Staying Connected – Episode 2

Welcome to Staying Connected, brought to you by SkyCastle Productions. 

In Staying Connected our goal is to help business owners navigate the uncertain times we’re currently living in, and help provide tips to operating a business when your customers and clients can’t physically be on site. 

In today’s inaugural episode we’re going to be talking about websites, my bread, and butter.

How your website can be a tool to help educate your clients on what you do, and why you do it, but also how your website can keep sales, and operations functions on track. 

I’ll be sharing with you some solutions from my own clients as well as identifying some ideas that may help you. 

Photography with William Twitty

William Twitty is talking with us about the importance of food and product photography in marketing.

William has 10 years of experience as a commercial photographer, he specializes in corporate headshots, food, and product photography. William has been named one of Atlanta’s top 9  food photographers by PeerSpace.

Questions for William

Monday on Staying Connected we talked about how retail and food industries could stay connected with their clients by providing online ordering, and even direct ordering from facebook and instagram. Obviously if your plan is to be sharing products online in a time when a client isn’t able to touch and feel it before they own it means that photography should be done right.


H: What would you suggest for lighting if someone were setting up an impromptu studio to shoot their products in their store? 

W: Always start with the basics. Make sure you are shooting in a dark, light controlled environment. You only want the lighting to be coming from your source and no “spill” or “contamination” from other light sources. This helps keep unwanted reflections and colors down to minimum or none. 

H: In a food shoot, what do you do if the food turns out looking too green, or too yellow in the photos? 

W: That could be a result of an issue with white balance. To the human eye, all light tends to look the same in terms of color. Our brains are very good and blending tones and colors to be “seamless” in our sight. Cameras capture many other things we don’t detect with our eye, such as different color temperatures. White balance is how the camera identifies one particular light source to be the “natural” source of white light. This means, anything lit by that source will have consistent colors under white lighting. For example, a photo taken indoors with the white balance targeted to a lamp (tungsten) as the light source, any outside light coming in from a window will appear to be blue. If the WB is then targeted to daylight, the light from the lamp indoors will appear orange. This is why it is important to isolate your environment so that there is no light you do not want in the picture affecting the colors of your subject. 


H: When composing a photo session what are some things you think about knowing that those photographs will be used to entice someone to buy the product you’re shooting? 

W: I think about how I want this to be seen. I think about what emotions this may stir up in someone. Our emotions have an influence on our behaviors, and the more powerful the emotion, the deeper the memory of it sticks and the likelihood someone will want to experience that euphoria. I always want the image to look good to my eye, but I almost have to anticipate how the untrained eye will see this as well. 

H: Should someone have to shoot my products on a white background? 

W: That depends on what your product is and how you tend to sell them. If you run an online shop selling jewelry or pottery, a white background is a simple and easy way to display your products in a neutral state. White backgrounds are like a blank canvas for the mind, so for someone buying shoes, clothes or other accessories, a white background helps coordinate color options for an outfit they are buying. Food doesn’t always work on a white background because some of that contrast and shine can get lost in the even lit environment, making the food appear more sterile than appetising. I highly recommend at least starting with a white background for any business selling online products. 


H: Most iPhones are just as good as cameras now does this mean that someone should be shooting with an iPhone? 

W: If it works for your budget, sure! A photographer’s best camera is the one they always carry with them. There are plenty of simple ways to photograph products in a little white softbox and an iPhone. Keep in mind, an iPhone photo is not designed for printing or large scale imaging. It is designed for quick turn around and easy use. If that is what you need, then I say go for it. iPhones do compete a bit with cameras when it comes to size and megapixels, but there are limitations with lenses and photo editing for larger projects. 

H: If someone can only afford a nice light or a camera which should I invest in for their company?

W: If you have a nice light, but not a nice camera then congrats! You have officially purchased an expensive dust collector. Always start with the camera, and work your way up from there. You want to be familiar with the camera’s functions, how it captures light etc. As a photographer, I know how much I can get done with very little, so sometimes all you need is your camera and a decent spot of light in the window and you are set. 

H: What lighting setup would you suggest for an in store/restaurant/home studio? 

W: You can get everything you need with 1-2 lights. One light to be your main. Put a diffusing panel or softbox on to soften the light so the highlights and shadows are not so harsh. Take the second light on the opposite side of the subject, give it a little less power so that it fills in those shadows without illuminating them completely. Keep your studio environment free of any other light sources, this will ensure your subject is lit by only one color temperature and you will have nothing contaminating the image. You can also take two lights of equal power, angle them on the two sides of the subject, which gives a stark, edgy kind of feeling.  Or for an even simpler set up, take one light angle about 45 degrees downward and use that diffusing panel to soften the light on the subject below. This will give a very natural, simple feeling without complicating things. 


H: If someone’s food was previously photographed by DoorDash or GrubHub can they use those images for their menu on their website? 

W: I am not 100% certain of DoorDash’s terms of service, but I am pretty sure if you had photos taken by a DoorDash photographer, the rights to those images belong to DoorDash and can only be attached to their product. If you would like to use custom images for your website, I would recommend hiring your own photographer for your menu photography. DoorDash has a style guide they stick to for their product photos, giving them their own brand on how the food looks. For your website, you are going to want to show your brand, not a corporation’s copy/paste formula. 

H: What about photos from the brand of clothing, or equipment they sell? Can they use those if they have permission to sell their items in my store? 

W: Commercial images are copyright protected, meaning the rights are reserved to the purchaser or the photographer or both. Some companies may have photo packets available for some retailers to use for their store branding, but do not expect this as a common occurrence. Always double check your copyright law before moving into any advertising direction when intending on using images someone else provides.

H: Can a store owner take photos from someone’s social media to use on their site IF they’re featuring their product on the post? 

W: If they ask permission, yes. If they purchase the rights to the images, yes. If they take an image and give credit, sometimes yes. It depends if the image is copyright protected. It is generally frowned upon and not morally correct to make use of someone’s work without asking, informing them to purchase, or give credit.

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