Keys to Great Packaging Design

Keys to Great Packaging Design

The difference between a successful product and an unsuccessful product can be as simple as effective packaging design. Packaging is often the first introduction potential customers have to your product. Attractive, effective packaging design is the key to product engagement and sales, while unattractive packaging is the key to having your product skipped over in favor of the competition.

Packaging is equal parts art and science, psychology and gentle persuasion. For your product to be successful, your product packaging must be successful.

Unfortunately, far too many companies overlook the importance of packaging. Many great products – and companies – have faltered and died on the altar of bad packaging. Here are a few key points to keep in mind to guarantee that your product packaging will have the impact it needs to make your product successful.

Make Your Product Stand Out

Your average supermarket carries approximately 40,000 different products. Your typical Walmart Supercenter carries upwards of 142,000 different products depending on store size. Every one of these products fight for the attention of shoppers, creating an enormous "signal-to-noise" problem for your product. Let’s try a little experiment to help you understand this better. The next time you go shopping, pick a random product category, be it anything from cereal to TVs – and count the number of products on display within that category that have confusingly similar packaging. The results may surprise you. If you want your product to be noticed, it has to stand out. Be willing to think outside the box, so to speak, and be an innovator rather than an emulator.

Color is Critical

The color(s) you choose are a critical element to any successful packaging design, and picking the right colors to help your packaging stand out from the competition is crucial to your success. However, one important tip to keep in mind in choosing packaging colors is the need to stay consistent with your brand standards. For instance, red and white have become established parts of the Coca-Cola brand, while red, white, and blue are part of the established branding identity for competitor Pepsi-Cola. Packaging that incorporates your signature brand colors helps reinforce your brand to consumers. Additional color choices should be guided by current marketing standards and consumer preferences. For instance, black was once considered a major faux pas for food packaging, but in recent years has become a prominent choice for many food product packages. Simple, bold colors, or interesting color combinations will get your packaging noticed. This is particularly important if the packaging used by your competitors is overly loud or garish – remember, one way to stand out is to provide contrast with your competitors. Being different will always get you noticed.

Clarity & Simplicity

What do consumers value above all else when shopping? Convenience and value. Unfortunately, consumers who are unable to determine your value proposition due to hard-to-decipher or confusing packaging will pass your product by. Part of the convenience proposition for consumers is the ability to quickly evaluate a product. If consumers are unable to quickly find the information they need to make an informed buying decision from your packaging, your packaging has in essence failed – and your product may soon follow.

Typography Anchors Your Design

A key element of clean, successful packaging design is choosing the right typography. Cluttered, small, or hard-to-read fonts can frustrate consumers and sabotage an otherwise promising packaging design. Your consumers want and need to know more information about your product before making an informed buying decision, but this information is wasted if they are unable to decipher poorly designed typographic elements.

Know Your Target Audience

Your packaging needs to speak to your audience. An important part of effective packaging is to know your audience, and to speak to them in ways that will help them build a connection with your brand. Research your target audience and model your packaging to fit their needs and interests. For instance, if you are marketing a non-GMO food product, and your target audience is very GMO conscious, you will want to prominently include this in your package design.

Maintain a Consistent Brand

Branding is the heart and soul of your business. Consistency of tone, of voice, of values across your branding efforts is critical in building brand credibility among consumers. Packaging is a critical part of your brand. Your brand identity must be represented in your packaging and starts with using a consistent color palette, a consistent voice, and consistent design elements such as logos and typography across all branded materials. Remember, for many consumers, your packaging will be the most common – and, quite often, only — branding element they will come in contact with. Consumers value brand honesty and trustworthiness, and brand consistency is a key to persuading consumers that your brand is trustworthy by being true to your internal values and your brand message.

To Wrap it Up

In summary, product success starts with effective packaging design. And the first step in that process is picking the right team to help you design product packaging that sells. Our marketing and design staff understands what it takes to create product packaging that makes your product stand out in a crowded field of competitors. 

If you’d like a free copy of our “Packaging Design Process” white paper, contact us today and learn how the many creative services we offer can help take your company to the next level.

Creating High Quality Imagery with Today’s Smartphones

Creating High Quality Imagery with Today’s Smartphones

Close your eyes and imagine this scene... The sun is sinking below the horizon, and it's going to be a stunner of a sunset — one for the books (or at the very least, for Facebook). You scramble for your phone to capture it all, but the image simply doesn't translate on your screen as beautifully as it is in real life.

 I captured this in San Francisco last Fall.

I captured this in San Francisco last Fall.

In the early period of mobile phone photography, this was a very common occurrence. But the smartphone cameras we're seeing in 2018 are capable of capturing professional quality images, even when experiencing difficult lighting conditions. The best part? These cameras that are an integral part of today's smartphones fit right in your pocket, allowing you to capture those special moments in amazing clarity and detail, without the need to carry an expensive (and heavy) DSLR.

Smartphones - Let's Take A Look At Their History

Those old enough to remember mall kiosks stocked with interchangeable, plastic phone covers know just how far mobile camera technology has come over the course of the past two decades. Phones at the beginning of this millennium gave us barely discernible images — and any thought about capturing pictures in low light was impossible... but now many of today's current crop of smartphones can shoot video in 4K and capture still images at resolutions suitable for larger frames.

To put all of this into perspective: The first camera phones released in the year 2000 had only enough memory to store around 20 photos, and each image was capable of resolution anywhere from 0.11 to 0.35 megapixels. 

A few years later, mobile photo technology had progressed to include basic flash features, self-timers, primitive zoom functionality, and the first iterations of "filters" (such as black & white, sepia, etc.) that would come to dominate social image-sharing platforms like Instagram. These devices were still limited to around 1.3 megapixels — but at least they were capable of wirelessly sending images, and in some cases, even printing them.

But by the beginning of this decade, we were beginning to see glimpses of the technologies that have largely shaped modern mobile camera technology — video capabilities, touchscreen, panoramic photos, and the emergence of built-in software features for image editing, filtering, and retouching. 

Today, we've come light years from those early, grainy photos snapped on our flip phones. The most advanced smartphone cameras of 2018 now boast dual-camera setups, the ability to shoot in formats like wide-angle or telephoto, and 12-megapixels (but it's important to note that, despite common perception, megapixels are not always the most critical metric of a camera's quality).

And many of the current smartphone cameras even include features like low-light functionality, super-fast autofocus, and optical image stabilization for steady capture. Portrait modes blur the background of a scene, and manual exposure modes allow a photographer to manipulate everything from shutter speed to white balance, focus, and ISO.

These functionalities were once reserved strictly for bulky, expensive DSLRs — but today, they're available in the palm of your hand. The next question is... do you know how to make the most of this incredible tool?

Taking Your Smartphone Photography to the Next Level

Below are 5 tips that will help you capture amazing imagery using the features that are common on today's smartphones:

  1. Invest time in learning the full range of your smartphone camera's features and functionality. A surprising number of amateur smartphone photographers never fully explore all the features their device has to offer, such as depth-effect, portrait mode, or manually adjusting the ISO of a shot. Taking five minutes to watch a YouTube tutorial or read through your device manufacturer's online user guide can help you discover features you never knew existed.

