As an Orlando based freelance designer and food & beverage photographer, Aaron creates rich, detailed images with a focus on branding and quality.
Aaron's latest work for Morimoto Asia @ Disney Springs is no exception. This article will leave you with insights into Aaron's creative process, as well as a desire to go grab a drink!
My current beverages portfolio has been created over the last 6 months. The majority of the images were created for Morimoto Asia, owned by the Patina Restaurant Group and located at Disney Springs in Florida. I can’t give any specifics but they are doing some very cool new things at Disney Springs this year that I am very excited to be a part of.
My first assignment with this client was to shoot fall beverage specials. My main concern was to create images that invoked the feeling of the season while still staying true to the feel and atmosphere of the restaurant. To do that I focused on using different areas of the restaurant as backgrounds and paid particular attention to the props and materials that were being used in the images. The most important thing was not to go kitschy or get caught up in the generalities of the season so shopping for the right materials and props was crucial.
As we continued with other shoots such as Christmas, brunch and just general drinks we stayed consistent with the overall feel of the work and created variety through the use of elements within the restaurant.
The first thing I do when working on a project is to study my client, to understand who they are, where they’ve been, what challenges they are facing in communicating visually and their thoughts about past works so that I have a good understanding of what they are hoping to have created for them. I believe that first and foremost I am providing a service to my clients and I am creating art for them not for me.
Once I feel that I have a good handle on my client's needs, I study the project, what they are trying to accomplish, how do people think about their product or service that I am creating work for, how does my client want people to feel about the work I am creating for them, and I pay particular attention to a client's brand to be sure what we create stays consistent and is cohesive with all that they do.
By this time I’m ready to get to the details. I create a shot list explaining each dish thoroughly including recipes, ingredients, garnishes, how it is prepared, how it is plated, etc. If I can, I always get a chef or bar manager to create the dish for me ahead of time and include a snapshot from their own camera or phone so that on set we are prepared and understand what it is we are shooting. There are so many variables that come into play when shooting food that it can be hard to anticipate without proper planning, and a well-planned shoot not only goes faster during the shoot, but the finished product is always better for it.
I have always loved the art of food, what a chef can do to transform individual ingredients into a dish both in flavor and in design has always been something I have appreciated and admired. Like most chefs I live for the details, for the craft, I love to make an image and I work tirelessly to make each one better than the last. My overall style is all about showcasing the food, the way I handle the light, the framing, the composition, all keep not just the food itself in mind, but also the feelings surrounding that food. To me, a steak is dramatic while a cocktail is classy. A donut is bright and happy while a cherry can be seductive. I may not have had a specific style that has a conceptual relevance to this particular work but I certainly think about it every time I shoot.
If you had one piece of advice for emerging or aspiring creative professionals what would it be?
Practice, Practice, Practice! Shoot everything, shoot often, shoot what you want to be shooting professionally one day. Most people say that getting started in an industry like this is who you know or being in the right place at the right time. I never thought that was how it had to be and then I was in the right place at the right time. But what I realized is that by going out, hitting the pavement and finding people to shoot for I put myself in that right place, right time moment, if I hadn’t done the work I still wouldn’t be as far along as I am now.
I have worked in photography in one way or another for the past 27 years. I have wanted to make a living at it full time for the past 10 years. It has taken a lot of learning and along the way I have had successes and I have had failures but everything I have done has prepared me to do this job the best way I can today. I love this work and I love spending my days figuring out how to get better with every shoot. I have seen the photographic community go from closed door to open book and I do believe the industry is better for it. I love reading articles from other photographers and I am honored to have been asked to write one. Hard work always pays off in the end.
Check out more of AaronVan Photo's work in his Dripbook Portfolios .
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