Chicago-based food photographer Jason Little had the opportunity to be a kid again while teaming up with brand-new macaroni and cheese brand GOODLES to create imagery for the launch of their product. Jason’s playful and hammy nature was just the right fit for GOODLES, whose bold website has little surprises such as a convertible with flames on the side driving across the bottom of the screen.
The shoot was a blast and the client and myself bonded over our love for cult 80’s movies like Big Trouble in Little China.
This was Jason’s second time working with GOODLES, having shot their on-pack images two months prior. This time, executive creative director Dan Chodrow wanted both hero images and secondary shots in which the product would be placed in several whimsical, nostalgic miniature scenes.
There was a lot of talk about narrative point of view and we generally agreed that the lines should be blurred between a kid imagining a grown up world and an adult remembering the magic of being a kid.
GOODLES, a healthier but no-less-fun alternative to the classic boxed macaroni and cheese brands, only became available a month ago. Selecting a photographer for this project therefore held extra weight because these images were an essential part of their brand launch, defining who they are as a company. GOODLES had to find someone who didn’t just understand their style, but shared in it.
Visiting Jason’s website leaves you with a feeling of energy, enthusiasm, and fun. There is a bold and surrealist charisma that comes through the screen, and the client trusted his style to harness a similar feeling for their own digital platform.
My take on the creative brief was that the images should be one part fantastic, two parts yummy and all parts fun. It was probably the closest a paid gig has ever felt like personal work.
The shoot took place over two days at recently-opened Parchment Studio in Chicago, ideal because its large size allowed Jason to photograph one set while simultaneously another was being assembled.
The hero shots had been planned out beforehand based on sketches from Zero Agency, but the secondary shots allowed Jason and the team to be creative with the props provided by set designer Mellissa Anne Elias.
Mellissa killed it! I was floored by the custom strongman game and Italian restaurant booth that she manufactured from scratch!
Post-production ended up being straightforward even though Jason and the team initially thought it could have been more labor-intensive. Thanks to their ingenuity in the studio they relied less on editing elements into the shots, and instead focused on balancing the bright colors palettes.
There were several items that we thought may be easier to achieve in post, such as the water effects or flying seagulls, however practical effects prevailed!
Often, food brands that boast healthier, plant-based ingredients use earth tones and simplicity in their imagery to convey that their product is natural and organic. Instead, GOODLES utilized Jason’s glossy, hyper-saturated aesthetic to catch one’s attention. Since their macaroni is packed with protein, fiber, and micro-nutrients, the fun atmosphere Jason created stands out by comparison ⸺ GOODLES has both style and substance.
The transportive, dreamlike images that Jason helped create make it difficult not to go out of one’s way to buy GOODLES’s macaroni, even though it’s still so new that it won’t hit shelves till early 2022. Right now, the only way to purchase GOODLES is through their website, making Jason’s work all the more important for their debut.
I hope most of my career can be this fun while working with a team that I appreciate as much as this one!
Executive Creative Director: Dan Chodrow
Marketing Director: Heather Wood
Producer: Rachel Waters
Agency Creative Director: Marina Kozak
Food Stylist: Maria Del Mar Cuadra
Food Assistant: Jason Wheeler
Set Designer: Mellissa Anne Elias
Digital Tech: Brian Pietrini
Assistants: Brian Powers, Dave Creighton
3D Printed Items: Jerry O’Leary