  2. Opt for a device with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) technology to take crystal clear pictures of fast-paced scenes. OIS is a technology that helps keep the subject you're shooting clean and crisp, even in low-light situations or, say, in a moving vehicle. Several devices on the market today feature this technology and, if you plan to shoot moving subjects frequently, this is defintley worth looking at when considering a new smartphone.

  3. Play around with the composition of your shot before taking it. Try capturing multiple angles of the same scene. (Tip: getting down to the same level as your subject often provides an interesting point of view.) Your smartphone's built-in "grid" can also help you master common photography guidelines such as the "rule of thirds", and can also help you create interesting compositions along the lines of a trained professional.

    4. Keep your smartphone camera lens clean. Using a microfiber cloth or specific lens cleaning kit, periodically clean your smartphone's camera. This lets your lens work with the ultimate clarity, unimpeded by unsightly fingerprint smudges or pants pocket dust.

    5. Experiment with translucent and transparent surfaces. Reflections, refractions, windows, mirrors, and even shooting underwater (made possible with an external, waterproof casing) provide new takes on common snapshot subjects like portraits or pet photos. Get creative with your smartphone's features for adjusting lighting, and play around with some cool, new perspectives.

That's A Wrap

In summary, today's fast-evolving smartphone camera technology is making it possible to capture practically any scene — from selfies to sunsets — with the simple swipe of a finger. Play with your camera often, because the more you practice and take chances with your imagery, the greater the chance you'll capture something truly special.

The Importance of Giving Back & Growing Our Photographic Community

The Importance of Giving Back & Growing Our Photographic Community

Being an excellent photographer requires more than taking beautiful photos.  As you grow in your photography career you will realize that using your camera during that big shoot becomes less of a focus until one day the operation of your camera, lenses and lighting is nearly automatic and takes minimal if any active thought.  During this transition, focus shifts from the camera to the complete attention to the client and their products.  This moment marks the transition from photographer to professional.  When this happens we become an integral part of our client's experience.  

Watching and helping you grow to become the most powerful artist you were designed to be is the reason that we’ve establishes an Apprentice Program at our creative studio. The apprentice program is specifically designed for photographers who are progressing at their craft, who have good technical camera knowledge, and who want to further their photography career. A sense of passion about offering the finest art to clients is something we care about deeply.

Apprenticeships bring together individuals, who are motivated and working hard to develop themselves, and employers, investing in their own success but supporting a wider program of social, environmental and economic value.

An Apprenticeship is a job with an accompanying skills development program. It allows the apprentice to gain technical knowledge and real practical experience, along with functional and personal skills, required for their immediate and long-term career path. These are acquired through a mix of learning in the workplace and the opportunity to practice and embed new skills in a real work context. This broader mix differentiates the Apprenticeship experience from training delivered to meet narrowly focused job needs.

The photo imaging workforce can be broadly divided into the following categories:

  • Image producers at retail
  • Picture libraries and agencies
  • Manufacturers

Across the photography industry as a whole, 91% of companies employ five people or fewer. The photo sector increasingly requires a workforce with a wide ranging skill set, combining technical proficiency with creativity, visual awareness and business acumen. Practitioners need to be motivated and self-sufficient, committed and enthusiastic. Career success typically requires a strong passion for the subject and a high level of entrepreneurial ability. Competition is vigorous, especially for photographers, and the financial rewards vary greatly depending on the skills and specialties of the individual photographer. That said, the work is usually interesting and seldom routine.

Across the sector as a whole, the most significant specialist skills gaps continue to be around the use of digital technology, knowledge of digital workflow and management of digital assets. The rapid pace of technological change means that businesses and individuals must develop strong market awareness and demonstrate flexibility to adapt rapidly to new business opportunities. In addition, widespread internet access and the opportunity for image sharing across a number of platforms, makes an understanding of intellectual property rights and how to protect them increasingly important. Our Apprenticeship has been designed to tackle these skills gaps.
The framework is targeted at photography and non-photography roles. 

The role will focus on:

  • Commercial photography
  • Event photography
  • Studio photography specializing in advertising, food or catalog/web

The aim of this Apprenticeship is to attract new entrants into the photo business, through a structured and employer-led framework. The main objectives of this Apprenticeship are:

  • to provide a non-traditional route into the industry;
  • to provide an entry route for under-represented groups;
  • to allow our company to supplement our organizations with new expertise, techniques and technologies;
  • to provide the photography sector with a stream of motivated recruits equipped with the technical, creative and business skills required for the future;
  • to offer sufficient flexibility within the framework to ensure that it can be used to support entry into a wide variety of roles within the industry.

The Obscura Companies will carry out ongoing monitoring and evaluation to assess the extent to which this Apprenticeship meets the above objectives. When required, we will update the content of this framework to respond to the fast-moving changes within the creative industry.

Career success typically requires a strong passion for the subject, so candidates should show a high level of interest and enthusiasm for the subject and the photography sector in general. This could be demonstrated by providing a portfolio of personal photographic work or through evidence of work experience. For many jobs roles good color vision is essential, although this is not a prerequisite for entry to the framework. 

Qualifications and other prior achievements, which may provide a useful basis for entry include:

  • a portfolio from personal and/or work experience, non-accredited courses, volunteering; OR
  • previously worked or are working in the sector; OR
  • Awards, Certificates or Diplomas in the field from an accredited school

The apprentice program is very limited and an application is required to be submitted in its entirety in order to be considered. If you’d like to learn more, click here to submit an initial contact form.

Spring Break Photo Tips

Spring Break Photo Tips

Spring Break is right around the corner for most kids from pre-school to college co-eds. This is a rite of passage for most high school and college students. They may be off to the beach or possibly get in a little skiing. Or, they may be stuck on Mom and Dad's couch for the week. No matter where you go (or don't go) for Spring Break you will be creating lasting memories and see amazing things...So don't forget your camera or at least take your iPhone or smartphone with you.

If the beach is your destination for Spring Break here are a few photo tips to keep in mind while you are there.

Candid Photos

When you are taking candid photos (photos where people aren't posing or looking at the camera) be sure you aren't taking photos of the back of people's heads. Try to get in close and time your pic carefully (laughing is always a great candid)

Posed Photos

Taking photos of your family or group of friends on the beach is definitely necessary, but can be a challenge because you are usually there in the middle of the day when the sun is directly overhead. What's the solution...well, you are at the beach so sunglasses always work for the younger crowd. Try to find a spot that had any type of shade. An umbrella, a lifeguard stand, or even a passing cloud. As the day goes on try to face your group pics away from the sun for the most flattering light. Having the sun at their backs will prevent squinting and harsh shadows under their eyes.

Other Photo Opportunities

Sunrise / Sunset on the beach. If you are on the East Coast or on the Gulf of Mexico that means getting up pretty early. But it is definitely worth doing at least one of the days you are at the beach. If you are at a West Coast beach you get to watch the sunset over the Pacific ocean. Be ready but patient with your camera...sunrises and sunsets can change dramatically in just a minute or two...then all of a sudden they are gone. The sand and ocean water itself can be fun to photograph...be sure to pay attention to small details.

