Great Images Sell Great Food & Drink


Alistair Grant of Bokeh Photographic explains why networking works for him and how sponsoring an event has helped his business develop.

Readers of the Grub Club Blog may be aware that I’m a photographer. Moreover, I’m photographer that specialises in food & drink. Great images sell great food & drink. What could be simpler than that? 

Well for starters (no pun intended) food photography has a reputation for being tricky. Take a look around. Unfortunately there are plenty of images that make really good food look really bad. Incredibly, not all bad shots are by amateur snappers. Food & drink photography is also incredibly nuanced; for example, there is an inherent fascination with doctoring food such as using motor oil to make food glisten. In truth, nobody seems terribly keen on this but producers worry that their products won’t look good without it. I don’t resort to such tricks as I believe it’s important to respect the care put into producing great food and so I only shoot fully edible, fresh produce. However, explaining this and reassuring clients that I still get good results takes time.

This is where traditional networking events fall short for me. It’s impossible to explain any detail in a one minute elevator pitch. In addition, isn’t the most important part of networking understanding exactly what other people need so that you can offer the best solutions? Pitching in turn around a table isn’t terribly conducive to this.

Thankfully, Grub Club Cambridge provides an alternative. As well as being a foodie appreciative of local produce, Grub Club Cambridge offers a great environment for me to find out people’s photographic requirements so that I can offer solutions. Often, whilst chatting over drinks, it’s a case of helping potential clients think step-by-step through what photography they require. Constructing a photography brief can be difficult, especially if you have not done it before, but it is the single most important thing in guaranteeing great images. The informality of Grub Club Cambridge helps kick-start this process.

Even so, sometimes an extra boost is useful. The benefits of 1:1 and small group networking are clear but an obvious downside is that you can’t reach out to everyone in the room (believe me – I have tried!). Therefore when the opportunity to be the first sponsor of a Grub Club Cambridge event came up it was a no brainer. Sponsorship provided the opportunity to give a short presentation to all those attending The Larder at Burwash Manor on the 22nd September as well as exhibiting food & drink photographic prints. In addition to marking British Food Fortnight the event also was the first birthday of Grub Club Cambridge. I am grateful for the positive feedback on the evening and subsequently. For those who missed the event here’s a recap of the main points:

  • Ensure you use a photographer with relevant experience of shooting food & drink; this includes yourself if you are thinking about taking your own shots!
  • Advance planning is essential; don’t ever be tempted to skip writing a detailed photography brief.
  • A great image incorporates subtle behavioural cues to purchase products in addition to making great food & drink look as appetising as it tastes.
  • Even great images need to be regularly changed to ensure consumers continue to purchase food & drink products.
  • How do you know if a photographer is any good? A good food & drink photographer will help you out with all of the above and a lot more. 

After reading this you may be thinking about your own business sponsoring a Grub Club Cambridge event. You probably attend Grub Club Cambridge because it is a great way to do business with likeminded individuals in the food & drink sector. Sponsorship has further increased my Grub Club Cambridge related business. It has also produced another positive impact: the opportunity to explain in detail what I do to the Grub Club Cambridge group has meant that clients are now better prepared to write, with input as required from me, a photography brief. The bottom line is that this helps produce great images and – back to where we started – great images sell great food & drink.

Alistair Grant

You can find Alistair on Twitter @bokehphotograph