Photographing the best sushi in London
A delicious experience!
At Pocket Creatives, we have worked on such a range of food photography projects, especially for food products, however not so much in the restaurant/hospitality sector. So, when the opportunity arose to work with Hot Stone London, quite literally one of the best steak and sushi bars in London, we were beyond excited!
Hot Stone needed some restaurant photography and food photography for a few different purposes: website, Instagram and social media channels, potential menu/leaflets and tube advertisements. From the very beginning, we knew we had a lot of boxes to tick for all these different uses and requirements, for example, in order for an image to be used for a tube advertisement, it will need to be photographed in a way so that the designer can manipulate it further, including adding text and branding.
Our client Muna, the Marketing Director gave us her initial brief. They needed highly impactful images of their most premium menu items that stood out from other restaurant photography, highlighting the brand and USPs in the best way possible – a challenge that we love 😊
We began by researching Hot Stone, learning all about their history, dishes, USPs, achievements and customers – this is really important for us as in order to deliver outstanding imagery that represents them, we need to understand what they’re all about!
Once we felt we had a strong enough understanding, we moved on to moodboarding images for both restaurant photography and food photography – this may be one of my favourite parts of any photography pre-production stage as it allows us to explore different styles that we think will suit the project, whilst allowing the client to visually show us what they like and don’t like. This works best when it’s a collaborative process. We ask for an initial idea of what a client likes and we can develop our thoughts from there. Once we have a moodboard set in place, it’s then all about getting the shots into a list and pairing each image idea with an example image and explanation. This keeps the pre-production communication with our clients strong and clear, and makes it easier to go back and forth between us with developments and changes until we’re confident and clear with the plan.
Once they’re set in stone (pun intended!), moodboards are signed off and shot lists are fully developed, it’s then time for the big day! Hot Stone has an absolutely beautiful restaurant, making the interior photography part of the shoot easy as everything was stunning. Getting the lighting balance right was the hardest part of the task here, straddling the line between accuracy of colour versus warm and cosy interior.
The dishes were also screaming colours and flavour, making our job somewhat easier – however, we quickly learnt that the background of these images and the angles would make all the difference! Some dishes were tall, some were small and detailed and some were giant (the prawns especially!) and so we had to adapt each approach to each dish, which kept things interesting and unique to each image.
We created the images as wide as possible so that we had the flexibility in post-production to re-frame and reposition as we needed. This also makes it easier for the designer’s job at the next stage of creating the tube advert. Shooting with a 36 megapixel camera gives us that flexibility without losing detail if we need to zoom in and change frame later.
With sushi being so detailed, perhaps the hardest part is deciding to abandon the rulebook when it came to lighting. We were frequently changing between top-down, 45 degree and flat side angle shots as well, so being flexible with our lighting in a confined space represented a challenge. Placing the shadows where we wanted them, without hiding ingredients, maximising drama and contrast, and working with shapes and patterns were all considerations. We adopted lots of back and side lighting, and were prepared to shoot, review and then completely rebuild the designs if they weren’t quite working. This all takes time, but it has to be a quality-first approach. Thankfully this resulted to the sushi photography looking beautiful so was worth the trial and error!
During the shoot we were tethered up to a laptop so that we could review our work as we went, as well as letting Muna and her team view the images as we went along. When an image makes the client go “ooo” “ahhh” “yesss” you know you’re doing something right 😉
Now as rewarding as those sounds were, I must admit the most rewarding part of the day was finishing at 8pm and being brought the best Sushi in London to our table by one very talented chef – not only did we have the opportunity to get our teeth stuck into Sushi photography but the taste of the sushi as well, so it was a win-win!
We were beyond happy with the images on the day. We couldn’t wait to get them into the post-production stage to bring them even more to life.