If you and your friends or your family are hitting the slopes for Spring Break then...well #1 is be careful. Here are a few more bits of wisdom:

  • Taking a compact point and shoot or even using your iPhone on the slopes is going to be way easier to carry than a full DSLR and lens. Keep your camera in a zipped pocket (preferably on the inside of your pocket so it doesn't get wet.
  • Take advantage of the view. When you are at the top of the mountain take a breath, pull out your camera and try to photograph both wide landscapes and zoom in a little on nearby mountain tops. These can make for some breathtaking canvas prints once you get home.
  • Ski ahead of your friends or family, pick a SAFE spot to take photos of them as they come cruising by. Probably not the best idea to do on a double black diamond slope with moguls (especially if you are my Mom). Take close ups of all your gear: snowboards and skis have a great shape to them. All the gear in the snow or leaning up against a fence makes for a pretty cool shot...now insert the whole gang into that shot and presto instant classic!
  • End of the run photos: After a long day on the slope make sure to get the weary group together for a group shot. If everyone is still wearing their skis and snowboards be sure to get full length of the whole group.

And, if you are stuck at home this Spring Break, take advantage of everyone being gone. It's like you have the whole place to yourself...and the rest of us who have to work during Spring Break. If you have a car or know a friend who has a car go out and explore your city or town. Have your own little mini adventure. Even if it is for a day. Taking silly and fun photos along the way will be something you can remember after that day is long gone.

Now, what to do with all these amazing photos once you are back. Here are just a few ideas for you:

  • A collection of some small square canvas prints can make that beach trip come alive. Pick 3 or 4 of your favorite shots and crop them square (if you took them with Instagram then you are already set) and get them printed as 8x8's. 
  • Make a photo album. You likely took close to 300 photos on your trip…or if you are like me…1,500. That is way to many to a photo canvas out of each one. These days there are several great options to make a personalized photo album. Shutterfly is just one of many online options. You can always do the old school route and buy an album to slide the photos in as well.
  • If canvas photo prints aren't your style you can always have us print your best shots on our Fine Art Photo Paper. I am still a little partial to framed photo prints. And hey, there is no rule out there saying you can't do both a photo print and a canvas print.

Enjoy whatever you do during Spring Break... feel free to tweet us your photos @WeAreObscura

5 Tips for Better Food Photography

5 Tips for Better Food Photography

We all know food tastes good, but it’s not always the easiest subject to photograph. Taking good photos doesn’t just happen by pointing and shooting. There’s a lot that goes into it.
A great photograph doesn’t just happen. You need to think about the details like composition, lighting, styling, etc. A good food photo makes your drool just looking at it because it displays the best traits of the food (aka, the subject).

Below are five tips that detail some of the key aspects to getting great food shots:

Don’t Ignore Composition

Tell a story by using your backdrop or setting and props. Make sure that everything looks beautiful and well-rounded. Composition basically means the arrangement of stuff in your photo. A good composition sets the scene for your audience, whether it’s a plate or a single piece of parsley on your dish.

One useful tool to keep in mind is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a nine-part grid that you need to imagine over your photo or subject. Your main subject should be either along the lines or at the intersections of your grid. Our eyes are naturally drawn to these points, so it’s good to keep in mind when taking your photos. You use this method to really highlight your dish and tell a story.

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Props Are Essential

Props can really set the storyline for your photo and give it more depth. However, you don’t want to overdo it. You want your photos to be full of detail, but you don’t want the props to take over the shot or upstage your main subject (the food).

For example:

  • Choose the plate you use wisely

  • Use accessories like napkins or utensils

  • Garnish the dish

  • Get creative with your backgrounds

  • If the food is busy, make sure your props aren’t, and if your setting/food isn’t so busy then add some flare and character using your plates, bowls, etc.

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Angles Are Critical

Choosing the right angles makes all the difference. Some dishes are better with the side view and others are better from a birds eye view. When you establish which is best for your subject, you’ll really see an increase in response because you’ll have made the food look incredible!

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Don’t Get Too Close

Try to take a shot far enough away from the ideal sizing you’ll want. This way you’ll have wiggle room when you are editing and you can play with different compositions in the editing process. Sometimes playing with the cropping when editing can take a photo that you didn’t love from the start to one that’s fantastic.

A good rule of thumb is being far enough away that you know you won’t end up cropping half the bowl out or even someone’s head. Think of the subject and how you want it to look in its "end use".

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Interact With The Food

Interaction is a great way to liven up your photos. For example, cutting into the item, using a hand with a fork, etc., will create a story and make it more real versus just looking like fake, pretty food. It also adds character and creates a style to the client's photography.

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Is Virtual Art the Future of Creativity?

Is Virtual Art the Future of Creativity?

Have You Experienced Virtual Art?

Every art piece demands a certain level of immersion and engagement from its viewers, but art experienced via VR googles takes things to an entirely different level. Virtual art, VR art or virtual reality art are all terms we use to describe the virtualization of art, made with the technical tools developed in recent decades. The development of computers and other tools such as “visualization casks, stereoscopic spectacles and screens, digital painting and sculpture, generators of three-dimensional sound, position sensors, tactile and power feed-back systems transforms artwork into a virtual universe and allows viewers to get in and edit. This deep level of immersion and personal involvement and the application of specific technical tools are the main characteristics of what we refer to as virtual art.

Unlike many other art forms, virtual art cannot exist without the observer, but at the same time, it erases the difference between the viewer, the creator and the artwork itself. It merges all three in one by letting the viewers control their surrounding with gesture and movement, by giving them different paths of exploring the artwork and by integrating the participants into the piece itself (sometimes through breathing, speech or video clips, other times through virtual representation of the participant aka the avatar).

A Milestone Event

Recently, a blockchain crypto-art rose titled "Forever Rose" has been sold to a collective of investors for cryptocurrencies with a value equivalent to $1,000,000 USD. The collective is composed of 10 investors, each of whom contributed an equal amount toward the digital rose. The artwork is based on Kevin Abosch's photograph of a rose and was created by Abosch and GIFTO, a decentralized universal gifting protocol. Blockchain technology is behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and rights management platforms like KODAKOne. The tech can also be used for art, as demonstrated by Abosch with "Forever Rose." Abosch previously sold an image of a potato titled "Potato #345" in 2016 for more than $1 million.

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Forever Rose is believed to currently be the most valuable virtual artwork in the world. The buyers can choose to hold onto their rose tokens, sell them, or give them away. Abosch and GIFTO will donate the sale proceeds to The CoderDojo Foundation, which provides kids around the world with the opportunity to learn coding skills for free.

What is the Future of Virtual Art?

The future of Virtual Art will in many ways depend on the development of components that will be available to future art-makers. The first wave came instantly and gained immediate attention around the globe. But shortly after, virtual art began to fade a bit, since the possibilities of the latest equipment was quickly exhausted. But technological progress continues, and now you can make paintings, sculptures, even murals by using VR tools but still there’s a long way to go, and developers know it. With its ability to simultaneously occupy all our senses, transcend time and space and present the work from numerous perspectives, virtual art offers something that no other art genre does: the complete and impeccable substitute for reality. 

Let us know your thoughts or your experiences with virtual art… and as always, keep creating!

