Behind the scenes of a food photography shoot: Tavernier Chocolates

When it comes to planning a food photo shoot with a client, there are multiple conversations that must take place well before the camera starts clicking.
I usually start with a series of questions:

• What is the overall goal of the photo shoot?

• How many photos are they wanting to walk away with? 

• How does the client intend to use the final images? Are they for their website? Social media? Print? All of the above? Each of these uses requires a different format and size of image, (horizontal, vertical, square, high res, low res, etc.) so it's crucial to know how and where the photos will be used. 

• What mood do they want their photos to convey?

• What are their branding colors? 

• What type of lighting do they like?

The answers to these questions determine how much time we will need, as well as the types of photography backdrops I will use and the props I will pull for the shoot. 

Owned by Dar Tavernier-Singer & John Singer,  Tavernier Chocolates is a handcrafted, artisanal chocolate brand, based in Southern Vermont. Their chocolate is not only delicious but also jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Before working together, Dar shared Tavernier's brand guide with me, which was immensely helpful in planning the styling for the shoot. 

Foraging and the natural world are a big part of the Tavernier brand, so I chose to pull primarily wood and stone inspired backdrops for the shoot. The color scheme, mood and lighting were determined by the brand book: "deep, dark, rich, moody" lighting and "cool unsaturated greys, browns, blue greys" as a color palette.

Based on those descriptors, here are the backdrops I chose to use:

(From L to R, top row is Zion, Simon, Zealand and Luca. Bottom row is Jude, Zane, Dexter and George.)

Dar and John had multiple objectives for their shoot: to create new banners for their website, to build content for social media, and to replace some of their existing product photos. They wanted lifestyle shots of the two of them and environmental images of their products- a few of which would include packaging but most would not. Lastly, they wanted to include hands as much as possible. 

Because Tavernier's brand style included textures and elements from nature, I made the decision to involve shadows in the lighting for some of the shots. 

For the image below of Tavernier's award winning chocolate charcuterie, we wanted to create a photo that conveyed abundance and sharing, in addition to showing the types of foods that paired well with the chocolate. The food was styled on a huge breadboard and shot on our Luca backdrop because the earthy green color nicely set off the food. I ended up taking advantage of the strong light and shadows that were coming through my studio windows and shot this photo with natural light. 

To round out the chocolate charcuterie shots, I took a few more shots; one showing the packaging and a couple others that are more intimate and close up.


The next series of images were focused on Tavernier's cocoa and drinking chocolate, as well as their chocolate tablets.  We wanted to showcase the packaging in a couple shots but not be overly heavy handed with the branding.

Lastly, I focused on creating images of Tavernier's bon bons (and one more shot of their submarino, which is the first image below.) I wanted these first 2 shots to have a romantic and moody quality to them, so I played with the light a bit. You can see some behind the scenes footage of how I created these images HERE and HERE.Here are some additional shots, continuing with the darker color palette and lighting. As shown above, I included a mix of editorial shots as well as close up, textural images. I think it's important to do both: the editorial shots tell a story and provide an opportunity to involve some romance and drama in the imagery, whereas the close up shots are enticing and visually captivating. They are there to make the viewer hungry. 😉

I hope this was a helpful peek into what goes into planning and executing a product/food shoot. Please reach out in the comments with any questions!

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