A picture says a thousand words and in these heady days of e-commerce, a great photo can lead to a thousand clicks. Or so you hope! Which is why your basic iPhone camera skills won’t cut it when it comes to showing off your product.

Enter food and product photographer Katie Ring. Katie specializes in collaborating with businesses to provide visual content that meets their branding and advertising goals. She has experience shooting for a wide range of end uses including: menus, signage, catalog, mailers, e-commerce, social media, web, advertising media (including large scale vehicle wraps and billboards) as well as product packaging. Her claim to fame is having shot a pen for Staples that was featured on the billboard in the center of Times Square.

We got to chat with Katie, who’s based in Boston, about what makes a great product photo and so much more.

Foodboro members will get a free consultation with Katie and a discount on their first photoshoot. Yay! Read more below. Not a Foodboro member? Join up now! 

How can a brand that is just starting out up their “cool” factor?

With intention. With every client we do at least one planning call to talk about the ideal customer and voice/look/style of your product. Know who you want to be and who you are selling to. You can’t be everything to everyone. What one person thinks is cool, another finds totally unimpressive.

Having a branded presence—images and copy that feel connected and like they have a perspective—will make you stand out. Your brand should be like the person at an event that you’re drawn to. Maybe their clothing is stylish, they look like they’re having a good time, or you hear them saying something you think it important. Be that to your potential customers, it will draw them in. You can’t be a magnet for everyone, so identify who you’re looking to connect with and how they define cool.

What makes shooting for e-commerce different from other types of photo shoots?

You need to know where you are selling. If you’re selling on your own website, you want to develop standardized image guidelines that are repeatable. That way if you add a product you can shoot it to match your other photos vs. needing to go back and re-shoot. Marketplaces like Amazon have specific guidelines. Your images need to be on a white background and shown from a certain angle. If selling on Amazon is a goal, all products should have an Amazon-ready photo in your library and I can ensure that happens.

Why is it important to work with a food specialist?

When planning your product photography it’s important to work with someone who knows how to work with food and beverage. Food has a different set of rules. It needs specialized lighting to make it look appetizing.

Food also needs to have “its face put on.” Just as most celebrities wouldn’t dream of being photographed without make-up, food often needs the right styling tools to looks its best. I have a kit of brushes, syringes, tweezers, and even the secret ingredient, gravy master. Fun fact: this little bottle can be used to make everything from coffee, to iced tea, white wine, and even make meats look more well done while remaining juicy.

You also need to know when to use real and when to use substitute foods. Do you know the recipe for fake ice cream that looks real but never melts? I do!

You offer live video streaming of photoshoots. Can you tell us more about how that works?

Yes! Not all clients are able to come to the Boston area. With today’s technology we can use a variety of streaming platforms to bring the shoot to you! I am familiar with Zoom, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime. All can be run on my laptop so that the client can view the set, live, as well as see the photos as they come over on the desktop computer. I can even screen-share for you to approve photos on the spot! It’s important to attend at least the beginning of your photoshoot (connected by video or in-person) so that you can be sure the photographs captured are what you had in mind!

What are a few tips for people to know when selecting a photographer? 

Do you like them? Seems silly, but will you feel good diving deep into your brand with this person? Could you sit down for a cup of coffee? Can you collaborate? I’m told that my willingness to listen to the needs of the client is something that sets me apart.

It’s important to also look at a photographer’s experience and background. Do they know how to shoot for all of your business needs so you won’t need more photos later? There is a vast difference between someone like me who has been in the industry 15+ years and someone who has just started a photography business. A less expensive photoshoot can actually end up costing you more money if it’s not done right and needs to be re-shot.

Also, consider if the photographer is connected to the experts you need for your shoot. I have prop and food stylists that I can call in to collaborate on a shoot when your brand needs that. However, for a more simple shoot I have the experience to do some food and prop styling myself.

What sorts of services do you offer for those who want to start a business?

I offer photography of food and products with the added value of advertising agency experience and branding consulting. I create photographs for clients of: product lines for catalog/e-commerce/sales sheets, product packaging, and styled photos for websites, social media, advertising and more. New England based clients can also add an owner portrait and location photo (travel fees may apply).

I have in-house brand and advertising agency experience with Stonewall Kitchen, Stapes, and Wayfair. This allows me to work with a client’s image style guide or I lead them through the process of creating guidelines. If your brand doesn’t have an outlined look and feel yet, I can hold your hand through the process of selecting a style of photography and setting a guide. Branded images have a presence that looks uniquely like you and your product. I can also help choose color themes and props as well as hire professional stylists for my complex shoots.

Thanks, Katie! We are going to DM for you that secret ingredient for ice cream in just a minute.

FOODBORO MEMBER PERK: Katie would like to offer fellow Foodboro members a free 30-minute phone/video photography consultation call as well as 20%* off their first photoshoot. (20% off is valid on photographer’s fees only. Any props, backdrops/surfaces, or stylist and other vendor fees will be billed at cost.) Not a Foodboro member yet? Join up here!