In 2018, Image Means More Than Ever

In 2018, Image Means More Than Ever

So if you thought one way when you read the title of this post, we’re hear to tell you that it’s truly a “two-fold issue" as far as how our creative team looks at it. As part of a group of creative companies, FIRM NAME and it’s people believe that the “visual image" we capture for you and your company directly impacts how your “brand image” is perceived out there in the world, be it on packaging in a supermarket, on social media, or as part of an editorial spread in a newspaper or magazine.

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Humans are visual creatures hence what others see has an undeniable impact on our success. Images transcend language and words and allow for a greater understanding of whatever is being discussed. Since first impressions are formed within seconds and since most of the information we consume and interpret is visual, quality design can make your site and your brand stick in the viewer’s mind as professional and credible.

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It’s simple: the more professional, compelling and enticing your imagery is, the more business you’ll conduct over time. We’re not just talking about pretty pictures, we’re talking about a way to visualize information in a way that makes sense to your end user. Using high quality imagery of your products and services will help you market to a much larger audience. Imagery opens your content up to a whole new audience by giving visitors the chance to share your imagery with friends and family… and as a bonus: shared images are basically free advertising.

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Using great design and imaginative, high quality imagery is a necessity in today’s visual world. Great creative should convey a message in an easy, simple way, transcend language barriers, provide a good summary of information, support and break down complex concepts, and take a fraction of a second to understand. Yes, that’s a tall order, but it’s one that we fulfill for our clients on a daily basis. 

Our Look At Top Super Bowl Spots

Our Look At Top Super Bowl Spots

For this week’s post, our team thought it would be fun to recap the public AND professional reactions to this year’s crop of Super Bowl commercials. We examined what major publications as well as various social media channels were talking about… both good AND bad.

Humor Trumps Politics

Last year’s Super Bowl featured several ads that were political in nature. This year, companies focused more on humor and nostalgia. Many industry experts saw this as a direct reaction to the fractured climate that exists among Americans as gridlock continues in Washington. 

Some of the most talked-about commercials include:

As the Super Bowl headed into its final quarter, the ads fluctuated between funny and somber. The N.F.L.’s own ad featuring the New York Giants’ Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. re-enacting the climactic dance scene from “Dirty Dancing” was a huge hit, as was Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” spot.

“There’s definitely a humanitarian theme that is running through the spots,” said Margaret Johnson, chief creative officer of the agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which created the Doritos-Mountain Dew ad. “That and humor seem to be the two themes of the night.”
While there were no commercials connected to the #MeToo movement, some still saw progress when it came to the role of gender in Super Bowl ads. “In a culture and a climate where it’s hard to find any kind of positive news out there at the moment, it felt like something we wanted to really lean into and take on a very different message,” said Andrew McKechnie, Verizon’s chief creative officer.

Social media blew up about the Dodge Ram truck commercial, which utilized a voice-over of a speech from Martin Luther King, Jr. And while the reaction to this ad was quite negative and generated much discussion, it appears that social media was in agreement that the “Alexa” and “Dirty Dancing” ads topped this year’s list of “best in show”.

And while “product sales” were still the mainstay throughout the game, more and more we’re seeing extravagant productions for everything from movies and TV network shows, to tourism promotion for Australia.

Watch The Ads Again!

If you’d like to check out any of the commercials again, here’s a link to the world famous USA Today “Ad Meter” that is compiled through a nationwide group of reviews in real time. (Once the new browser window opens, scroll to the bottom of the report to see the reel of all 64 spots).

NOTE: Special thanks to the New York Times, Ad Age and USA TODAY for their links and commentary.

New Tech from CES 2018

New Tech from CES 2018

CES, the world's biggest technology show, recently wrapped up its 2018 edition in Las Vegas. The giant electronics trade show is a yearly showcase of the latest gadgets. It’s also a chance for companies to demonstrate some of their crazier concepts, which may never actually be developed. Below is a brief look at some of the highlights from this year’s show.

Televisions

At CES, the TV reigns supreme. So far, 2018 is proving to be no exception to this unwritten rule. Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic have lugged their premium screens to Vegas and OLED is the flavor of the show – as well as overwhelmingly large screens.

So far, LG has led the way with its prototype of a 65-inch rollable OLED screen. It has also announced its future TVs will incorporate voice assistants and captured early headlines by announcing an 8K TV.

Samsung has debuted what it is calling a modular TV. Called 'The Wall' the 146-inch display is made up of micro LEDs and the firm claims "consumers can customize their television sizes and shapes to suit their needs". Samsung also says in the second half of 2018 it will be releasing an 8K QLED TV that uses artificial intelligence to adjust the screen resolution based on what is being shown.

Elsewhere Sony has launched the Bravia A8F. The TV has a virtually bezel-less screen and comes in 55 and 65-inch versions. When put on sale later this year it will support 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision. Panasonic added two 4K OLEDs, the FZ800 and FZ950, to its lineup.

Laptops & Tablets

Despite their dominance, CES isn't just about TVs. Ahead of the show, Dell announced its new XPS 13 laptop, which comes with three USB ports, one of Intel's latest generation process and the possibility of a 4K screen. Not to be outdone, LG also pre-announced its new line of LG Gram laptops in three different screen sizes.

Meanwhile, Samsung has revamped its Notebook 9 and Notebook 7 Spin. And Acer has also refreshed its Swift 7 laptop, which it claims to be the thinnest in the world, at 8.98mm.

Asus is updating a couple of its laptops, including the ZenBook 13, which is claimed will have a 15-hour battery life. Also being announced is the ASUS X507, a portable gaming laptop with an Intel Core i7 CPU. Outside of the laptop world, Asus also announced the Chromebox 3, a tiny desktop PC that runs Chrome OS.

Dell's latest laptop, the XPS 2-in-1, now comes in a 15-inch size and has a keyboard that utilizes magnets. Using the resistance of the magnets, the firm says it can control the feel of typing. It has also announced a new app that allows notifications from iOS and Android phones to be shown on its laptops.

Google Appears At CES

For the first time, Google has a public presence at CES. It usually sends along an army of staff to explore what's being shown and conduct business meetings behind the scenes but this year it's stepped out of the shadows. In part this is because of its hardware push – launching the Google Home, Pixel 2 and Pixelbook in recent months – but mostly because of its Google Assistant being integrated into other products.

Google continues its push into VR. Partnering with Lenovo and Yi, the companies announced standalone VR headsets. These don't require a mobile phone to run, include head movement tracking and work on Google's Daydream VR platform.

Elsewhere, Android Pay and Google Wallet have been merged into one system, Google Pay, and it has also introduced its Assistant to Android Auto.

The web giant also announced that Google Assistant will work on home assistant devices with screens. This allows a Google-powered Echo Show to be created. But Google hasn't made one of these devices itself (yet), but Lenovo has launched one.

What About Cameras?

Despite the world's media descending on the Las Vegas Convention Center, however, the photographic industry has decided to keep a very low profile this year. The one big announcement has been Panasonic's Lumix GH5S hybrid mirrorless camera, while Nikon paraded an exotic super-telephoto 180-400mm zoom lens that costs about the same as a decent used car.

We perhaps shouldn't overlook the Lenovo Mirage and Yi Technology DayDream VR180 cameras, although while they certainly look fun they don't quite stir the photographer inside us. And that's been about it in terms of new technology.

