05 Aug AmeRAWcan Bistro Food Shoot
I have the pleasure of working with a brand-new restaurant, even before it’s open the doors for business. It goes without saying that there is a lot of time, effort, and money that goes into getting a business like this launched, but it’s critical it is done right, and thankfully this owner understands that. It’s always going to be way harder to just slap something together real quick for the sake of speeding up processes, and then coming back around and tackling things all over again once the dust settles. Aside from this being a super unprofessional approach, it’s a killer on the business’ branding momentum. Right out of the gates, the day a business opens up, people will associate things with that place. The food, the menus, the music playing, the signage, the customer service, and even the color of the paint on the walls. You start changing all that stuff up a couple months after opening for business, changing your own consistency and branding, I think that you’ll loose a lot of consistency in your customers, especially your recognizability. Besides, you wanna blow the socks off of your customers from day one, give them a true reason to keep coming back. You don’t cut corners to quickly open your doors only to tell your customers things will get better here soon, so hang tight.
In meeting with Darrin, the owner of Amerawcan Bistro, I knew right away that he wanted to make his place truly unique. Aside from him already offering a rare style of food and a great menu, he wanted the entire customer experience to be something people talk about after they eat there. We sat down and mapped out a branding style and message we wanted to send, in a visual sense, to accomplish this goal. I LOVE working with businesses in creating a branding image. Whether I am helping them with more than just photography or not, it’s important that I fully understand what the end product needs to look like, as it’s critical for properly executed photography. Photography produced with the final branding goal in-mind is clutch. Understanding what styles and colors menus, logos, and websites use will influence how the photography is executed. When done right, the photos are dropped right into the marketing material seamlessly, and looks flat-out impressive. You look like you got your shit together, and the truth is, when it looks like that, you probably do. It speaks volumes from the rest of your business, “come eat here, we care, we are professionals, what can we do to make this a better place for you.” Honestly, I was super excited about being a part of this project from the beginning, and not having to worry about transitioning the business out of an old marketing image. A clean slate.
My main projects are photo-based, however, I do a fair bit of web and graphic design as well. The design aspect is something that flows really well when there is well-minded photography to start with, so I don’t mind doing it. Also, by Darrin tasking me with the designing aspects in tandem with the photography ensures consistency across the board.
Step one, the photography, the starting point for this visual production. The flow of the menu, website, hell… even the business cards will hang off of the photography skeleton. Darrin and his chef team prepared a number of food arrangements and brought them into the studio. This is where it all starts, whatever Darrin and his team like visually here, meaning how we setup and light the food will determine the flow of everything else for marketing. It being a raw, organic food restaurant, my mind went to “clean, simple, no distractions.” White seamless was the answer, a white abyss, just the food as the focal point. Aside from this being a super clean look, it makes graphic design a breeze. The first concern I brought up to the team was that all the food being on white plates, the white-on-white could be a little much, and edging on the plate would only be detectable where shadows fell. I shot a couple, let them review, they like it, so we pushed-on with that concept. Turned out pretty smooth, the plate only visible by the lower shadow. These photos require little to no work to integrate them right into design work.
After the photos came the menu design. Maybe the coolest part of this project, the menu is displayed on an iPad. Each table has an iPad with a menu that they customers swipe through from page to page. Pretty fun project. The business is just being born, and I’m sure there are many more photo shoots and cool things around the corner for Amerawcan Bistro. They should be opening their doors any day, come check them out at 745 St. Helens, Tacoma, WA.
Here is a page of the menu, along with someone flipping through it on an iPad.