As a Hawaii food photographer with over 20 years of experience, I’ve found food photography to be a gateway to celebrating and exploring Hawaiian culture, history, and our local community.
Food and culinary experiences are ways that we connect with family and friends. Because dining experiences are such an integral part of our lives, having exceptional food photography is essential if you’re a restaurant or food manufacturer trying to stand out to reach today’s busy consumer. Using exceptional photography as part of your adverting – print, online and social media is required to reach today’s media savvy customers.
Our philosophy is simple when photographing food. First, we analyze your brand statement and market placement to determine the primary demographics we’re communicating to. Do you have a high-end, sophisticated clientele? Or, are we selling to the masses? We use your brand statement and style guide to help us in creating a successful photo shoot.
Second, we photograph your food, restaurant or products in the simplest way that communicates your brand identity and gets your customers to interact with you in a positive way. Positive interactions would include visiting your restaurant, purchasing your products, or following you in social media.
I believe that compelling food photography is created by these three steps.
- A Clear Vision
- Thoughtful Styling
- Great Lighting and Proper Equipment
A Clear Vision
Let’s start by sitting down and talking about your brand. Who are your customers? When we create these photos, what action do you want your customers to take? How will the photos be used? Print advertising? Digital menu boards? Social media? For different media uses, we’ll photograph differently to create the best output for your final media. It’s important to decide on the final use of your food photography before the project starts.
In todays competitive market, having gorgeous food photography is essential to reach your customers. We work with Hawaii’s top food stylists who are experts in culinary presentation and food preparation. They know all the tricks and techniques to make food look great! We always recommend working with a professional food stylist.
However, we often have assignments with smaller clients (or smaller budgets). For these projects, I’m more than capable doing both the food styling and photography. It’s like having a food photographer and food stylist in one!
Great Lighting and Proper Equipment
Of course, even with the best direction and styling, it comes down to photography techniques that makes a good photograph ‘great’. When on location, we bring our studio to you! We setup our lighting systems to match the soft daylight from your windows, or to compliment the warm tungsten lighting in your retail space. Lighting is the key to exceptional photography. We bring the ideal light shaping tools (reflectors, scrims, flags, soft boxes) to light and visually sculpt your product or food beautifully. We can bring tables, wood countertops, linens and dinnerware to your location and build inviting dining room sets to photograph in.
I use a 50 megapixel camera system to capture images with amazing detail and clarity. And, we photograph tethered to a 15” Mac Book Pro, so you can preview and approve images as we shoot.
Favorite Food Photography Projects
We service a wide range of clients from food manufacturers (like Honolulu Cookie Company) to restaurants (McDonalds, Alan Wong’s and everyone else in between). Here’s a few of my favorite projects.
Starwood Resorts. We worked with Starwood Resorts Hawaii to create compelling food photography for all their restaurants including the Beachhouse, Pikake Terrace, Beach Bar, Mai Tai Bar and Azure.
Alan Wong’s. One of my favorite projects was photographing Alan Wong’s cookbook, The Blue Tomato. We spent many afternoons working at Alan’s King Street restaurant, shooting plates and presentations until the visual story for the book was ‘just right’. After being published, the book went on to receive the prestigious International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Award.
The IACP Cookbook Awards are among the most prestigious in the industry. Past honorees include Rick Bayless, Dorie Greenspan, Thomas Keller, Mark Bittman and Julia Child.
Honolulu Cookie Company. The neat thing about working with a client like Honolulu Cookie Company is being able to photograph seasonal materials and packaging. Aside from HCC’s shortbread cookies being absolutely delicious (my favorite being the macadamia nut) they’re known for their extraordinary, beautiful packaging. The holidays is when their designs shine brightest!
Hawaiian Host. In addition to photographing food and products, we also create imagery to be used for product packaging itself. We photographed Hawaiian Host-ess and professional hula dancer Nicole Kawehi Navarro for the packaging of Hawaiian Host’s Aloha Macs product line.
If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with us on this longish page about our services. Today’s consumers are media savvy and have so many choices when it comes to dining experiences. I wanted to take the time and share with you what I feel makes our services different and an ideal choice as a food photographer for your next project. Please contact us. I’d be happy to talk to you more about reaching your customers with food photography. Aloha!
New food photography project: Grilled Akule Nam Pla and Peppercorn Ribeye Steak for KTA Super Stores.
David Murphey is a Honolulu based freelance commercial and editorial photographer. David’s work has been seen in media, magazines and newspapers worldwide including The Food Network, Travel Channel, USA Today, Travel + Leisure, Tommy Bahamas and Wine Spectator. He’s also a member of the Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association… Full Bio