But it didn't always used to be like this. It was only a few years ago that our inbox would get clogged up with a multitude of CES camera announcements, while those on the ground at the Convention Center would spend our time dashing round trying to make sure we saw everything and everyone they needed to see.

Admittedly, many of these camera announcements were entry-level compacts, but CES has also seen some big camera launches in recent years. Nikon has used the show to announce the likes of the D3300, D5500, D4, D500 and D5, while Canon unveiled the PowerShot G9 X Mark II, Fujifilm the X-Pro1 and X100S and Sony the Alpha A5000.

From a photography perspective though, CES has been on a bit of a slide in recent years. The writing was on the wall when the Photo Marketing Association's (PMA) imaging technology trade show (which was also held in Las Vegas) was incorporated into CES and rebranded as PMA@CES starting 2012.

While the big guns like Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung would show off their latest cameras at their vast stands in the Convention Center, others would opt for small booths and meeting rooms instead, while the PMA itself was tucked away at the nearby Venetian hotel. But 2015 was the last PMA@CES, and now the event has disappeared completely, getting swallowed up by the juggernaut that is CES.

Factor in how the photo market has shifted in recent years, from everyone having a smartphone, a multitude of high-volume, low-cost compacts as well as more premium models with longer life cycles, and it makes sense that there's now a distinct lack of "camera news" at CES.

Trends for 2018 (3rd in a series)

Trends for 2018 (3rd in a series)

The start of a new year is an excellent time to look ahead to major trends affecting your industry and seek out new opportunities to grow your business. As part of our series of trends our teams sees in various aspects of marketing/advertising, here are 5 marketing trends that business leaders should take into consideration as they plan for 2018:

The need for content marketing distribution has never been greater.

As brands and marketers increasingly rely on content marketing as a major part of their marketing strategies and produce more content of their own (as they should), it's becoming harder to cut through the noise and grab your audience's attention before your competitors do.

The solution to that problem isn't to create content at an even faster pace. Instead, you've got to think about how you can distribute your content better than anyone else in your space. This goes beyond social shares, especially as Facebook's organic reach is dropping significantly. Particularly in 2018, it’s going to be crucial to put together a comprehensive content distribution strategy to get your message to the right people when they need it most.

Video content is here to stay.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a hundred times: Video isn’t going anywhere. 55% of people consume video content thoroughly, and by 2020, online videos will account for more than 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic. Bringing video content into your marketing strategy might seem like a big undertaking, but you can (and probably should) start small. It doesn’t have to be the sole focus of your budget or even the biggest portion of it to be valuable.

Public relations and content marketing are aligning.

In the past, PR and content marketing would have been separate departments with separate budgets based on different goals. If you read some of the recent content marketing books, you'll see that brands are starting to realize that they share goals between the two, and they're making PR and marketing alignment a major objective.

Voice search is on the rise.

Hey, Siri: Is it true that typing a search query is becoming a thing of the past? As a matter of fact, more consumers are going off-screen and relying on voice-activated personal assistants to search for information, with some analysts estimating that as much as 50 percent of all searches will be conducted through voice by 2020. Your marketing messages need to be crafted with voice search in mind, which means targeting long-tail keywords and featured snippets.

Chatbots are emerging to help brands in all industries.

The great news about chatbots is they’re not directing users away from the social platforms they’re already on, such as Facebook Messenger. This enables marketers to meet their audience where they are already consuming content. In fact, brands in different spaces, from National Geographic to Whole Foods, are already implementing this. Plus, the barrier to entry here is low, so consider testing a chatbot with your own team. There are some free tools out there to help you get started, and you can obviously put some budget dollars behind other tools for different experiences. This simple investment can help you quickly engage your audience and nurture a more personalized relationship that keeps them coming back.

In Summary:

As the menu of marketing tactics becomes longer and more diverse, marketers are challenged to consider their budget and strategy from every angle. With these trends in mind, there’s no doubt 2018 will be one of the most interesting years for marketing yet. What new developments have affected your budget for 2018? Let me know your thoughts on the trends that are on your radar.

TRENDS FOR 2018 (2ND IN A SERIES)

TRENDS FOR 2018 (2ND IN A SERIES)

In the 2nd post of our series on trends that will influence and impact the creative, advertising and marketing space in 2018, we're looking at trends in "photography".

As with most things “marketing”, the category of “photography” sees change each year… in both technology & equipment as well as how creative pros execute their ideas. Below are some of the trends our research shows will be dominant in the field of photography in 2018.

Real Images (i.e. “unfiltered")

Again, in a world where you can easily fix flaws using filters, people have wanted to trigger their capabilities by doing clean photos that are not filtered, and this is a trend that will show up in 2018 as more photographers look for ways to produce real images that are not passed through editing apps to make adjustments. Doing photos inspired by filters makes many feel as if their capabilities are below par or not within the required standards to guarantee the production of high quality photos, and that’s why photographers are shifting to investing in quality equipment that will help them come up with good raw photos so they will not need to pass them through apps to add filters.

Natural Design

The contrast between digital and real has continued to pick pace, and natural looks are offsetting tech-inspired styles. Many are clamoring for authentic natural design, which comes raw and made with no sharp tech-driven edges. Expect to see more rich patterns that are timeless, including things like tree rings and marble swirls. There is a lot of focus on nature and expressing it as it is through photography.

White Texture

The clamor for this kind of photography has seen an increase of searches by 482 percent since early last year. When a 3D-effect is added to the trend, it can be sharp and intricate, reflecting the patterns seen most in nature. It comes as the embodiment of minimalism and offers us a bold backdrop to other designs. It comes as a useful way to add calm backgrounds while creating interfaces that require less noise both in the background and on other task areas.

Vivid Color

Vivid color is as well expected to make a significant comeback. Early signs have shown a shift in photography to focus on smartphone photography that comes with photo editing software. It is now easier to use different filters while personalizing snapshots. Expect bold and colorful tones laced with high contrast in 2018.

Global View

With the world getting more connected, it has become smaller and now people can share and borrow ideas from each other regardless of where they are situated across the world. Content creators can now capture scenes and share with a wider audience, and this has seen the networking among photographers across the world broaden. It is expected this trend will proceed to offer a wider allowance for up-and-coming photographers to have expert mentoring more than ever before, which could lead to a huge improvement in quality as more people will readily access the support they need to polish their skills at the art of photography.

Trends for 2018 (1st in a series)

Trends for 2018 (1st in a series)

As we start a new year, our team has been researching trends that will influence and impact the creative, advertising and marketing space in 2018. In the coming weeks, we'll introduce these trends in a series of blog posts.

In the first post of this series, we're looking at trends in "design and graphics".

Trends in Design & Graphics

In the era of digital art, graphic design trends can evaporate as quickly as they emerged. What has been modern for the past few years may look entirely outdated in 2018. While some trends have stood the test of time, others have vanished in the blink of an eye only to make room for new, more modern looks. So let’s take a look at what some are saying will be the hottest graphic design trends in 2018.

