram and Linkedin are the two networks that service-based businesses generate the most new leads on. If you’re sharing your brand and expertise in a way that makes people think “I could totally use this service,” then you’ll find that social media does half of the work for you.

It can help you generate more web traffic

In the case of many small businesses, traffic to your website is a necessity — especially if you’re selling your products or services from your website. If that’s the case for your business, make sure that your social media doesn’t replace your website, but supplements it. Create offers and other content that lives on your website, then use your social media networks to promote that content and drive interaction. Make sure your social media posts drive the users that read them back to your website so they have the opportunity to learn more about you and your business.

It’s a way to find new content

We hear it from our clients all the time: It’s hard to come up with enough content to post on social media every day. But the great thing about social media is that your customers can create content for you.

Put signs around your business letting people know that you want to see their photos that they take during their experience. Ask them to use a particular hashtag or tag your business in the photos. Then, you can reuse the content that you didn’t need to take the time to produce.

You can communicate quickly

Things come up… stuff happens. And in those instances, social media is an excellent way to quickly and efficiently communicate a message to your audience about what’s going on. Say a major storm came through and you lost power to your restaurant; social media gives you the instant forum to communicate that to your loyal customer base.

You can keep an eye on the competition

Knowing what your competitors are up to is just a part of running a business. Use social media to know what other businesses in your area or industry are up to so that if necessary, you can react and potentially combat the competition with an offer or special of your own.

In conclusion

Even though our team has spent decades in the photography business, we’ve also made a concerted effort in the last 5 years to build a social media presence for our studio and our creative consulting business, and it’s given us an entirely new channel from which to market our services and also to promote our clients. If you’re unsure how to get started, our strategic marketing team can help… contact us today for a free evaluation of your company’s current social media situation.