Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Ice Cream Styling Emergency

We had an order recently for Lisa Golden Schroeder's e-booklet, “Working with Real (and Faux) Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts.” Product stylist Jennifer Hoon was in a panic because she found out that she needed to style ICE CREAM the following day. We rushed the PDF of the 18-page booklet to her. Plus Lisa emailed the following advice to nervous Jen:

Critical issues for you tomorrow:
1. Is the product being held now in a freezer (preferably a chest freezer, as a standing freezer loses a lot of its cold when the door opens and closes) that is at a good tempering temperature for it? Tempering depends on the amount of butterfat in the ice cream--so the lower the fat content, the colder the freezer can be. Very high fat ice cream (like super-premium brands--Haagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry's, other very high end products) need slightly warmer tempering (about 5 degrees F).

2. Have you ordered enough dry ice? And have a styro or other separate cooler to hold it? Don't put it in the regular freezer. Be sure to get some dry ice pellets that are easy to crush (use a canvas bag or towel, with a hammer--wear gloves, too)--this is great to use for keeping scoops cold and putting into a strainer to hold over styled scoops/desserts under camera.

3. Stay calm and don't let anyone rattle you. You know what you need to do, so even if you're nervous or worried, don't let anyone see that (:-)) Good luck--do let us know how things go!! Hopefully, if this is just a small job that needs a few scoops, you can just go for it. Best, Lisa

Well, we were happy to know that Jennifer survived her ice cream shoot just fine! And she wrote us this follow-up note:

"The ice cream was a prop so I didn't have to worry about using the real thing. I used the recipe for faux ice cream composed of ready made frosting and confectioners sugar. The results looked very realistic. I was sooo relieved when it turned out. I brought it to my boyfriend to show him the happy results and he was convinced I was bringing him ice cream. He was quite disappointed to find out it was inedible. Most importantly, the client was very happy with the look. Thanks for getting the booklet to me in my day before the shoot panic. All my best, Jen"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Photo Styling and the Economy

Being in this industry for several decades, I have seen ups and downs and the effect the economy has on the creation of commercial photographs. When postal rates or paper costs increase the catalog industry is rapidly affected. In an effort to save money in tough economic times, advertisers cut print budgets and produce fewer images. They may use more stock photographs or squeak by without a stylist.

I found this editorial opinion in the August 2008 issue of Multi-Channel Merchant, formerly Catalog Age magazine, a trade publication for the catalog/web-marketing indusry. Written by Laura L. Hamblen, an independent stylist, it reflects the feelings of many of us. I was unable to find Laura in a Web search and I hope she doesn't mind my acolades for expressing her viewpoint so well.

She writes, "As a photo stylist, I have been affected by the current economy, along with most of my colleagues in the visual field. The 'bean counters' behind many catalogs are cutting the very people who are the interface between the company and its customers."Many are opting to hire people who cost less and have little experience to handle the presentation of their product, so photographs are not as striking and informative as they might be. After seeing the result, one might wonder why a customer might spend, say, $80 on a mid-priced catalog product that looks no better than the $10 offering at the local discount store. The answer is that in most circumstances, they won't.

"An experienced, talented stylist, photographer and crew will know a brand's customer and how to visually attract that customer to purchase. Understanding how to illustrate all of the product's unique qualities in an attractive and consistent fashion will typically enhance sales. And higher sales should more than offset the cost of hiring seasoned professionals."Many companies will blame their downturn in sales on the economy without thinking about the consequences of cutting the professionals who produce the images of their products. And this will make a difficult economic climate for catalogs decidedly worse."

Well said, Laura. What is YOUR opnion on the current economy's effect on stylists - and vice-versa? Please add to this POST.