The “Glitch” Effect

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The corrupted image, i.e. the glitch effect, has been one of the most popular trends in the digital world lately. Apparently, what was once annoying for the viewer has now been turned into a truly wanted effect. Obviously, horror movie fans have been familiar with this one for ages.

The “Ruined” Effect

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As far as we can tell, contemporary graphic designers have been obsessed with the “art of destroying”. Everything that includes splashing, scratching, ripping off, breaking or any other form of ruining the aesthetics of a composition is considered modern for 2018.

“Color Channels” Effects

Playing with color channels has been widely popular among designers. The technique allows designers to create great illusional effects. A holograph, a hallucination, a distorted reality... all of these are highly influential on the viewer which makes “color channels” one of the top graphic design trends in 2018. The holographic design trend, which has been a huge hit for several years, is now falling behind in comparison with the other futuristic trends. While it’s still glamorous and mesmerizing, we’ll see less of holographic designs in 2018.

Double Exposure

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Double exposure has been a thing for several years now. Despite the fact that some designers have put this technique aside for a while, we definitely see a rise of double exposure designs which amaze the viewer. Variations include "Double Exposure Duotone” and "Double Light”.

Cropped Typography

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Cropped typography was a hot trend for 2017 and is still hot for 2018. The art of erasing parts of the letters while still keeping their readability requires a lot of creativity and professionalism. The effect is 100% worth the effort.

Negative Space Designs

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We named negative space a positive trend not because negative and positive attract each other in physics, but because in graphic aesthetics negative space techniques evoke quite positive emotions. In its nature negative space is an “empty” space in the design which forms a certain distinctive shape. The technique is one of the most popular ones lately and it still holds the leading positions.

Colorful 3D Substance

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Bright colors plus a 3D composition is an absolute winning combo for 2018. With so many graphic design trends fighting for the leading positions in 2018, bright colors are certainly on the top of the charts. And how can they not be when all clients say is “Make it pop!” And yes, bright colors can certainly make a design pop. In our opinion this will be one of the strongest graphic design trends for 2018. 

Metallic Elements

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As an addition to bright colors, metallic elements enter the world of graphic design to create the “Wow” effect. Often combined with other hot trends such as 3D compositions and creative typography, this trend brings the effect of a real-life composition.

Color Transitions & Gradients

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When Instagram changed its logo back in 2016 into a colorful gradient, nobody thought this trend was going to become so huge. It was just the beginning of its rise. Despite the fact that many weren’t sure about this design technique, we are seeing more and more of these colorful gradients.

 

Stay tuned for the next in this series, appearing on our blog soon!

KICK OFF THE NEW YEAR THE RIGHT WAY!

KICK OFF THE NEW YEAR THE RIGHT WAY!

As corny as this may sound, a new year can really be the start of a brand new you (or a fresh, new look for your brand!). Nothing feels as fresh as starting the new year with a new attitude. That being said, as we embark headlong into 2018, we wanted to take the time to encourage our clients and associates to enter the new year with an open mind when it comes to their visual content creation.

The new year is not only a time for personal resolutions, but also for professional ones. One of the most important aspects to focus on is how you can attract new customers and keep your existing ones loyal to your brand. This is best achieved by a solid visual content strategy, which means that NOW is the perfect time to consider ways to improve those efforts.

What's Important to You & Your Business in 2018?

It’s always a great exercise at the start of a new year to give thoughtful examination to the business year that just finished, and to assess how to improve and what directional changes (if any) to make. Here are some questions to ask yourself about the year we just ended:

  • Which social media platforms and/or websites brought the most visitors to your site?
  • Did we make sure that our website is optimized for mobile so as to not lose rankings in Google?
  • What content received the most consumer interactions? Was it text, image or video?
  • Do you have a plan to deliver visual content to your audience on a regular basis?

Finding out answers to these questions will allow you to decide on a course of action for 2018 so you can maximize efforts to work on the visual content strategies that will be the most fruitful. At FoodPhotoStudio.com, we have helped clients solve challenges ranging from branding and packaging to visual content marketing.

Work On Your Brand

We are bombarded by content from so many different online and offline platforms these days, that customers have a hard time recalling the individual messages that they see from various companies. The brands that have been able to cut through the clutter are the ones that are able to regularly tell a single story, thereby creating a consistent brand image.

This is not a simple effort to undertake, and it requires reviewing your website content, social media posts, advertising, press releases, packaging and other visual content to make sure there is a consistent “image” being portrayed, and that all are relaying the same message.

In Closing

An effort like reworking your visual content strategy is never a simple undertaking. But with some planning, collaboration among your team, and a truly honest assessment of past successes and failures, you can elevate your brand even higher and develop paths to increased sales and revenue. We’re always excited to discuss visual content strategies with our clients and associates alike, so don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a chat!

Fun Christmas Tree Facts

Fun Christmas Tree Facts

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Great Moments in Christmas Tree History

  • The first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.
  • The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
  • Using small candles to light a Christmas tree dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
  • Thomas Edison's assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882. Christmas tree lights were first mass-produced in 1890.
  • In 1900, large stores started to erect big illuminated Christmas trees.
  • The tradition of an official Chicago Christmas tree was initiated in 1913 when one was first lit by Mayor Carter H. Harrison in Grant Park.
  • The official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933. Since 2004 the tree has been topped with a 550-pound Swarovski Crystal star. And since 2007, the tree has been lit with 30,000 energy-efficient LED's which are powered by solar panels.
  • Every year since 1947, the people of Oslo, Norway have given a Christmas tree to the city of Westminster, England. The gift is an expression of good will and gratitude for Britain's help to Norway during World War II.
  • Since 1971, the Province of Nova Scotia has presented the Boston Christmas tree to the people of Boston, in gratitude for the relief supplies received from the citizens of Boston after a ship exploded in 1917 following a collision in the Halifax, Nova Scotia Harbor. Part of the city was leveled, killing and injuring thousands.
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Presidential Christmas Trees

  • In 1856 Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was the first President to place a Christmas tree in the White House.
  • President Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923.
  • Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons.
  • From 1948 to 1951, President Truman spent Christmas at his home in Independence, Missouri, and lit the National Community Christmas Tree by remote control. Truman agreed to stay at the White House for Christmas 1952, and personally lit the tree.
  • In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd, because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy.
  • Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and first family for display in the Blue Room.
  • In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lit except for the top ornament. This was done to honor the American hostages in Iran.
  • In 1984, the National Christmas tree was lit on December 13th with temperatures in the 70's, making it one of the warmest tree lightings in history.
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Christmas Tree Growth

  • 98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms, while only 2% are cut from the wild.
  • To ensure enough trees for harvest, growers plant one to three seedlings for every tree harvested.
  • In 2015, 46 million Christmas tree seedlings were planted by U.S. growers.
  • More than 2,000 trees are usually planted per acre. On average 1,000-1,500 of these trees will survive. In the northern part of the country, perhaps 750 trees will remain.
  • Almost all trees require shearing to attain the Christmas tree shape. At six to seven feet, trees are ready for harvest.
  • It takes six to ten years of fighting heavy rain, wind, hail and drought to get a mature tree.
  • Most Christmas trees are cut weeks before they get to a retail outlet. It is important to keep them watered thoroughly when they reach your home. In the first week, a Christmas tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day.
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Real or Artificial?

  • Artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century and later became popular in the United States. These "trees" were made using goose feathers that were dyed green and attached to wire branches. The wire branches were then wrapped around a central dowel rod that acted as the trunk.
  • In 1930 the U.S.-based Addis Brush Company created the first artificial Christmas tree made from brush bristles. The company used the same machinery that it used to manufacture toilet brushes, but they were dyed green.
  • Artificial Christmas trees made largely from aluminum were manufactured in the United States, first in Chicago in 1958.
  • Today, most artificial Christmas trees are made from PVC plastic. PVC trees are fire-retardant but not fire-resistant. Eighty percent of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China.
  • 10.9 million artificial trees were purchased in the United States in 2015.
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Getting Trees To Market

  • Live Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850.
  • The first Christmas tree retail lot in the United States was started by Mark Carr in New York, in 1851.
  • From 1887-1933 a fishing schooner called the "Christmas Ship" would tie up at the Clark Street Bridge in Chicago and sell spruce trees from Michigan to Chicagoans.
  • In 2015, 35% of real Christmas trees sold were from chain stores or garden centers/nursery, 24% from cut and harvest farms, 15% from retail tree lots, and 15% from non-profit groups.
  • In 2015, 85% of the Christmas trees purchased were pre-cut, and 14% were cut-your-own.
  • An estimated 175,000 real Christmas trees are sold via e-commerce or catalogue and shipped mail order.
  • The most popular Christmas trees are: Scotch pine, Douglas fir, noble fir, Fraser fir, balsam fir, Virginia pine and white pine.

We hope that you've enjoyed these fun facts about a staple of American (and international) holiday celebrations... all the best to you for a wonderful 2018!

Sources: National Christmas Tree Association, USDA Census of Agriculture, PolitiFact.com, Christmas Tree Farm Network, Christmas Trees Magazine, Forestry.about.com, Facts about Treecycling, U.S. Commerce Dept., NFPA Fire Analysis and Research.

Putting Marketing in Motion!

Putting Marketing in Motion!

Video is no longer optional for savvy digital marketers. B2B and B2C audiences are begging for more video. This trend toward video has been happening for a while now, but it has only recently reached the point where if you are not including video in your digital marketing strategy you could be derailing your efforts while at the same time leaving your audience uninspired.

I have been delivering “marketing in motion" to my clients for years. You name it, I’ve shot it at some point! What's different about our new focus on “motion” and the process to properly execute these projects is that it’s less focused on supplementing your content marketing strategy with an occasional video, but rather using video to drive results across all channels making high quality video a key component of social, web, email and nurturing campaigns.

Examples of how we’re putting it all in motion include:

Let’s examine some key data points:

  • Social media buttons on mobile video ads increase engagement 36%
  • Over half of consumers are more confident in an online purchase when there is a product video
  • Video in email can boost open rates by 20% and increase click-through rates 2X
  • Email subject lines that have the word “Video” in them have 19% more opens and 65% more click-throughs
  • 75% of consumers (and 65% of executives!) visit a website after watching a video
  • An increase of 20% in conversion rates on home pages that feature a video

Finally, 70% of marketers say video converts better than any other content they use. That last point is key into why we are providing greater emphasis on putting “marketing in motion” and executing these projects to be better, faster, bolder, more fun and more creative – it’s what will make our clients more successful and profitable.

We’d love to hear from you! How are you putting your marketing “in motion"? What challenges are you facing? What successes have you had? Let’s get together and figure out how to make your video content marketing tactics amazing. Contact us today!

Little Known Facts About Thanksgiving!

Little Known Facts About Thanksgiving!

As friends and family will gather this week to give thanks and relax, we take a moment to share 5 facts that you can talk about around the dinner table on Thanksgiving!

Pigskin tradition

The tradition of football games on Thanksgiving dates back to 1934, when the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears in the first NFL game broadcast nationally. George A. Richards, a radio executive and owner of the Detroit Lions team, wanted to gain the attention of fans with a Thanksgiving Day game. His idea worked, and all 26,000 tickets sold out two weeks before kickoff. The Lions have hosted a Thanksgiving game each year since. The Dallas Cowboys also began hosting on Thanksgiving in 1966, and a third game was added with rotating matchups in 2006.

Americans really, really like turkey

The National Turkey Foundation (NTF) estimates that around 88 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and about 46 million turkeys were consumed on the holiday in 2015. Turkey has become a bigger part of the American diet recently, with consumption nearly doubling over the past 25 years, according to the NTF.

Busy day for plumbers

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day for plumbers, according to Roto-Rooter. Meal prep and cleanup can clog drains and garbage disposals, and guests requiring “additional clothes washing, showers, and toilet flushes put a strain on household plumbing,” the company says. It experiences a 21 percent increase in calls over the four-day weekend than any other Thursday to Sunday period in the year.

This state is all about turkey

Minnesota produces more turkeys than any other state in the U.S., raising close to 46 million last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Presidential pardon

The first official presidential pardon of a turkey occurred much more recently than most might think: President George H.W. Bush did it in 1989, and it’s since become an annual tradition. Stories of unofficial pardons, however, go further back - perhaps even to President Lincoln’s days, when he supposedly pardoned a turkey after an impassioned plea from his son Tad for the bird’s right to live.

Why Great Photography is Important for Your Online Business

Why Great Photography is Important for Your Online Business

I was reading an interesting article the other day, exploring how you get improved sales from your website. Not surprisingly, the key takeaway was the importance of high quality photos and videos contributing to the success of your online venture.

Humans are visual creatures hence what others see has an undeniable impact on our success. Images transcend language and words and allow for a greater understanding of whatever is being discussed. Since first impressions are formed within seconds and since most of the information we consume and interpret is visual, quality design can make your site and your brand stick in the viewer’s mind as professional and credible.

A professional, modern looking website can immediately build trust and guide visitors to take action. When it comes to web copy, people rarely read a piece of content word for word. On the other hand, images stick with readers longer and are more likely to give you a greater return on your content investment. The design of a website is significant because it affects how quickly visitors can find what they are looking for. If navigating the website is difficult or frustrating, the visitor will leave and try on another site, resulting in a lost opportunity.  A good design will be easy to understand and navigate, helping potential customers find what they need and taking you one step closer to making a sale or getting in touch.

Professional images capture authenticity. Photographs not only show the visitor what you offer, but can also make them want to act. People no longer just want to browse a website, they want to experience it. The restaurant website www.portillos.com is full of quality, tasty images of their varied product selection. The tantalizing photos make one want to rush over and eat… a lot! The simplicity and consistency of the images speaks to the quality of the product.

It’s simple: the more professional, compelling and enticing your site’s photography is, the more business you’ll conduct over time. We’re not just talking about pretty pictures, we’re talking about a way to visualize information in a simple way that makes sense to the client. Using good photography of your products and services will help you market to a much larger audience. Photos open your content up to a whole new audience through giving visitors the chance to share your imagery with friends and family. Bonus: shared images are basically free advertising. Professional photos can make your visitor understand your product or service more.

Most clothing websites already offer images of outfits that you can rotate and zoom in and pan across the product. The 360 degree rotation style seems very popular with shoes and handbag retailers.

Rikki Hunt, director of Nine Fashion, was quoted as saying “It's worth investing in quality photography. We employ local models and a professional photographer for EVERY new product range.”

The addition of video has created some interesting changes, not simply boosting sales, but reducing returns – the curse of any online retailer. In the article, Mark Newton-Jones, CEO of Littlewoods says “We've seen benefits in terms of customer engagement, improved conversion rates and higher sales.”

If you are striving to be professional and knowledgeable in the workplace, then your website needs to reflect that. Using great design and quality photography is a necessity in this visual world. Great design should convey a message in an easy, simple way, transcend language barriers, provide a good summary of information, support and break down complex concepts, and take a fraction of a second to understand.
 

Halloween Fun Facts!

Halloween Fun Facts!

With yet another holiday upon us, we take time this weekend to celebrate some of the spooky, kooky facts around the upcoming Halloween celebration.

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Historical Facts About Halloween

Trick-or-treating harks back to the Middle Ages and All Souls’ Day, when poor people in Britain would beg for soul cakes, a sweet-bread treat, and pray for dead relatives in return.

When trick-or-treating first became popular in the United States in the 1800s, more children played mischievous pranks than asked for candy. By the 1950s, though, the focus had switched to good old family fun, with sugar-hyped children dressed in costumes.

The candy-collecting tradition has spread from the United States to Canada, Australia, and Western Europe, where more and more little goblins now trick-or-treat. In parts of England, children carry lanterns called punkies (which look like jack-o’-lanterns) and parade through their towns on the last Thursday of October. In Ireland, rural neighborhoods light bonfires, and children play snap apple, in which they try to take a bite from apples that are hung by strings from a tree or a door frame.

Chocolate makes up about three-quarters of a trick-or-treater’s loot, according to the National Confectioners Association.

Tips For Saving Candy

In the event that the candy isn't scarfed down that first night, separate chocolate out and keep it in a cool, dark, dry place. Milk chocolate is good for no more than 8 to 10 months, while dark chocolate lasts up to two years. Hard candy will also stay fresh in a cool, dry place for about a year. Make sure to store any soft candies in a covered dish away from direct heat and light. Enjoy them within six months.

If you find yourself with more candy than you know what you do with, put your leftover sweets to good use by sharing them with neighbors or coworkers.

Fun Facts About Candy Corn

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  • Candy corn has been made with the same recipe by the Jelly Belly Candy Company since around 1900.
  • What's in that recipe, exactly? Sugar, corn syrup, and marshmallow.
  • One serving (about 30 pieces) has 140 calories, the equivalent of three miniature Hershey bars.
  • The National Confectioners Association reports that more than 35 million pounds were manufactured in 2015, amounting to almost 9 billion kernels.
     

Why Food Photo Studio? Let's Take a Look!

Why Food Photo Studio? Let's Take a Look!

At Food Photo Studio, we pride ourselves on operating a diverse business model that allows for us to be nimble, cost effective and extremely efficient for our clients. But since we’re often asked “why Food Photo Studio?” when talking to prospective clients, we decided to put together a series of blog posts in recent months that talk about some of the key attributes that make our studio stand out… you can read these posts through the links below:

WE’RE NOT JUST PHOTOGRAPHERS:

ARTICLE LINK: http://bit.ly/2vik4oY

OUR SUBURBAN LOCATION:

ARTICLE LINK: http://bit.ly/2vtGT5x

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPPING:

ARTICLE LINK: http://bit.ly/2sULKhS

PUTTING FOOD IN MOTION:

ARTICLE LINK: http://bit.ly/2vJCRHx

USING TECHNOLOGY:

ARTICLE LINK: http://bit.ly/2xvDkNm

WORKING WITH AGENCIES:

ARTICLE LINK: http://bit.ly/2yEyWzw

We know that choosing the right studio and a visual content creation team is critical to the success of your business, and we hope these articles help outline for you “why” we feel we’d be a great fit to help your future success… let’s talk and discuss your challenges and the ways that we could help!

"Agencies Love Us" (6th in a series of "why")

"Agencies Love Us" (6th in a series of "why")

Key highlights:

How agencies use us:

Agencies think of us as true partners… an extension of their firm! We help them grow their business through introductions to companies that we know, while also helping them build their clients’ businesses through the development of outstanding visual content.

Why we enjoy working with agencies:

We are flexible, we know we can’t do ALL the work, and that’s okay… we think of the long view of the relationship in terms of helping our agencies succeed and build lasting client relationships that in turn drives repeat work to our studio.

Things to think about when looking for a visual content creation provider:

Find a studio that’s flexible, can accommodate multiple client shoots at once, and that can potentially deliver to you introductions to build new client relationships!

 Our full service kitchen...

Our full service kitchen...

Several of our clients are Creative Agencies and Marketing Agencies who don’t specialize in visual content creation, but who do want to provide this for their clients when it is appropriate.  We basically become their own personal Visual Content Department!

Working with an agency is great fun, we get to know the team and they get to know and trust us.  But what are the top reasons agencies keep coming back to us?

Profit Margin

Everyone is in business to make a living of some sort, and we understand that your profit margin is one of the key needs of every agency who decides to outsource part of their business.  Because of the repeat business we develop with agencies we are able to reduce our own rates, and make further savings by overlapping production resources.

Complete Discretion

Being discreet is essential.  When we start to work with an agency we become part of your team, and we go to lengths to ensure that your client believes nothing else.  We often meet with an agency’s clients, and always refer to ourselves as part of your team. 

Your Own Portfolio

Sometimes when you are pushing for new business it helps to show the client other similar work you have successfully completed.  This is often the case when the agencies we work with are suggesting different types of visual content.  To help with this we can create a “portfolio” specifically designed for the pitch or industry.

Creative Collaboration and Flexibility

We frequently brain storm creative ideas and execution.  With our complete knowledge of visual content creation and production we can make suggestions and give fast estimates on queries.  We also support new ideas and ‘out of the box’ thinking – from cutting edge techniques to basic services. On the other hand, we love agencies with their own clear creative ideas, which are often incredibly refreshing and unique.  Some agencies will have members of their staff who will art direct the shoot and all we are needed for is to provide the smooth running production operations.

Full Service in All Areas

One of our greatest assets is that we are experienced in all aspects of visual content.  So you can confidently say ‘yes’ to any visual ideas that your client may come up with, or that may be raised in your meetings.

Total Trust

One of the reasons we form long lasting relationships with our agencies is that we are completely trustworthy.  Even when your client may have needs outside of the marketing arena we still refer any queries to you.

Our studio and corporate office are located in Schaumburg in the Remington Tech Center. This provides an optimal spot for our group of companies, as we have FoodPhotoStudio.com, CurtisNewbornPhotographic.com, and ObscuraCompanies.com, all located under one roof. Our brands in total provide a complete, turnkey solution for visual imagery and marketing execution, and the services that we provide go well beyond photography.

Would you like to learn even more about the advantages of working with us? Click on each title below to check out these recent posts:

So as I close this post, all I can say is that if you’re thinking about food photography, give us a look… and check our blog each month for more about “why” FoodPhotoStudio.com is THE place in Chicagoland for highly creative, cost effective imagery!